Google is reportedly to “fold” Chrome OS into the Android system and drop the distinction between mobile devices and full-blown computers.
The Wall Street Journal quoted “people familiar with the matter” as saying work to merge the two systems has been underway for two years, a demo version is expected next year, and a finished unified operating system will debut in 2017.
The reported logic is that the growing use of both mobile devices and apps has meant Android has outperformed Chrome OS, something Google hadn’t confidently predicted.
According to the WSJ, the theory now is that a unified system could bring Android to laptops, expand its userbase, and give more incentive to app developers to target the system. That’s the logic Microsoft applied to its decision to effectively merge Windows Mobile/Phone and the desktop operating systems in Windows 10.
The detailed report also said Google will continue maintaining Chrome OS as an open source system so that other companies can use it to make laptops if they wish. However, the Chromebook laptop range will get a rebrand.
Some media sources are now citing Google as having denied the WSJ report, though it’s not quite that clear-cut. The company has not issued any statement directly and overtly addressing the claims.
Instead Hiroshi Lockheimer, who is Google head for both Android and Chrome OS, just so happened to tweet today to say “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!”
On closer reading, that doesn’t directly contradict the WSJ report. After all, being “very committed” to Chrome OS could certainly describe the idea of continuing to maintain the code even after Google itself is no longer using it for hardware.