Google is reportedly working on adding variable refresh rate (VRR) to Chrome OS, its Chrome-based operating system for laptops and tablets. The feature is presently under developer testing, and presently requires it to be manually enabled by developers in the Chrome OS 101 Dev channel. Once enabled, the feature would allow the displays of devices running on Chrome OS to match the frames per second (FPS) rates of apps running on the operating system.
Refresh rates refer to the number of times a display reloads when rendering what’s on the screen. In simple terms, a higher refresh rate typically leads to content being loaded in smoother motion on the device, producing lesser stutters and screen tear. Typically, screens on any laptop or tablet have a specific refresh rate, and developers work to match the FPS rates of apps running on a particular operating system to such specifications.
With VRR, apps offer better synchronisation with the hardware-specified FPS rates of a device. In recent times, smartphones have made higher refresh rates mainstream on consumer and enterprise devices alike. Higher up the price chain, device makers have adopted VRR to adapt the FPS rates of apps depending on optimum performance, as a result of which modern apps can automatically adapt refresh rates based on what’s being displayed on screen.
Adding native support for VRR on Chrome OS would therefore mean smoother app performance on the operating system. This, in turn, would increase the scope of applications running on Chrome OS both in the enterprise and consumer segments. In enterprise Chrome OS devices, apps with native VRR support could mean more precise visuals, while in the consumer segment, reports have already spoken about upcoming Chrome OS gaming laptops.
For context, frame rates are of tantamount importance in gaming – where the smoothness of visuals can be of major significance to in-game reaction times.
VRR can be of importance in Chrome OS tablets as well. The software experience for Chrome OS tablets remain only functional at best, and adding native VRR support for Chrome OS tablet-mode apps can improve the usage experience significantly.