Mobility

Is Google planning a Chrome OS/Android merge?

Would Google Dare merge Chrome OS and Android? Jack Wallen offers up seven reasons why this would be a mistake.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Over the weekend, some rather interesting news spread about the inter-verse. That news was of Google OS's demise. That's right...it was heard 'round the world by nearly every news outlet I could find. Funny thing about that bit 'o news...I couldn't verify a single claim. And so, I reached out to Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Chrome OS, to find out some truth.

Interestingly enough, he did not reply for comment.

He did, however, post this to Twitter:

"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!"

That does not, in any way, give any clarity on the issue. Not when so many are positing that Google plans on rolling Chrome OS and Android together to create a hybrid mobile platform. Of course Google is committed to Chrome OS. But are they committed to a pure platform or one of mixed metaphor?

So instead of spending words on guessing, I thought I'd lay out a few reasons why Chrome OS needs to remain intact. Google, if you're listening, pay attention.

It's all been done

An Android laptop has been tried and it failed. Remember, HPs Slatebook? Probably not because it failed miserably. You can still buy one (from Amazon) if you like. It runs an outdated version of Android 4.3 and most likely will never get upgraded. Why? Because dismal lack of sales and rampant problems with the devices doesn't warrant HP doing any work to improve the failing laptop.

School systems

I read through countless comments on these pieces regarding the demise of Chrome OS. I couldn't believe the vast number of educators chiming in to say how successful the Chrome OS platform has been for their school systems. One educator claimed they'd deployed over 5,000 chromebooks and haven't had a single issue yet. That's impressive. Not one other platform could possibly lay claim to that.

Windows is no replacement

Some pundits chimed in to say this was the logical thing to do now that Microsoft has given unto us a cheap Windows laptop. Let me make this clear: There is no way the Windows platform can achieve what Chrome OS has done. Not only the massive sales that have risen so quickly, but the simplicity and reliability. All of those cheap Windows laptops...how long do you honestly think they will last? How long before a user has installed too many applications or infected the machine with malware or viruses? Thanks to the vulnerabilities of the Windows platform, that $200.00 USD laptop will inevitably wind up at a local PC support shop to rid it of nefarious doings. Go on...half your fun and double the cost. With Chrome OS...this doesn't happen. And to make matters worse for that cheap Windows laptop, it will eventually start slowing down and running like it's on its last legs.

Chrome is about productivity

I've been using a Chromebook for nearly two years. As a writer (one who uses Google Docs for all first drafts), it's a boon to productivity. Yes, I can still get my distraction on with countless web sites, but I can also get incredibly productive. This is the single most impressive instance of an OS not getting in the way of your work. Period. End of story. But don't misunderstand Chrome OS...it's not just a web browser. You can add apps...apps that extend the productivity of the device.

It's all about the web

The majority of what the majority of people do today is done within a web browser. Even email clients are a dying breed. Now that we've mostly moved to the web, it makes perfect sense that a web-based platform exist. Chrome OS is the one and only web-centric platform for the masses.

It's schmuck proof

You'd be hard-pressed to break Chrome OS. Unless you know how to get to the command line, it's not an easy feat. I've put a number of Chromebooks through paces that would bring other platforms to their knees. Simply put, Chrome OS is the ideal operating system for the average user. Adding Android into the mix would only muddy some of the clearest waters on the market. On top of that, the Chromebook you purchased today, will run exactly the same in a year, in two years, in three years. If you sense it slowing down at all (which it won't), you can easily powerwash it, log back into your Google account, and everything is back to perfect (without incurring any cost from a support shop).

The need for speed

Android is a great platform. Of that, there is no question. Chrome OS is an equally great platform that has one thing going for it no other platform can match. Speed. Every Chromebook I have (be they the low end Acer c720 or the high end Pixel) outruns every other desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone I have. Consider the boot time for a Chromebook vs. the boot time for a Nexus 6.

  • Acer c720: 4 seconds
  • Nexus 6: 65 seconds

Now that may be fine and good to have an Android device that requires over a minute to boot. Why? Because most people leave those devices on all the time. But imagine having to take that much time waiting for a laptop to boot up...especially when you're on the go! As good as Android is, it cannot match the speed of Chrome OS. Don't feel bad, Android...no other platform can.

If you're not convinced by now that Chrome OS should carry on existing separate from Android, then I would suggest you might need to actually experience a Chromebook first hand. Chrome OS isn't perfect (no platform is), but it is perfectly simple and perfectly reliable in ways Windows, Mac, and even Linux cannot match.

What's your take on Chrome OS? Should it merge with Android to become one platform? Or should Chrome OS remain its own entity?

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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