Google has new hardware to debut at its October 4th event, but as we’ve learned recently the most important part of the event may not lie in hardware, but in software. We now know that Google’s long-rumored Android/Chrome OS hybrid operating system is internally called “Andromeda,” but we’ve been doing some digging of our own over the last couple of days to see if we could learn more.
We don’t know if it will ever formally come to the almost two-year-old tablet, but we’ve heard that Google is testing the yet-to-be announced hybrid OS on the HTC-made Nexus 9…
Nomad case for Pixel 3
More than just hearsay, however, we’ve also found evidence of this in the Android 7.0 Nougat AOSP. First, we’ve found the file “SurfaceCompositionTest.java“, which by our understanding is “a set of low-level tests to measure graphics performance.” The test directly references “Andromeda” multiple times, including that “Andromeda devices require higher performance score.”
According to the tool, the minimum score (all we know is that these scores generally refer to a device’s graphics performance) needed for Andromeda is an 8.0. By comparison, Android seemingly requires at least a 4.0. One of the more notable aspects of this specific test is that it was performed on the Nexus 9 which scores “around 8.8,” a score just barely surpassing Google’s minimum requirements.
Another page of the AOSP mentions a “flushed Nexus 9 device using volantis and volantis-andromeda images”, but to be completely honest we don’t know what that means. Feel free to enlighten us in the comments.
Flushed Nexus 9 device using volantis and volantis-andromeda images and confirmed that corresponding threshold is used for each image.
Why so many mentions of Nexus 9 specifically in tandem with Andromeda? We asked the same question, and from what we can gather, Google is testing the Chrome OS/Android hybrid on the tablet. An anonymous source has told us of users running early builds of Andromeda on the Nexus 9, but we have not been able to obtain direct confirmation from those users. Why would Google be testing Andromeda on the Nexus 9? We don’t know.
But we do know that Andromeda is aimed at making Android better suited for devices like laptops, as well as 2-in-1s (like the unfortunately mediocre Pixel C) and perhaps tablets. Another interesting tidbit to note: it seems that the hidden free form window management feature that popped up in Nougat (but isn’t user-facing) could appropriately see its debut with Andromeda. “SurfaceCompositionMeasuringActivity.java” mentions “Detect Andromeda devices by having free-form window management feature.”
Update 9/26: We can now further confirm that Google is indeed testing Andromeda on the Nexus 9, and one source claims this is “because of hardware constraints and availability.” We also have confirmation that Google will not be launching Andromeda on the Nexus 9 publicly.
Stephen Hall and Abner Li contributed to this report.