Android plus Chrome OS equals Google's future operating system

Android plus Chrome OS equals Google's future operating system

Summary: We still don't know where Google is going with Android and Chrome OS, but putting Chrome's top executive in charge of Android is a big, honking hint.

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So, will Google call it hybrid Android/Chrome operating system? Will it be Chromezoid? Android OS? ChromeDroid OS? ChromeAndrogeny!?

We still don't know that Google will be marrying Chrome OS and Android into one operating system. But Sundar Pichai, the head of all things Chrome at Google is replacing Andy Rubin, Android's founder, as Android's top dog. I think that says a lot.

ChromeAndroid
Coming soon to a device near you? Chromeazoid Rex!? (Credit: Paul Wilcox on Google+)

Officially, when I asked Google if they had any plans on merging the Chrome OS and Android developer teams, I was told, "Thanks for reaching out, but we're letting the blog post speak for itself. No additional details to share right now."

Well, they may not have any anything else to share, but a lot of us who make our living from watching technology -- such as Joe Wilcox, Mary Jo Foley, and Dieter Bohn -- all see Google merging the two Linux-based operating systems into one.

After all, we've just been listening to Google's own top brass. Back in 2009, Google co-founder Sergey Brin was talking about bringing the two operating systems together. Last year, Pichai himself hinted that Google would bring the Android and Chrome OS together.

So, why hasn't it happened yet?

Well, I think in part it was because the hardware wasn't ready yet. It wasn't really until this year that PCs, with their keyboards (which Chrome OS needed), also had the touch screens (that Android needed) and were widely available at affordable prices. And, what has Google just released? Why the pricey -- but not outrageously expensive -- Chromebook Pixel, which has both a keyboard and a touch screen! Coincidence? I think not.

My colleagues over at CNET, Stephen Shankland and Casey Newton, think that the real problem is that Web apps, which is what Chrome OS relies on, aren't as mature as Android's native apps. I don't agree with them on this.

I don't see any reason why Chrome's apps can't run on top of Android; or, for that matter, why Android's apps can't run on top of Chrome. Both operating systems, at heart, are Linux distributions. Their foundations are the same. Their differences are all at the interface level and just below it.

Now that would be a big problem, except Google already has the Chrome Web browser running on Android. Getting it to work smoothly? Yes, that's going to take some time. But, I, for one, won't be surprised to see a beta Chromeazoid Rex, or whatever Google ends up calling it, sometime later this year.

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Topics: Android, Hardware, Laptops, Linux, Open Source, Software Development

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72 comments
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  • Maybe it was to increase android security?

    Since Chrome OS wasn't "hackable" or something similar in the pwnium contest.
    icyrock
    • SJVN strikes again

      Running Android Apps on Chrome, how? Where do you put that Java run time inside Chrome browser? It's like trying to fit a Chevy engine onto a BUICK sedan and thinking it should work since they are both GM. This guy is clueless.
      LBiege
      • So you think this is technically impossible?!

        that's funny you think others are clueless ;)
        L3thargic
        • Technically possible, but

          why?

          I still don't see the need to merge them. Possible, but not needed. If Google attempts to combine, perhaps it'll be Windows 8 by Google.
          Cynical99
      • A Chevy engine in a Buick ....

        would work fine after a few minor mods, perhaps to the engine computer SW and perhaps engine mounts.

        They both have the same types of inputs/outputs/interfaces, and chances are excellent that they even come from the same engine production line.
        D.T.Long
      • poor analogy Buicks have had chevrolet engines in them

        as production needs since the 1990's and it should be no harder to do you Chrome/Android
        winddrift03
      • Android runs in a VM

        The Android runtime is very portable and flexible - note how well Android works as a runtime on QNX for RIM.

        So, yes, the Android run time could added to Chrome.

        I would suggest that it should be optional - it shouldn't be forced on Chrome users, but I think it could really blow things open if they did this.

        (But I don't think they will given recent developments, e.g. Rubin out and native Docs delivered via NaCl.)
        ZedTom
      • @ L. Biege

        You are a totally clueless and a complete moron if you think this is difficult to do.

