Oh, Chrome OS - we hardly knew ye.
The operating system powering Chromebook laptops is about to be killed, according to The Wall Street Journal. But that doesn't mean Google is giving up on Chromebooks altogether; on the contrary, it plans to fold Chrome OS into Android, the operating system it designs for mobile devices.
This isn't some last-minute decision. Engineers at the Mountain View-based company have been trying to combine the two operating systems over the last two years and only recently made progress. Google is hoping to unveil a single, unified operating system by 2017, though we can expect to see an early version previewed next year. The new OS will provide access to Play Store.
That last bit is key, because Android is the most popular OS in the world, powering more than 1 billion mobile devices, whereas Chrome OS primarily powers Chromebooks, a budget-friendly line that only accounts for less than 3 per cent of the PC market, according to research firm IDC. It's inability to grow thus far is most apparent when trying to find an app to download.
Despite coming out in 2011, Chrome OS only has a niche selection of apps available to download from the Chrome Web Store. It's therefore not the platform to go with if you're a power user or someone who needs full-fledged, robust apps on a regular basis. For instance, although Adobe promised in 2014 to bring a streaming version of Photoshop to Chrome OS, it has yet to do so.
Chrome OS supposedly offers "thousands of apps" via its web store, but Google Play Store has more than 1 million apps. Google therefore likely figures it should scrap Chrome OS and build a new system based on Android that works with Play Store, making it easier - and more enticing - for developers to create apps specifcally for Chromebooks, which are slated to get the new OS.
Keep in mind Google unveiled the Pixel C in September, and it runs Android. It is actually the first Anroid tablet to carry the Pixel name, which has so far been limited to Chromebook laptops running Chrome OS. Also, Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, told analysts on a call last week that “mobile as a computing paradigm is eventually going to blend with what we think of as desktop today.”
So, it looks like this is actually happening. Nevertheless, Google plans to keep the Chrome name for its browser.