The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

Summary: Google will soon have two operating systems: Chrome OS and Android. What's the difference?


On December 7th, Google is expected to announce the release of a laptop with the first version of the Chrome operating system. Concurrently, Google is going great guns with Android. Does Google really need two operating systems? So what's going on here?

Here's what Google is up to. Yes, both Android and Chrome OS are Linux-based operating systems. Neither, at the application level, uses the common Linux desktop application programming interfaces (API) that are used by the GNOME or KDE desktops and their applications.

They're also similar in that both use a common set of techniques to make them more secure. The most important of these is process sand-boxing. What this means is that any Chrome or Android application has just enough access to the system to do its job.

Once you're past this, the two look and act in very different ways. Here are their main points of difference:

1) Android is for Phones & Tablets; Chrome OS is for Netbooks

Google said at the start that "Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the Web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems." Google hasn't always been on message with this.

Google also took its time getting even a Chrome beta out the door. Now that Chrome OS is about to be unveiled, we know that it is going to be Google's "desktop" operating system, while Android is for smart phones and tablets.

The Android interface is designed foremost for touch. Google Chrome OS looks and acts just like the Chrome Web browser.

2) Chrome OS won't run Linux desktop or Android Apps

I use quotes around "desktop" with good reason. While Chrome OS will be used like a desktop operating system, it's not a traditional fat-client desktop like Windows or even a Linux desktop such as Mint. Instead, all of its "applications" will be cloud-based. To see what I mean, just look at the Chrome browser and Google Apps. You're looking at a sketch of the Google Chrome OS.

There will be just enough Linux in Chrome OS--thanks, in part, to Ubuntu-- to support the browser and Web-based applications. You will also likely be able to run some traditional desktop applicationsusing a remote-client computing technology called "Chromoting."

As for Android applications, where all the applications are Java-based and depend on Dalvik, I don't see any way that those applications will run on Chrome OS.

3) Chrome OS Constantly Updated

Like the Chrome browser, you can expect Chrome OS to be patched and improved constantly. This instead of being patched to fix problems or having features added in service packs, Chrome OS, for better or worse, will continually evolve. With Chrome OS, there won't be any wait for different versions a la Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Still having trouble visualizing it? Well, don't worry too much. Within the next few days, we'll have the opportunity to see Chrome OS and see how it differs from Android and other desktop operating systems.

Topics: Browser, Android, Google, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • RE: The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

    Hmmm... I having trouble understanding how anyone could have trouble understanding. No disrespect - but haven't we known about all of these aspects for almost two years ?
    • That was ...


      my reaction too.

      Except I do not see why Android on a smart book might not be a great solution instead of a netbook with Chrome OS, unless you really want to use Google Apps and the cloud.
      • Welcome to SJVN

        @Economister <br>- <br>Welcome to having SJVN on the scene. I subscribed to this feed b4 he snuck over here too, cause I was sick of his repetitive and deadline-based writing where meeting word count and time deadline is far more important than content. <br><br>This type of writing means just pulling out an old article, brushing the dust off and re-submitting it rather than researching something new or of use. Now this blog is literally running the same content and same titles as his other ones. Same re-treaded material rolled out again and again.<br><br>The world of SJVN.<br>It sucks, but maybe it's because he's using his "<b>old</b>" standby... what is that machine, Steven? a 6 month old what?
    • Well, maybe true, but, as ChromeOS is about to be released to Google

      employees, this is a good time to discuss the differences and clarify things, and give people a chance to comment.
    • RE: The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

      @mybunkaccount@... People who pay close attention to tech. know what's what, but over the weekend I was asked by three different people who did have some clues about tech what was what here so I wrote this rather than repeat myself.

      Give yourself credit for being more tech. savvy than a lot of folks! :-)

    • the real issue is


      Why do they have 2 OS's? Being that they started from scratch, you would expect them to have built one OS that serves both devices.