        They both have the same engine - Linux so running both on the same OS side by side would be easy. It would be desirable to allow Android apps to run in any Chrome browser, not just the ChromeOS browser. Running Android within the Chrome browser could be handled by integrating the Android app engine into the Chrome browser and then allowing Android apps to run from browser plug-ins. However if I were doing it, I would run Android in the cloud (or as much of it as possible) so that the big advantage of ChromeOS over Android, iOS, Windows, OSX, namely zero maintenance, zero touch administration features of ChromeOS are preserved.
        Mah
      • Not impossible.

        Why would it be impossible? Chrome already has multiple JIT compilers and even Blackberry can run android apps.... I have no doubt the functionality is already in the pipeline.
        Todd Adams
    • Rubin bailing out of Android was the first big honkin hint.

      almost feel bad for him but the writing was on the wall.
      Johnny Vegas
      • Take Rubin at his word

        There is nothing to feel sorry about, Rubin just wants to have fun. It's a lot more fun to start something new then to keep cranking out updated versions of a an existing product no matter how successful that system is. Rubin had nothing to prove with Android anymore, it's the most successfull OS in history going from 0 to 750 Million devices in only four years. The challenge for a guy like Rubin is to do it again. Other people get their satisfaction by running large programs or companies so it was time to pass Android on to someone who wants to do that.
        bjrosen@...
        • So you are saying there's nothing new in Android any more?

          Well that's not a good spin.
          LBiege
          • No. He was saying that Android is the most successful OS in history

            do you feel threatened? Seems the people working for the beleaguered OS provider from Redmond are running scared...
            theo_durcan
      • He is staying at Google, so he hasn't been ousted.

        It also makes sense to put Pichar in charge of both if the two are to be integrated, because while Android is a mature platform now, ChromeOS is still developing rapidly. Therefore most of the coding and development effort to merge will have to go into Chrome.
        Mah
    • RE: Maybe it was to increase android security?

      Android needs security improvements on three levels:

      o Clean up their App Store, Google Play
      o Get their partners to put out Android updates and upgrades in a timely manner
      o Merge code from the security-enhanced android project into their own Android code:

      http://selinuxproject.org/page/SEAndroid

      In addition, Google has recently ported QuickOffice, via native client, to the Chrome browser on Chrome OS for the Chromebook Pixel. QuickOffice, prior to its acquisition by Google, ran on both Android and iOS. If Google can port QuicKOffice, they can port other Android apps to Chrome OS.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Google, One trick Pony

    Google was only successful in search, their other business are just sh*t and are stolen or open source. Some Google services are popular because they are free. Would anybody pay for it, NO. Because they are not business class.

    Google will be dead if they loose in search. Bing is getting stronger in market share and Bing search is simply better than Google.

    Like Apple crumbled in share price, Google is nothing but a sitting duck.
    Owlll1net
    • Sir

      You're hilarious. Keep on the good work.
      Herby Stoukette
    • Bing? Let's just take a second to let that sink in...

      Bing.

      Speaking as someone who has used bing....

      No.

      Oh additionally people, businesses pay for google services all the time?

      Anyway. Search, mail, calendar, docs, mobile OS, desktop -crappy- OS, online marketplace, music store, hardware, enterprise services.

      Is that the pony from the three adds?

      I don't like google much... Aren't many mega corps I do like. I even rooted my phone to de google it. Yet I find myself defending them here in the name of sanity?! Thanks for that.
      MarknWill
      • Look at recent Ebay study

        Paying for ads in Search is a waste of money, 97% of Google income is from search.... in 5 years time new advert model will emerge and Google will be dead....
        Owlll1net
        • Or... Their fiscal report?

          http://investor.google.com/earnings/2012/Q4_google_earnings.html

          They're an ad company. Their revenue comes from ads on all their sites and services.

          I don't see how that helps us predict the future. We can look at the past; they started in a competitive search industry (remember lycos?) and they obliterated it. I have no idea about the future, but looking at their fiscal data doesn't provide me a Crystal ball.
          MarknWill