Would Google merge Chrome OS and Android?

by: Nate SwannerFebruary 11, 2013


All this fun talk lately about the Chromebook Pixel seems to lead to more questions than answers. Is it real? When will we get it? will it run Android apps? The last one seems to interest us the most. If we could run Android on a Chromebook, would we want to? Is that smart for Google?

As consumers, we would be over the moon if a Chromebook could run Android apps. If the Chromebook Pixel really is going to have a touchscreen, it would make a lot of sense to have Android apps. Android apps are meant for such an interface, and asking developers to go back and alter an app to work on another OS would just be wrong. The line of code reported earlier seems to suggest there is going to be some Android in the new Chromebook, so it’s really promising at this point.

If what we have heard about this new Pixel is all true, it will need to have much more robust specs. As they stand now, 2GB simply isn’t enough to handle normal function. Having Android on board would require so much more power, so we hope that Tegra 4 chipset really is included. If not, it will be another disappointment for the Chromebook, and lend credence to argument that it isn’t a viable platform.

Should Google merge the two?

They really should. Chrome OS has been slow to catch on, and having Android on board would really boost it’s appeal. More (and better) apps are created for Android, so the ability to use those as well as any Chrome apps would be phenomenal. Forget all the talk of “cross platform” being an important factor: if there is an Android-Chrome OS machine in the works, everyone else will have to re-think the way they approach the notebook computer.

Your move, Microsoft.

  • Uffe_Malmo

    “Your move Microsoft?”. It is probably time for the reporter to read up on the subject abit. MS already launched an OS that can run booth apps and normal software, it is called Windows 8.

    • mrband

      Yes, that OS which is dominating tablet and smartphone scenes…

      OH, WAIT! :p

      • Uffe_Malmo

        That is not what the article is about, it is about Chrome OS and Android merging, that has MS already done.

        • AK

          Welcome to online discussion. Go to HackerNews and you will see a topic “Why X is a better app” and everybody will be talking about “Whether Australians are more educated or Armenians”

      • vakama75

        Please Windows 8 is only 4 month old it’s imposible to tell the future.

    • the_ting

      Yes, you are right, but Win 8 is the worst windows by date no games for it nothing. If this is real well i can be 100% sure MS days are over LINUX is taking over!!!!

      • Jason Deveau

        WTF are you talking about? It runs any Windows game ever made, its fully backwards compatible. And Linux is not taking over, Windows 8 has more running installs in 4 months than people using Linux for a home OS, period.

    • Now is that Windows 8 that can’t run “apps” but can run x86 software or is that Windows RT that can run apps but can’t run existing x86 software? Let me know which wrong answer you meant.

      • Uffe_Malmo

        Sigh… All Windows 8 versions run apps. RT (The smartphone OS) does only run Apps.

    • Conner Rhoads

      Except, you know, apps that run on Windows RT *DO NOT* run on Windows 8 and vice a versa.

      • Uffe_Malmo

        Yes they do, se above

      • Jason Deveau

        ya I have Windows 8 pro on my desktop and laptop. It totally does. RT apps run on Pro.

    • Luke

      “can run booth apps and normal software”… please don’t tell me you meant to say “both apps and normal software”… umm, apps (a.k.a. “applications”) are actually a type of “normal” software. Your argument seems nonsensical.

  • Filip Justin

    If they merge them I might consider buying a Chromebook.. So Google..

  • tBs_Battousai

    I Can’t wait for this to happen…

  • Oh Nate, how I disagree with you. I think your point made about Android apps is valid. I would really like to see Android apps run on Chrome OS, for a lot of things, they would fill the gap with little utilities etc etc. For instance, it’s solve the Twitter app gap and a lot of news apps on Android are better looking than the web and web apps.

    Having said that, I think Chrome OS is more a Desktop OS than you think it is. After all, it’s pretty much a full-fledged Linux distro of Google’s creation. Merging the two isn’t anywhere near as easy as it sounds.

    Chrome OS should stand on its own two feet before it brings in anything too much from Android. Think about it, Android apps on tablets aren’t exactly great, so can you imagine what they’re going to look like on 11.6″ and above screens?

