Andromeda: Chrome OS and Android will merge
Google has been very busy adding Android to Chrome OS, and now it looks like the company will eventually release a hybrid operating system called Andromeda. Andromeda will be available on the Pixel 3.
Ron Amadeo reports for Ars Technica:
It has been almost a year since The Wall Street Journal dropped a bomb of a scoop on the Android community, saying Chrome OS would be “folded into” Android. The resulting product would reportedly bring Android to laptops and desktops. According to the paper, the internal effort to merge these two OSes had been underway for “roughly two years” (now three years) with a release planned for 2017 and an “early version” to show things off in 2016. It seems like we’re still on that schedule, and now Android Police claims to have details on the new operating system—and its first launch device—coming Q3 2017.
First up, we’ve got a host of new code names to throw at you. The hybrid OS is apparently called “Andromeda.” Besides being the name of a galaxy, it’s probably meant as a geeky portmanteau of “Android” and “Chrome.” Google also has a launch device cooking for Andromeda, which is officially codenamed “Bison”—Android Police says this is the unofficial codename of “Pixel 3.” “Pixel 3” is a reference to the “Chromebook Pixel” (Google’s flagship laptop line for Chrome OS), but since this edition isn’t running Chrome OS, you can’t really call it a “Chromebook” anymore.
We’ve seen Android and Chrome OS slowly come together in various ways recently, with Chrome OS gaining the ability to run Android apps and Android snagging Chrome OS’ dual partition update system. It’s easy to see the hybrid OS reports as an overhyped version of these products, but Android Police says Andromeda is a “completely distinct effort” from what is currently public. “Andromeda is a much larger, more ambitious initiative that is being pursued via merging Chrome features into Android not vice versa” the report says. “It would be more accurate to say Bison [AKA the Pixel 3 laptop] will run Android [rather] than Chrome OS.”
Ars Technica readers weren’t shy when sharing their opinions about Andromeda and some wondered why Google is doing it:
Belisarius: “Google: Seriously, if we just keep throwing this…at the wall, something’s got to stick, eventually. Right?”
hackRme: “Google turning 18 with a BANG!”
Mistrose: “8 years from now people will be talking about this event? Guess they’ve reverse engineered Steve Jobs reality distortion field. ”
Mousecow: “Google’s had a difficult enough time convincing developers to properly support it’s tablet ambitions. Each time a new Android tablet comes out, a new slew of reviews notes the non-existent support from most apps.
If Andromeda really is Android with the best bits of Chrome, I’m skeptical they’re going to be able to convince their developer audience to develop or retrofit their applications to take full use of the laptop-style hardware.”
Deus01: “Knowing Google they will probably build up the hype for this with a year plus until its scheduled release and then kill it before it ever sees the light of day. ”
Thebonafortuna: “Even if it’s not announced at this event, I suspect Android is moving toward a “closed source” model. Creating Andromeda to sit alongside it - while simultaneously supporting Android for another year or two - would be a very Google-like way to do that. Could solve a lot of problems (updates!) with such an approach, but leave Android out there for OEMs to use until the lack of support makes it untenable to not move to Andromeda.
Could potentially be a very smart move from Google. So I’m probably wrong about it.”
Agent888: “Can someone explain to me what the big difference is between Android on top of a Linux kernel vs a distro like Redhat? You’ll have to forgive me. I just assumed the kernel was foundation, while what’s built on top is what differs.
Just seems like there shouldn’t have to be a dramatic shift in foundation to change the user experience.”
Fatesrider: “My only question is why?
If this new OS isn’t backward compatible with every current Android device, capable of receiving (or at least manually downloading and installing) updates/upgrades in a timely manner, I completely fail to see the point to it. It otherwise fulfills absolutely no compelling need, and creates a completely pointless fork in Android to boot.
If it DOES offer better updating/security AND plays nice with current (within say, the last 3–5 years) Android devices and apps, then HURRAY!
But I don’t expect “hurray” here. It sounds like the resounding response from most folks will be “WTF?””
Solomonrex: “The Pixel 3 had better be very good, out of the box, to make up for the facepalming Google has done recently. If Andromeda works well, there’s a real chance of chromebooks growing into an Androidish tablet scene, given their usual price points and the advantages. Assuming that it keeps Chromium’s security/simplicity in some way with Android’s app support. Not exactly a no-brainer. ”
Sure: “I love the name, as a self identifying geek.
I’m trying to imagine though like, the real world equivalent of Penny from The Big Bang Theory getting psyched about “Andromeda OS" though.
It’s just kind of a mouthful and a little far to the left on the geek-non geek spectrum. If they are going for ubiquitous appeal with Pixel, then what gives?
Feels like this should have been “focus grouped" maybe? I dunno.”
Why Google is creating Andromeda from Android and Chrome OS
Many folks are wondering why Google is merging Android and Chrome OS into Andromeda. A writer at Computerworld has some interesting speculation about what might be driving the merger of these two operating systems.
JR Raphael reports for Computerworld:
What if Andromeda were essentially just a way to give Android devices a “desktop mode” – a Chrome-OS-like environment that appears when, say, a physical keyboard is present, with a more traditional Android interface remaining in place for touch-centric use? A Chrome OS-like environment wouldn’t be ideal as a core part of the regular touch-centric Android experience, after all, but it sure could be valuable as an option for scenarios involving more productivity-oriented and laptop-like use.