      Now of course it is still possible that much of the codebase is shared and so there are still efficiencies but many people think it odd that Google would want to maintain 2 separate OS's.
  • RE: The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

    Keywords about Android and Chrome OS:<br>Android: touch, mobile phones, <a href="">native applications</a>...<br>Chrome OS: key-board based solution, netbooks, web-based software...
    • RE: The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

      @Titlow I like how you used a hyphen between key and board in keyboard, as if you're from the 1950's.
    • I still think that Google should allow native applications that are signed

      and come from an app store. I could see two types of applications:

      1) Davik based, but re-written for keyboard and mouse and larger screents.

      2) Win32 applications that must be recompiled for WineLib and signed, then specially sandboxed. That would give vendors a quick route to make ChromeOS applications by converting old Win32 applications.
      • RE: The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android


        Chrome will include a RDP client that it will be able to run Windows apps remotely. This feature will be called Chromoting. You can use ThinServer to power up the remote apps
  • Fourth difference

    Chrome OS will flop.
    They started with a browser, and said 'lets make this into an OS'.
    Android started from a need. Users want iPhone without nanny Apple ....
    People buy stuff to fill their needs, they don't buy what companies offer because the company thinks it suits them.

    Wave anyone?
    • FThe ourth difference is key


      Wave goodbye to Chrome OS (the failures are stacking up). People are going to laugh Google right out of the enterprise on this one.

      Engineers are jumping to FaceBook like rats off a sinking ship.
      • RE: The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

        @hubivedder 2-3 engineers (no matter how talented) are hardly "like rats off a sinking ship" mate. How about the other 19,997 talented engineers that remained?
      • Engineering?

        Facebook is a horror to an engineer. Perhaps a better word would be whore, it's all about the money. A moving target, unpredictable, and with more holes than a swiss cheese factory. Anyone engineering for that environment is well paid and can hold their nose while working.
    • ChromeOS is filling a vacuum. There are tons out there that only need a

      browser when on the run. The need to be able to check email, do facebook, browse, search, web applications, and NOTHING more.

      And, given that web applications are becoming much more like desktop applications, ChromeOS is coming at just the right time.
      • RE: The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

        @DonnieBoy <br><br><i>"ChromeOS is filling a vacuum. There are tons out there that only need a...browser when on the run. The need to be able to check email, do facebook, browse, search, web applications, and NOTHING more."</i><br><br>That sounds an awful lot like what we do with our smart phones and iPads today. Sorry just don't see the need for such an OS on Netbooks. And with it being web based (web apps and services), you most likely will need a constant data connection anyway. So yet another device tied to carriers with contracts paying yet another data fee (my guess). I see consumers wanting an alternative to Apple getting excited for Android Tablets once they finally get off the ground (that is of course with Google's official support). Will take more than the usual snoozefest presentation tomorrow to get people excited on this Chrome OS for Netbooks.<br><br>I can't believe that I'm in agreement with Ballmer when he questioned the need for two OS's?
      • Absolutely wrong.

        There are tons of people who need to be able to check email, do facebook, browse, search do web applications and USUALLY nothing more. It's that "usually" where Chrome OS dies.
      • Wrong

        @DonnieBoy <br><br>I think you underestimate what people actually do on PC's/Mac's nowadays. <br><br>And web apps are no replacements for desktop apps. Not yet, and won't be for some time.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: The Three Differences between Chrome OS and Android

        @Cylon Centurion 0005
        gonna have to disagree with you that web apps cannot replace desktop apps anytime soon. I've been doing this development thing for quite some time now. My last iteration of web app was to just have web app. Clearly, there is a distinction between desktop app and web app. I've been working hard to figure out all the "necessary" stuff that users want from a web app to make it feel identical to a desktop app. That bridge is here. As tools like jquery evolves more, there is very little difference between desktop and web apps now. In my next project, my goal is precisely to make people forget that they are using a web app. That means every right mouse click, menu drop down, messagebox popping functionality will be there and will be quick.
      • Thats right Donnieboy!!

        ChromeOS is comming at the PERFECT time, as we both understand that Google doesn't know the meaning of the word failure. Once again their timing is DEAD ON!!
        Ron Bergundy