    Never mind all that. Chrome OS is already a better OS than Android, for a lot of things. Load up Chrome on your tablet, throw a keyboard or mouse in there and then put it next to a Chromebook. The Chromebook wins, every single time.

  • I called it as one of my “predictions for 2013”

  • Am I the only one that is laughing at Microsoft’s attempt at competing with Android and Apple. No the name MSBook just sounds like total crap sorry to say.

  • QuanahHarjo

    I think it would be smart to roll Dalvik into ChromeOS. Having apps on the Chromebook that would still be in a tight sandbox would continue to promote the security that the Chromebook is lauded for. It would also give developers a familiar (if slightly wonky) environment to write apps in. I see this less as “Android in mah Chromez!” And more of a way for Google to control what can actually be ran on Chromebooks.

    I would consider a Pixel…but only if it has some way to tabletfy, like a Yoga.

  • AK

    For some reason I’ve high hopes from Tizen. This move, if at all, will be an opportunity of a lifetime for Tizen and stakeholders.

    • Jeremy Lakey

      I’m curious, what are the advantages Tizen would bring? iOS is pretty and easy to use. Windows could integrate with other Microsoft products, particularly Office. Android is cheaper and more open. For each of these, there’s an opening in the market / a huge reason to use that OS over others. I don’t see another opening in the market. Do you?

      From what little I know, Tizen seems to be an attempt to fill the same niche as Android, but not be as good at it. I see that Android makes consumers and OEMs somewhat subject to Google’s whims, but only to the extent that they let Google front the cost.

      Is there something I’m missing? It’s an honest question, I know almost nothing about Tizen.

      • AK

        Well, even I do not know almost anything about the market. I am an engineer in the Android team(Samsung). Worked on Tizen for some time – there was some need. Liked the OS. Look wise it feels mostly like Android(to me at least). Felt snappier on that prototype h/w.

        My peeve is also Google’s whims. Especially when Google starts making its own phones. I firmly believe it will. But looking at how various corporates are working on it I do not exactly see how the releases are going to be much different from Android. I mean are they going to keep every single chek-in public right from the moment “submit” was clicked or will keep it under a veil and will release when they feel appropriate or comfortable.

        Yes, even I do not see much of an opening but if OEMs starts adopting and which they will(remember Samsung’s Microsoft parternship announcement next day Google bought Moto – was no coincidence) and their will be a hole in market and it will grow bigger if more OEMs jump-in. And no Tizen is not here to fill and market/user-need niche at all. I think it’s just there(IMHO) to keep Google in check :-)

        Windows phone feels okay and after use it was not at all pleasant neither felt good. Maybe average. It might have sth to do with all those Windows BSOD memories and the pathological hatred :-)

        No doubt iOS is easy to use and pretty(I would have bought one just to feel how much it’s different from Android a user point of view) but I didn’t because of the sheer cost. Have used a friend’s 5 for around 15 days. Didn’t like it except the pretties.

        I see many Galaxy S2’s around me still running GB and majority on ICS(that is 2 versions behind) which is pathetic. Non-Samsung Android phones are in even worse shapes. I cannot give you much details(not because of secrecy but because my lack of knowledge) but what I have seen and heard the updates will be more frequent and streamlined. It’s being designed in a way that porting for update shall not depend that hugely upon minor hardware changes and chips and all. You know what is Google’s real whim – they somehow feel the need to keep changing some particular libraries every year, just when the OEM was comfortable working on it they for “god-knows-what” reason change that stack. Look at the Bluedroid stack. BlueZ was so good and stable and they have adopted Bluedroid now and have released a highly unstable stack/product to the market. Yes, ask any 4.2 user and he will telly you what a nightmare Bluetooth is on 4.2. There was no reason for this migration at all and it was probably the 4th or 5th migration.

        • Dave

          What is probably going on with Bluetooth has to do that new peripheral Google’s been working on lately. In regards to changing things on a whim, it is nowhere near the level its always been with Apple. I wonder how stable Bluetooth is on Tizen?

          • AK

            Last time I checked it was good on Tizen. We tested with test apps. What peripheral? I had my old phone->updated to 4.1 then 4.2 and it starts misbehaving(it’s not just me)->NOW?Which peripheral?

