This one has been a long time coming.
According to a report this afternoon from The Wall Street Journal, Google is — finally? is this worth a finally? — planning to fold its Chrome desktop OS into Android. The new, single operating system will be unveiled sometime in 2017 according to people familiar with the matter, but the Mountain View company reportedly has plans to show off an “early version” as soon as next year…
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The report refers to the new OS as a “new version of Android,” suggesting that Chrome OS as we know it will be replaced for all intents and purposes by Google’s mobile OS. It will indeed “run on PCs,” of course, meaning that developers’ already-made apps will soon become available on a wider array of devices. This is a win for Google and developers alike, as the former would obviously love to push the money-making Play Store to more devices, and the latter would love to be able to reach more potential customers.
And this will also mean, in turn, that the term “Chromebook” will be fading into obscurity as future laptops will no longer run Chrome OS, the report notes. Google does, however, plan to retain the name “Chrome” for its browser.
WSJ’s Alistair Barr has it:
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.
Notably, this move isn’t exactly a surprising one. Rumors and speculation surrounding the eventual convergence of the two operating systems have been swirling for quite some time, and many assumed that if one of the two OS’s would “win out,” Android was the obvious choice. The launch of the Pixel C tablet/Chromebook hybrid was even further evidence of this, suggesting that Google was ready to move on.
As someone who would never want to use the current build of Marshmallow in a productivity setting, I hope that one of two things happens with this: (1) Google decides to go with a fork of Android for the desktop version (a la Android Auto or Android Wear, but less likely), or (2) Google makes Android much more productivity friendly with way better multitasking and performance (which I think is the ideal and more likely option because non-desktop Android needs improvement here anyway).