The Good: Chrome Gets OS X Lion Two-Finger Gestures! The Bad: They’re Backwards.

Considering that it hasn’t even been out a week yet, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many users and developers are still getting used to OS X Lion. This includes Google, makers of the popular Chrome web browser. While we previously noted that a version specifically tailored for Lion was in the works, Google said that it may take a little while. But an update today already brings two key features.

First, Chrome 14, which was just released in the Dev channel today, removes window scrollbars by default. This mimics the look and feel of other OS X Lion apps, include Apple’s own Safari web browser. These bars now only show up when you’re actually scrolling a page.

The second change is much more welcomed — but also frustrating. Two-finger gestures.

Yes, as many Chrome users noticed this past week, Lion broke the ability to flip back and forth between web pages with your fingers. That’s because this was previously done on Chrome in OS X Snow Leopard with three-fingers. But now three-finger swipes default to moving between desktops/apps in Lion.

In Safari, this backward/forward navigation is now done with two-finger left/right gestures. But that wasn’t an option in the current version of Chrome out there. Now, in Chrome 14, it’s the new default way to go backwards and forwards.

Great, right?

Yes, but there’s one big problem. Google implemented it backwards.

Well, to be fair, Google implemented it the same way it has always been, just switching three-finger input to two-finger. But as everyone is learning, Lion also reverses directions of gestures. In other words, swiping right in Safari with two fingers now navigates to the previous page (with a nifty page slide out). But in Chrome, you need to swipe left to do the same thing (without the nifty effect).

If you use both browsers, this is extremely annoying.

In some ways, you can’t fault Google for doing it this way though. Again, this is the way it was, and swiping left to go back makes sense in the context of the way the back button arrow points. But with the visual pull-the-page-back effect you get in Safari, the new way seems to make more sense. Again, you’re now moving the content, not the browsing window.

The way to fix this for now is to use software like BetterTouchTool to customize Chrome’s touch gestures. Eventually, hopefully everyone will get on the same page.