ALPHABET SUBSIDIARY Google (still sounds weird, right?) has denied reports that it's planning to merge Chrome OS and Android into a single platform.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the firm has, as most analysts suspected, been working towards merging Chrome fully into Android for the past two years, but recent advances will allow it to reveal a fully fledged Android-Chrome hybrid, expected to be called Android, in 2017.
Google, while not denying the report, has since reaffirmed its commitment to Chrome OS. Hiroshi Lockheimer, head of Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast at Google, said in a statement sent to The INQUIRER: "There’s a ton of momentum for Chromebooks and we are very committed to Chrome OS. I just bought two for my kids for schoolwork."
The two operating systems have co-existed in a separate but symbiotic way for several years, but it has been clear that the situation was not tenable or even logical in the longer term. Android sits comfortably as the world's most widely used operating system, but it seemed only a matter of time before Chrome OS, based on the popular Chrome Browser, was rolled in.
Chromebooks, laptops powered by Chrome OS, are proving increasingly popular owing to their low cost and increasing app availability, yet still account for only three percent of the laptop market.
An Android runtime for Chrome browser and Chrome OS already exists, but Google has been sparing on the number of apps it makes available through this method. Any Android app can be hacked to work on a Chromebook, however.
The unveiling of the Chromebook Pixel C, the company's business product, which is to be powered by Android rather than Chrome, should have been the first hint that the internal war between the cloud apps of Chrome and the downloaded apps of Android had been won.
Concentrating on Android will allow Google to entice even more developers to create apps that will run on anything from a watch to a car to a television with very little adaptation, all available through the Play store which offers far more apps than the Chrome Web Store.
The WSJ's sources said that Chromebooks will get a new name (we're hoping for Droidbook) and that Chrome will remain the name of its browser, which will, logically, have full access to run Play store apps on any system, increasing the potential user base by billions of devices.
The report also confirms that Chrome OS will remain available as an open source project and that third parties can continue to release laptops and devices based on it, but that Google's focus will be on the new combined Android.
The decision creates a headache for Microsoft, which has recently been working hard, some would say too hard, on bringing all its devices under the single banner of Windows 10, but has failed to inspire some key areas of the market, including the mobile edition, which is yet to appear.
Meanwhile, Google has a proven track record in bringing Android to a vast range of devices, and a conversion of its laptop machines is the final frontier towards making a dramatic fight for dominance against Microsoft.
Apple, on the other hand, has said that it will continue to keep its mobile and desktop operating systems complementary but separate, as Tim Cook believes that both would be diluted by a merger. µ
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