July 27, 2012

Google Is Merging Chrome OS And Android

Some prominent CNET editors took to blogging today about the possibility of Google making a Nexus PC based on the Android operating system. The blog was spurred by a reader asking whether Google is likely to build a PC based on Android, Chrome, or some combination thereof. All three of the CNET bloggers agreed that Google would not build a PC/laptop version of Android, because they have Chrome OS and will develop that as their Windows/Mac OS competitor. All three of them said that Android and Chrome OS will not merge any time soon. And all three of them are wrong.

Even if we discount the words of a Google co-founder Sergey Brin in an interview with the very same CNET in which he said that Chrome OS and Android will likely converge over time, the trend s are hard to ignore. Apple just released OS 10.8 Mountain Lion. Its most notable new features are Facebook/Twitter integration, addition of iMessage, Game Center, and the Notification Center. Essentially, what makes this OS different is the inclusion of features that have long existed on the iPhone and iPad.

Similarly, Microsoft is soon releasing Windows 8 which shares the same interface and the same kernel as the Windows Phone 8 operating system. This will give developers the ability to write one app and have it work on Windows phones, tablets, desktop PCs, and even televisions.

What am I getting at here? The name of the game is "unification." Google itself has been unifying its services throughGoogle+ to create one cohesive ecosystem of products that work together. There is no way Google will continue to develop two completely separate operating systems and ignore the trend of merging mobile and desktop into one unified experience.

Both Chrome OS and Android are based on Linux. They both use Webkit. And as of recently, they both use the Chrome browser to access the internet. Right now, the biggest difference is that Chrome for Android cannot run apps from the Chrome Web Store and does not support Chrome extensions. As soon as this is remedied, the Android operating system armed with a fully functional Chrome browser will be able to do all the things Chrome OS does today as well as be able to run stand-alone Android apps.

Will this happen soon? Maybe not. But within 3 to 5 years one of two things will happen. Either Chrome OS will fade away entirely or it will merge with Android to take on Windows and Mac OS.