Should Android and Chrome Be Combined?

Should Android and Google OS Be Combined?A few years ago, I was one of the lucky few who received the Google Cr-48 Chromebook laptop computer. The original model came with Chrome OS installed, which was rather a plain-Jane, vanilla rendition of an operating system. The Chrome OS was extremely limited and those who used it soon recognized these limitations. Though Google has improved the Chrome OS immensely during the past two years, there is one thing that the operating system still lacks, and that is touchscreen technology.

As Google has improved its Android operating system, climaxing with its latest version known as Jelly Bean, Chrome OS took a surprising turn about six months ago. The Chrome OS stopped being a browser only operating system and took on a semblance of looking just like Android. Not only did the Chrome OS start to look like Android, but Google also tossed in a taskbar, which added a little flavor of Windows.

When I proposed writing about the Chrome OS and Android merging, some of my fellow writers here at LockerGnome were quick to express their concerns.

Ryan Matthew Pierson: “Chrome OS has a far better browser. I’m skeptical if only because Android would ruin that minimalistic approach that makes Chrome OS so interesting.”

Harold James Johnson: “Never tried Chrome OS, but I have used Android and just began using Joli OS (and Joli has some similarities to Chrome OS). I understand the desire to simplify things but there this strategy of trying to make ‘all in one’ devices leaves something to be desired. I say no to Android and Chrome OS being integrated.”
Chris Pirillo: “I would be curious to see how it could do this better than Microsoft did with 8/RT – touch vs. non-touch, and you have to speak to that problem if you’re suggesting Google could somehow do it better. How?”

Gentlemen, let’s start by saying this: The main differences between Google Chrome OS and Google Android have become blurred over the years. I see the main difference today as being that Android supports touch, which works its magic on a multitude of devices including smartphones and tablet computers. Google Chrome OS still needs a keyboard and trackpad or mouse to work.

I personally believe that Google has an easier row to hoe than Microsoft has. Microsoft has a wide array of legacy software to support, while at the same time adding touch capabilities to Windows. Windows 8 is a disaster, in my opinion. Having two different operating systems — Modern and the old Windows — is lame and is going to hurt the sales of Windows on either RT or Pro machines. In my opinion, this is counterproductive and frustrating for most of us and is going to be a major reason why some consumers will shun Windows.

Google, on the other hand, has improved its Android system tremendously, to the point where it is a pleasure to use Jelly Bean on either a smartphone or a tablet computer. In addition, I have used a keyboard with my Nexus 7, and have basically turned the 7″ tablet into a fully functioning laptop computer. Now that Google has a Nexus 10 model, adding a keyboard will be just as simple and, as I did with my iPad, it is economically possible to turn either into a fully functioning laptop.

I believe that Google and its suppliers Samsung and Acer, which have low-priced Chromebooks for sale, can see a day when a touchscreen will be advantageous in addition to having a keyboard. But unlike Microsoft, Google will have a single fully functioning operating system that supports touch and a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad without having to resort to two separate GUIs. The blending of the Chrome OS and Android has been in process for two years and I believe the time has come to take the best of both and combine the separate systems into a single OS.

What do you think?

Comments are welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by BlubrNL

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • Robert O’Donnell

    Nah ūüėÄ . I think Andriod is fine the way it tis. Chrome OS will be taken over by Andriod and Andriod wil run on the PC/Phones/Tablets . But it will be interesting to see how Windows8 will change things up alittle in the Computing world

  • BruceMcL

    One big difference between Android and ChromeOS is that nobody is using ChromeOS! I think Google should work at making their most popular OS work on traditional GUI machines. This would make it easy for those who are using Android on phones and tablets to move up to laptops.
    There are 10 and 11 inch laptops out there with ARM chips running Android 4.x. They are cheap, under $200.00 at Pandwill, Amazon, and other sites. You might want to review one – I haven’t seen any reviews yet and would be very interested in seeing how well the current Android works on a laptop.
    ChromeOS, on the other hand, is not designed primarily for the people who use it. It is designed to appeal to IT departments in large organizations. ChromeOS is great for IT to give to their employees, students, kids, whatever. I’m sure that having Android on the desktop must seem very scary to IT departments in big organizations.
    Summing up, I can’t see any appeal for ChromeOS over Android on a home laptop. But I can understand the appeal for a large organization – like Google.

  • samhorne

    These two separate operating systems will converge. They just need to mature first, make it a natural transition, rather than a frankenstein mash-up. Such a convergence should be truly considered before even bringing it to the masses. Chrome OS needs to mature into something more popular, therefore Web apps need to become popular. Android needs the ability to scale up to large screens. Multitasking needs modifying, large screens can handle more than one program full size on a screen – at least to the point where there is a choice to move windows around. Once these things are sorted, and a design language is found within the two, this merge will be a natural move that can benefit from all the positives from either operating system.

    • BruceMcL

      @samhorne Oh yes, Chrome will definitely converge with Android. it will happen the day after Android converges with Windows XP.

  • Michael_Hazell

    I say they ditch ChromeOS for Ubuntu. Ubuntu is still a great Linux based OS and it can run Google Chrome.

  • brandonrbennett

    There is a lot of convergence that Android and ChromeOS can do without entirely changing the look and feel of either OS as it exists today.  
    The beauty of both platforms is that the way they were implemented they are ready to take on new form factors quite easy.  
    First start with build environment and general underlying OS.  Port dalvik to chrome-os (i.e compile it) and make chrome apps native on android and you are 90% of the way there.  
    You don’t have to force a touch optimized interface down a mouse and a keyboard like Windows 8 did.

  • Jordan

    Chris, the difference between ChromeOS and Android are a bit more in-depth than touch vs no-touch. Together they represent Google following down the paths of two different and directly opposing ecosystem philosophies: native apps and web apps. Android represents a platform that is primarily used for native apps, where ChromeOS is an experiment in the viability of a completely web-app dependent ecosystem.