I recently stumbled upon a new extension for Chrome OS that does something extremely simple, yet totally awesome. Panel View for Google Play Music actually does just what the name implies: it opens up Google Play Music in a panel, instead of a separate tab or window. So yes, it’s just a shortcut – but it is also much more than that.
While I’ve always been a huge fan of Google Play Music since it was first released, and I’m an even bigger fan of Google’s All Access music subscription service, I haven’t ignored its little annoyances here and there. On Chrome OS, one of the biggest annoyances is the fact that there is no packaged app. I don’t like keeping a dedicated tab open all the time. I tried setting the app shortcut to open in a new window, but that caused my other windows to minimize, which I also didn’t like. Panel View for Google Play Music fixes all these problems.
Additionally, I like the fact that on Chrome OS, it opens as a panel, rather than a window or tab. If you’re not familiar with the difference, it acts just like Google Hangouts does – it opens a separate window on the lower, right hand corner of your screen, and it doesn’t cause your main window to minimize. The result is that, just like Google Hangouts, I can use Google Play Music without navigating away from my current tab. When I minimize it, the icon remains easily accessible next to the clock at the bottom of the screen. The experience is smoother and more cohesive this way – I can’t really describe what a difference this makes, but it really does.
Finally, because Google Play Music opens in a smaller panel, instead of a full window, the actual navigation is closer to the Android app, with a similar expanding navigation drawer on the left. It feels nice to have a similar experience on both mobile and the desktop.
Please note: if you are running the stable or beta channel of Chrome OS, you have to enable a specific flag in order to get this extension to function properly. Navigate to chrome://flags, find Enable panels, make sure it’s enabled, and restart your Chromebook. If you don’t do this, the extension will open Google Play Music in a new tab instead, which completely misses the point here!
Download: Chrome Web Store