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