PC Manufacturers Welcome Combined Chrome Android OS
At the weekend it was revealed that Alphabet’s Google plans to fold its Chrome operating system for personal computers into its Android mobile operating system with a new OS set to be revealed late in 2016 or early in 2017.
Several PC manufacturers that ChannelNews has spoken to have welcomed the move after Microsoft moved to expand their own PC hardware business in direct competition with PC manufacturers.
Google engineers have been working for roughly two years to combine the operating systems and have made progress recently according to the Wall Street Journal.
ChannelNews has been told that a new Google Docs bundle is also being developed that will take on Microsoft Office.
Android is the world’s most widely used operating system, powering more than one billion phones and other devices made by dozens of companies. Chrome powers personal computers, most often laptops, called Chromebooks. They are niche players, accounting for less than 3% of PCs according to research firm IDC.
The Wall Street Journal said that the move is also an attempt by Google to get Android running on as many devices as possible to reach as many people as possible. The operating system runs phones, tablets, watches, TVs and car infotainment systems. Adding laptops could increase Android’s user base considerably. That should help Google woo more outside developers who want to write apps once and have them work on as many gadgets as possible, with little modification.
In September, Google unveiled a tablet aimed at the workplace called the Pixel C, which runs on Android. It is the first device in the company’s Pixel line of laptops and tablets to drop the Chrome operating system. Last year, Google made some Android apps available on Chromebooks.
Chrome and Android share a common heritage in Linux open-source software. But they differ in significant ways and combining them won’t be easy, people familiar with the matter said.
Laptops have keyboards and larger screens than mobile devices, so users often use multiple apps simultaneously and transfer content among them. Android smartphones and tablets can run multiple apps, but they can’t be shown on the screen at the same time. That makes it hard for users to jump between apps.
The new version of Android will also give PC users access to Google’s Play store, which offers more than one million apps, the people familiar with the matter said.
Analysts claim that by folding Chrome into Android also might help Google win more workplace customers for its productivity apps, such as Docs and Sheets, which would run more seamlessly across different devices. As employees do more work on smartphones and tablets, they expect software and documents to be updated on those devices as well as PCs. That is now a challenge for Google because of the two operating systems.