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Google To Combine Android And Chrome Operating Systems Into One
Many believe Chrome OS is being killed in favor of Android's greater reach.
This afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google will be “folding” Chrome into Android. What this means as a technical matter may be complicated; what it means practically is simple: Android has won.
From a developer point of view, it makes sense to combine the two operating systems to minimize fragmentation. Yet Google and its OEM partners have had considerable success with Chromebooks. But compared to Android, the globe’s dominant computing platform, Chromebook sales are meager.
Some people have remarked that “folding” is a euphemism for “killing” Chrome. However, the WSJ article asserts that Google engineers are creating a hybrid operating system:
Google engineers have been working for roughly two years to combine the operating systems and have made progress recently, two of the people said. The company plans to unveil its new, single operating system in 2017, but expects to show off an early version next year, one of the people said.
In a sense, this combining of operating systems mirrors Microsoft’s go-forward approach with its single “responsive” Windows OS. Apple has gone in the opposite direction, developing overlapping yet distinct operating systems for Macs, mobile devices, the Apple Watch and most recently, Apple TV.
A harbinger of the change was the recent introduction of the Pixel C tablet, which is like the Chromebook Pixel but uses Android rather than Chrome OS. My unsubstantiated sense is that Chrome apps were not widely used, let alone a revenue generator for developers or the company. The new hybrid OS will have the advantage of access to Google Play apps.
The WSJ article concludes by saying that “Chromebooks will get a new, as yet undetermined name,” while Chrome will remain the name of Google’s popular browser.