Chrome OS might be in for a visual overhaul. Late last week, Google's François Beaufort posted the first public screenshot of Athena, which he describes as "a brand new project the Chromium OS team is experimenting with in order to bring a new kind of user experience." The screenshot, according to Beaufort, shows some "simple window management" in action.
As Ars Technica points out, the Athena UI depicted in the screenshot doesn't look all that different from the new multitasking interface in Android L, the next major Android release Google announced a month ago. The browser "cards" are arranged in the same way, and even the network and battery indicators are in the same spot. The only notable difference is the dock-looking thing at the bottom.
Given the similarities with Android, Ars speculates that Athena could take Chrome OS in a more touch-friendly direction—at least compared to the current interface, which is very Windows-y in the old-school desktop sense. The vast majority of today's Chromebooks aren't equipped with touch screens, but a couple of exceptions do exist. (Among them: Google's own outrageously expensive Chromebook Pixel.) Perhaps we'll see more of them in the future.
In any event, Beaufort says you can follow Athena's development by grabbing the Chromium source code and "compiling the convenient 'athena_main' target with ninja -C out/Release athena_main."