Chrome OS: 3 reasons Google should ditch it, and one reason it shouldn’t

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google Chrome OS to be merged with Android: reports.

plans to merge its Chrome OS for laptops with Android, says a report in the Wall Street Journal, which quotes people who are familiar with the company’s plans.Sundar Pichai, now CEO of Google, speaks during the Google I/O 2015 keynote presentation in San Francisco, Thursday, May 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) In a little over a year, Chrome and Android might be the same thing. According to the report, engineers have been working on the plan for the last two years and the new single OS will be launched in 2017, although an early build could be revealed by next year. Research firm Gartner reported in January that 1.1 billion Android devices were shipped in 2014 – almost as many as iOS phones and tablets, Mac and Windows computers, and all other devices combined.

Interestingly, Chrome, Chromecast and Android’s senior VP Hiroshi Lockheimer took to Twitter after the report and said that the company is seeing a “ton of momentum for Chromebooks” and that they are still “very committed to Chrome OS.” Chrome OS currently runs on Google’s Internet-connected laptops and offers a more web-browser based experience for computing. By contrast, Chrome OS accounted for about five percent of laptop sales in 2014, and while top-shelf Chrome OS computers such as the Chromebook Pixel exist, most of those sales were sub-$300 models. Android needs to be modified so that it can run smoothly on laptop and desktop computers, which means supporting keyboard and mouse input, allowing for much larger displays, and letting the system take advantage of high-end graphics cards.

Despite assurances (likely aimed to calm the fears among current and potential partners), doing away with Chrome OS in favor of Android isn’t such a bad idea because of how successful Android has become. Adding the OS to laptops seems like a natural progression of sorts, and would streamline the experience for users on all devices running Google software. In the long term, however, combining Android and Chrome OS into a single operating system will make things simpler for Google, because the company won’t have to support and develop two different software platforms. The move might also encourage developers who would typically gravitate to iOS first to choose Android/Chrome instead, since it will allow them to reach more customers. That’s the route Microsoft started down with Windows 8 and continued in Windows 10, which employs “universal apps” that run on tiny phone screens and brawny desktop PCs alike.

In fact, I noted the similarities in my review of the ASUS Chromebook Flip back in July saying, ”I can’t help but wonder when the company will offer users a Chrome OS tablet.” The two platforms would benefit from borrowing features from one another, such as bringing Chrome OS’s multitasking-experience to Android, and adding the Play Store (with its 1.75 million Android apps) to Chrome OS. A separate report from The Verge suggests that Google won’t be killing off the existing operating systems as part of the merger, but instead will create a new merged version as a third operating system that exists in addition to the existing two.

Google has not made an official announcement about the future of either operating system or the possibility of a merged version of the two OS’ hitting the market. I just bought two for my kids for schoolwork!” That means that Chrome OS features probably won’t disappear entirely as the software is folded in to Android – instead, Google will try to combine the strengths of both operating systems to create something that’s reasonably pleasant to use no matter what size screen you’re on.

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