Android plus Chrome OS equals Google's future operating system

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.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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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