Chromium code points to Project Athena, a new interface with improved touch functionality

by: Andrew GrushJune 13, 2014

LG ChromeBase Chrome OS CES 2014 AA-3

It seems that the Greek gods are awfully busy as of late. First, we heard about Project Hera earlier this year, which was rumored to bridge search, Chrome and Android in a few different ways. Now it seems that Chrome OS also has some Greek gods stirring potential changes into the mix. According to a report from GigaOM, there are dozens of code references in the Chromium issue tracker that point to something called Project Athena.

Piecing these various references together, it seems that the project is a next-gen evolution (and/or full replacement) of Chrome OS’ Ash window manager. At least one Chromium entry also points to something called Ares, which will reportedly “be the home/launcher screen in Athena as well as the launcher for Ash.”

While it’s hard to say for sure how Athena will change things for Chrome OS, many of the code references and entries point to improved touch integration. This includes the addition of touch-friendly gestures such as dragging up from the bottom edge for an overview mode and activating a split-screen mode when dragging right from the left edge.

Project Athena looks to be a next-gen evolution of Chrome OS' existing Ash window manager

We know what you’re thinking, improved touchscreen integration could mean that Google finally has plans from Chrome-powered tablets and possible smartphones. That’s certainly a possibility, though it’s just as likely that Google is merely trying to improve the touchscreen laptop experience on its Chromebooks while retaining its Ash window managers for devices without touch support.

Project Athena is also likely about more than just improved touchscreen integration, and considering Hera’s rumored functions, it’s not unreasonable to think that Athena could help bridge the gap between search, Android and Chrome in a similar manner. Of course, that’s really just speculation on our part.

The big takeaway here is that Google has plans to switch things up for Chrome OS, and these plans seem to be centered around a more touch-optimized future. What do you think, like the idea of touchscreen laptops and possibly even ChromeTabs?

  • Corbin Crutch


  • MasterMuffin

    Chrometab could be nice, but I don’t see anyone buying them

    • Corbin Crutch

      Tis true. I hope that Google can find a good way to improve them. I like em, but I am rarely near internet – that and I don’t want to buy a plan for it. I know there’re ways around it – but long story short, they need to find ways to incentize the idea of porting offline apps to chromium.

      • MasterMuffin

        But they don’t want you to be offline :/

        • Corbin Crutch

          I know that they don’t want you to be, but:
          A) The end user doesn’t want to have to deal with phone companies for ANOTHER bill that’s going to be over charged and a steamy pile of Phone Operating BS
          B) It can still be very online-centric, just with the ability to use certain apps offline [which needs to grow. Like games that can only do so much offline, ect]
          C) If for whatever reason online is not an option, your chromebook/tab suddenly becomes nearly useless.
          I know what they are shooting for but it has a while to go. I feel that the main focus for the online is so that everything can stay synced and in the cloud, which it can still be – just when the end user decides it to be.

    • Unless you could install android apps, or windows apps. in Greek mythology, athena is the God of War, maybe this is Google really joining the desktop wars in a powerful way?

  • cabbieBot

    Has anyone seen any reason to indicate that Google’s end-game with ChromeOS is a different consumer electronic device (like a tablet, a plateauing $ segment already) instead of what is hitting everyone in the face: unifying search and services across all platforms? A ChromeOS tablet is a dead-end for speculation, IMO.

  • Jayfeather787

    While Chrome OS in general is not a very complete OS, I like it very much. It is simple and fast, and I spend most of my time in the browser anyways. Though I cannot use it, as I like some features better in real Linux, I am really excited about this OS, and look forward to it being developed into a full Linux distro. Make it happen Google, that would be incredible :)

  • Greg Thomson

    Athena could be a replacement for the X windowing system. In Linux, which Chrome OS is built on, the layers of the OS basically go like this: (bottom to top) kernel & services > windowing system > window manager. There are already a couple of projects working on this. X is getting a bit old and needs replacing. That said writing a windowing system is no easy task. Most Linux distributions still depend on the X windowing system. There are no stable alternatives. There are dozens of choices when it comes to window managers though.
    This is just a guess but I could see Google writing their own windowing system if they thought it would better suit their needs.

  • JohnLElkins

    This includes the addition of touch-friendly gestures such as dragging up from the bottom edge for an overview mode and activating a split-screen mode when dragging right from the left edge.

  • s2weden2000

    What happened to the lg chromebase