Some rumors simply refuse to go away as there is a lot of talk about the merging of Android and Chrome OS again. Remember about a year ago the Wall Street Journal broke a story on this topic.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google plans to fold its Chrome operating system for personal computers into its Android mobile operating system, according to people familiar with the matter, a sign of the growing dominance of mobile computing.
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.
On the 4th of September of this year, Android Police resurrected the rumor with the following post.
Two independent and reliable sources have confirmed to us that Google is planning a new Pixel laptop to be released in Q3 2017. The project, known internally as ‘Bison’ and by the informal nickname ‘Pixel 3,’ will likely be the first brand-new device to showcase Google’s combined Android / Chrome OS ‘Andromeda’ operating system in a laptop form factor. Bison, then, would be the culmination of years of work by Google’s Pixel team and Google’s Android and Chrome OS teams.
We are extremely confident Google plans for the device to run Andromeda. We are also confident that Andromeda is a completely distinct effort from Google’s current campaign to bring Android apps to Chromebooks, and that Bison would not be marketed as a Chromebook. Android apps on Chrome OS descended from the ARC project, while Andromeda is a much larger, more ambitious initiative that is being pursued via merging Chrome features into Android, not vice versa. As such, it would be more accurate to say Bison will run Android than Chrome OS, and could finally be Google’s internal commitment to releasing Andromeda.
9 to 5 Google added fuel to the fire by running an exclusive on September 26th stating the following.
We’ve learned from multiple sources that Google plans to launch its forthcoming Andromeda Android/Chrome OS hybrid OS on two devices: a Huawei Nexus tablet and a “convertible laptop”. The latter device was just reported on by Android Police, and we can independently confirm that this device is planned. Our sources say, however, that a Huawei Nexus — yes, a Nexus — is also planned.
The speculation is HTC will be the vendor of the Nexus 7 successor due to branding issues with Huawei, it is scheduled for release in 2017, and it will run Andromeda OS.
Why Merge Chrome OS and Android?
The short answer is Google customers want the entire Google experience available regardless of the device they are using. Evidence for this is the very positive reaction to the addition of Android Apps to Chrome OS.
The practical answer is there is a synergy in creating a best-of-breed from Chrome OS and Android. If Chrome OS performs some functions better than Android it makes perfect sense to add them to Android. For example, it is rumored Android N leverages some Chrome OS code in the way updates are applied.
However, there may be other pressures at play.
One of Microsoft’s big announcements at its Build developers conference was the ability to turn a smartphone running Windows 10 into a PC. Dubbed Continuum for Phones, it’s designed to take advantage of new universal apps that run Windows 10 on phones, PCs, tablets, and the Xbox One. If you’re running a mobile version of Excel on your phone it will automatically resize and transform into a keyboard and mouse-friendly version for use on a bigger screen.
“We actually envision a world where the phone powers many more screens and experiences, where every screen can become a PC,” says Keri Moran, a Windows program manager at Microsoft.
Dell/Intel Secret Project Stack
A couple of years ago Dell and Intel joined forces to create an ambitious product known internally as the Dell Stack. The project centers on a 6.4-inch, full-HD mini-tablet providing the foundation for the desktop, laptop, and tablet experiences. One device would power your entire computing ecosystem. Therefore, the Stack handheld was fitted with an Intel Kaby Lake Y-series low-powered, dual-core, laptop-class processor.
The project went silent and many thought it was grounded but a tweet from Evan Blass questions this fact.
Nokia Power User reported the following on November 19th.
The project centers on a 6.4-inch, full-HD mini-tablet that would underlie the desktop, laptop, and tablet experiences: That is, one device would power your entire computing ecosystem.
Therefore, the Stack handheld was spec’ed out with an x86-based CPU from Intel’s Kaby Lake Y-series of low-power-consumption, dual-core, laptop-class processors. Specifically, the built-to-order system would be available with options from the m3, m5 vPro, or m7 vPro families.
As a tablet, the handheld would require a 3.5-watt power draw, but when docked as the heart of a desktop-replacement configuration, it would transition to a less-conservative 12 watts. Furthermore, it would be available in several memory configurations: either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB of internal solid state storage (supplemented by a microSD removable storage slot). Its main and front-facing cameras were initially envisioned as eight and five megapixels, respectively, with the latter to be paired with a biometric-enabling iris scanner.
The entire device was targeted to be under nine millimeters in thickness, putting it in the same league as many smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, a second generation was also on the drawing board, with an even more ambitious configuration: It would be a six-inch phablet with full telephony capabilities — a true x86 smartphone.
In many ways, Google is already there as Google apps run across multiple devices.
But image this if you will; connecting your Pixel phone or tablet to a USB C cable attached to a flat screen TV or computer monitor and Andromeda OS desktop version magically appears. Use your phone for point and click or a wireless mouse and keyboard. Flip your 2-in-1 Chromebook to tablet mode and the interface and functionality become exactly the same as your tablet.
Canonical demonstrated this works under Linux using an ARM SoC.
Different devices, the same user experience, the vision of Andromeda OS.