            I was not at all comparing whether Apple’s whim coefficient is higher or Google’s :-)

            AAMOF I am a very new Apple user(latest MBA 13″ and a full keyboard is all I ever owned that was made/sold/marketed by Apple) and I think I am satisfied.

          • Daveman

            Here’s a hint. It starts with Gl… As a developer your going to find it hard to build up much code on shifting sands around the rotten Apple. They will capriciously break your code with every point release of their system just to sell you more hardware. Be prepared to rewrite huge amounts of your code on a whim…

          • AK

            Your point being? Why would I be writing code for Apple and when did I say I do so or had plans to do so?

            Are you the same “Dave” as above? A little clear-up will be appreciated. I might have missed few connects.

  • Jeremy Lakey

    Android is a great touchscreen OS, and touchscreens are great if you’re laying, standing, moving around, etc. But for serious, sitting up computer use, a touchscreen would be exhausting to use. Imagine holding your arm up for an hour. So I don’t see how Android would be a helpful addition to ChromeOS besides adding apps that are not yet available for Chromebooks but should be. And Android seems much slower than Chrome.

    Google should focus instead on further developing Chrome/web based apps that could replace key applications like Photoshop and Excel. That would boost ChromeOS, force Microsoft to step up its game and make the world a better place.

    Google Drive also could use some development with more utilities (ie more easily converting files, merging PDFs, etc.). Drive has the potential to be a big improvement on the traditional hard drive.

  • Jose_Mendoza

    I totally welcome this marriage between oses… I would love to run firefox on chromeos and save music from google music on chromeos. Actually that was the only thing that stopped me from buying a chromebook.

  • Ivan Myring

    Uhh… Since when is 2GB RAM not enough for android

  • companyemails

    The two systems are very, VERY different, so I would argue that now, we are not seeing a merger. Instead, I think that what we are seeing is the bringing of certain features of Android into ChromeOS and a deeper integration of the interoperability of services that operate on both (especially Google services).

  • Andrew Mezzi

    Google shouldn’t merge the two. First, there would be a problem with apps. I think that giving Chrome OS the ability to run Android apps would kill it. When Honeycomb came out, there were no tablet optimized apps. We didn’t get any good ones until the Nexus 7 came out. The situation would be even worse on Chrome, though. At least phone apps work on a tablet, but try using a touch optimized app with features like long presses and multitouch on a laptop. If Chrome OS got the ability to run these apps, nobody would buy it because of how bad the programs are.

    Second, Chrome and Android serve different purposes. Chrome is supposed to be used as a purely cloud computing device. It boots in seconds, runs fast, doesn’t get viruses, and is always up to date. Android is meant to be a full featured OS that is on your mobile devices. I don’t want to see Chrome make any major changes. I’d rather it remained just a web browser.

    • Aiyayay

      That’s the problem, I just don’t see why lots of people will buy a web-browser for more than $200. It certainly isn’t going to be popular in countries with unreliable internet. And Google seems to be aiming for the World (as shown with it’s new Nexus 4, cutting the budget for an LTE modem, because there’s still little support for LTE in countries outside Europe and America)

      • Andrew Mezzi

        Your point about unreliable internet is valid, but I don’t think that that’s why Google left off LTE support. I think that LTE support was left off so that Google didn’t need to listen to carriers. No carrier allows unlocked LTE phones right now, so if Google included LTE, there would be a Verizon Galaxy Nexus situation, except on all the carriers.

  • Dave

    The only way a merge like could work is, has to be a full desktop OS not just a web based OS. The users need to have access to google store desktop app plus be stable and let users choose when to update. Windows 8 is ok it was not liked for the changes to the interface. Plus I skipped that one two I am still using windows 7 and have no issues.
    In the future thinking OSX or Ubuntu host and virtual windows 7 guest OS yes is is possible I have already done this.

    With auto updates in windows 10 I am going to pass on windows 10. Of course windows 10 is free they have millions of beta testers that will install it. From what I have read I need my PC to function not be in a endless update loop. I have had a mac book 2009 best part of the OSX no security updates every single week. On top of that the last 3 OSX updates did not cost me a penny. If MS is reading this give back control of our Computers or I will be an OSX defector. I had minor issues with OSX but I had to reinstall windows twice in the last two years due to updates not installing correctly.