Google merging Chrome OS and Android? Not so fast

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Android only needs to steal one feature from Chrome OS.

Android, Google’s operating system for mobile phones and tablets, and Chrome OS, its operating system for laptop computers, will soon be merged into one piece of software, according to The Wall Street Journal. Two people familiar with the matter told the Journal that Google engineers have been working on combining the operating systems since 2013, and that the company might show off an early version of the new OS next year. We can speculate for days about what exactly this would look like, but the reality is Google will continue bringing Chrome OS features to Android, and vice versa. 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. And its arrival suggests the supremacy of mobile inside Google, which has prioritized how to best handle the shift away from desktop across all its divisions. 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. Furthermore, Android would benefit from Chrome OS’s security features, which would shore up an area in which the mobile platform has long struggled.

Last year, after Pichai was promoted to SVP of all products, he appointed Hiroshi Lockheimer, his anointed successor, as engineering lead for Android and the Chrome OS. Carriers delay the process for technical reasons, but mainly because they want you to buy a new device, not get more features and improvements on your existing one. There are countless examples of this, but the most recent statistic summarizes the problem well: It took Android Lollipop 10 months to hit 20 percent adoption. On the company earnings call last week, Pichai, now CEO, gave another, telling investors “mobile as a computing paradigm is eventually going to blend with what we think of as desktop today.” Turns out, eventually is coming soon. Google’s quick response to the Journal report can be taken one of two ways: Google truly is committed to Chrome OS far beyond 2017, and perhaps is only investigating the logistics of a hybrid OS.

Google has somewhat addressed the problem by shoving many features, especially the ones developers need to make better apps, into Google Play Services. It shutters products with user numbers that many companies would kill for (remember Reader?) because they don’t reach the billion-plus of its flagships. Because this is an app, the APK is distributed via the Google Play store, meaning updates are sent down to Android users without anyone but the user being able to stop them. For some time, Google has struggled to juggle both operating systems. (It’s still doing so on television, simultaneously running Android TV and Chromecast.) It’s expensive to maintain both and can be confusing for device makers. That’s the real reason Google is exploring putting Android on devices that Chrome OS traditionally ships on (laptops, and a few desktops): Android is a more successful ecosystem, many times over.

People who have worked with him describe a focus on simplifying Google’s products and historically Byzantine organization, an effort crystalized in a push for a uniform face on products for users and partners, what the company calls “One Google.” However, a key advantage Chrome has is one of Android’s weaknesses. Its security credentials help it with sales to enterprise, particularly to schools, where Chromebook has seen considerable traction; Gartner said the devices will account for 72 percent of the education market this year. If it’s done anything this year (save the whole Alphabet thing), Google has manically reiterated that it does, in fact, have a cohesive plan for mobile. A chief Android distinction from Chrome is that it is built for mobile behavior. “Mobile gives us unique opportunities in terms of better understanding users,” Pichai said on the earnings call. “My long-term view on this is it is as compelling or, in fact, even better than desktop, but it will take us time to get there and we are going to be focused until we get there.”

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Google merging Chrome OS and Android? Not so fast".

* Required fields
Twitter-news
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

dima911@gmail.com

ICQ: 423360519

About this site