So Google have finally taken the leap. They are going to merge Android and Chrome OS.
The Wall Street Journal report that Google have announced a formal move, with the Android OS expected to be tweaked and take over Chrome OS rather than the other way around. It seems the plan is to launch the new OS in early 2017, and we can no doubt expect development builds to appear before that.
Just what this will mean for current users of both systems is unclear, but Chromebooks will no longer be Chromebooks, although the OS is apparently to be opened out to hardware makers so that they can continue to utilise it. The Chromebook OS doesn’t have the same appeal as Android with a lack of apps and a user base which is hardly troubling Microsoft. Android on the other hand isn’t very useful when presented with a keyboard or mouse. The big trick Google will have to pull off is a seamless interaction between all types of devices whereby the user experience remains the same whether on a 3” smart phone screen, or on a 50” IPS display.
This should be a good move for Google. An already massive Android user base which knows what to expect will be hungry for a light replacement to Windows and it’s forced updates (see the previous article). If they can manage to come up with a system that keeps the simplistic usability of Android with the functionality of a full OS working on a desktop, then they might just start a revolution.
No doubt we’ll have more announcements soon from hardware manufacturers, and it will be interesting to see what the web community makes of it all.
Edit: 03/11/2015 – So it appears that Google are now saying Chrome will not be killed off as an OS. A post on the Chrome blog has categorically denied any intention to get rid of the system, saying it is staying and will remain supported for the foreseeable future. It seems the Wall Street Journal may have got the wrong end of the stick from a development post which discussed amending Android to work on laptop form factor. So if you own a Chromebook, then stop panicking, It isn’t going anywhere!