Google has quietly launched a new web app called Google Canvas, a tool for drawing directly within a browser. The web app has an interface that resembles Adobe’s mobile drawing apps, including simple tools on the left side of the screen, a blank canvas, and an undo button. The app is free to use and can be launched using Google’s own Chrome browser.
Though drawing-based note-taking apps are readily available on mobile devices, they’re less accessible on desktops, often requiring third-party software that disrupts one’s workflow. Google Chrome Canvas offers itself as a solution, making handwritten note-taking and drawing as simple as clicking on a shortcut button.
The Canvas tool can be found by visiting “canvas.apps.chrome” — users are prompted to sign in with their Google account, which saves copies of their work. This synced work can be accessed on multiple devices, assuming the same Google account is used.
The tools are basic and won’t be replacing any higher end drawing or note-taking app; users get a pen, pencil, marker, charcoal, and an eraser. Drawings- directly exported as PNG images. As well, users can open an existing image to import into Canvas. The web app worked perfectly with both a mouse and a stylus when tested.
According to Chrome Unboxed, which first spotted the tool, the app is showing up as a pre-installed offering on some Chromebooks using dev channels.
What does canvas do?
For now, the app is pretty straightforward. You get a nice selection of tools like a pencil, inkpen, marker and chalk with variations of stroke width and opacity. You can also select from any hex color, so the color palette is insanely wide. Additionally, you can import an image to draw on as well. Pressure sensitivity is along for the ride, but only really shows up in the pencil and chalk tools for now. As you save your work, it instantly becomes available to any other device looking at Chrome Canvas logged into the same account.
Latency is also quite good. We assume Chrome Canvas- built on the tools discovered last week in Google Ink. It’s a new software library by Google that leverages web functionality for low-latency pen input. Chrome Canvas isn’t that tool. But it seems to be leveraging the same toolset from Google Ink that the upcoming PDF annotation will. We aren’t sure exactly how long Chrome Canvas has existed, but it seems clear Google is getting ready to drop it on the public. As stated earlier, Chromebooks in both Dev and Canary Channel booting up with the web app installed and available in the app drawer automatically.