And what if this best-of-both-worlds, dual-purpose mentality applies not only to convertible systems but also to phones? Maybe even phones like, ahem, the new Pixel devices Google is expected to announce next week – you know, at the same event where all this Andromeda business is rumored to make its grand debut?
One could imagine that happening by way of a special dock-like accessory and/or via a less proprietary method of connection – say, a Bluetooth keyboard along with a Chromecast to beam the desktop to a display. (Of note, a new higher-end 4K-capable Chromecast is rumored to be on the docket for next week’s event.)
Such a setup could effectively turn any compatible Android device into a versatile all-purpose computer that packs the strengths of Google’s two platforms into a single superpowered package – kind of like what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10’s Continuum concept, only with the world’s most popular mobile operating system and all of its apps involved.
Will Andromeda be as open and customizable as Android?
The news about Andromeda caught the attention of folks on the Android subreddit, and they shared their thoughts about the possibility that Andromeda might not be as open as Android:
Fatl1ty93RUS: “Although this might become a new beginning for Google’s mobile (and laptop) OS’s, if the rumors are true and Google will indeed use the ChromeOS-like model for Andromeda (where the OEMs only deliver and handle the hardware, while the software is entirely in Google’s hands) - I’m kinda worried about the fact that Andromeda might become a completely walled garden and closed-source
So while we may still have something basic like launchers and icon packs - it’s unknown if we’ll be able to use something more advanced like Xposed or any of the two Theme Engines available on Android today
Are you worried about a possibility of such a scenario? Or are my fears completely in vain?”
Jnrbshp: “I would be fine if we had Android as it is, and then this semi Android OS that is more of the “walled garden” that we see from Apple. It would be a way for Google to truly control their platform.”
Bodangren2: “AOSP continues to be updated. Chromium(OS) continues to be updated. I don’t see any reason to assume that some Chromium merged with some AOSP won’t continue to be open and updated either. Sure, there may be important bits (aka the Android and Chrome parts) that are closed, but I suspect Andromeda will adopt exactly the same development model as it’s two parents. Nothing should change.”
SoylentGreenispurple: “That would kill off custom Roms. That’s a huge part of Android. I know people say its mostly for power users but I think saying that under sells what all those aftermarket ROMs do for the whole Android experience.
I’ve been thinking it also would make sense from a business standpoint to close it up. Tablets turned out to have a long life cycle closer to that of laptops. People don’t run through them like phones. So continue ally updated custom ROMs do more to dissuade people from upgrading to a new device. I bet OEMs despise that a lot. If true I wonder if Google feels the heat from them. I know I’ve been using an old as dirt tablet largely because it still has recent ROMs for it.
So yeah that’s a big factor that’s crossed my mind when I read about Andromeda.”
Jeperbj: “I would welcome it if it means reliable updates for everyone.”
Philsophermk: “Andromeda is probably Android optimised for desktop use, desktop ui,desktop Chrome browser, right click optimisation.
I can totally see Andromeda being the same on every laptop and tablet, like Chrome os. And it makes sense because it’s aimed to be desktop os, you don’t want Linux distributions mess on Android. On phones I think nothing will change.
Oh,and I am sure things like exposed will be available for people that want to customise stuff.”
Eeshoo: “I know Android can be customised and stuff but I don’t do that all that much. I use it stock but I prefer Android because of the Google services integration. I love the Google ecosystem and Androids make proper use of it. If Andromeda is going to offer a better integration of Google services I’m all for it!”
Reddstudent: “On the one hand, it’s really cool that Android is open source. That has allowed her to take on form factors, looks and feels unexpected during its inception and driven by third-party OEMs. It also allows every sophisticated researcher in the world with time on their hands to review the source code in Hackaway at it security in a distributed fashion.
Do you open source enthusiasts use Android for similar reasons as the Linux? Not if they’re the ones concerned about privacy as a key factor.
Would Andromeda Killing Android boost things like Ubuntu or Firefox on mobile? Maybe, and having those operating systems available to flash on an Andromeda device would be pretty neat.
How would the average person feel about using Google direct software without the influence of Samsung on the software of some future galaxy product? How would you feel? Personally, I’d be ecstatic if Google forced direct Google software into basically every new Google operating system device.
At the end of the day, it’s still going to be a very cleanly implemented modern POSIX style operating system. One that will run incredibly clean and smooth, ensuring super tight security through not only software updates but really well-thought-out design decisions from the bottom up. We’re really not talking about Microsoft style clothes source paradigms, but probably more in line with what we already see from Chromebooks and the Nexus line or even Apple’s products. Clean, modern, secure, performant and based on POSIX paradigms.”
Lactozorg: “What I worry about is that Andromeda will be an unoptimized system like Android, where apart from Google nobody manages to to get it to run smoothly and even then only on very powerful hardware.
I had an Android tablet for a long time, now I own a cheap Windows tablet with arguably even weaker hardware but it performs so much better in general its not even funny. Sure, apps lake longer to open and sites take longer to load, but scrolling is smooth everywhere.”
Justeducation: “Google should get the update thing right with Andromeda so that they can push through updates regardless of the carriers and OEMs’ protests. Like what you see on Chrome OS devices.
Only question is will OEMs build Andromeda phones and will carriers promote them? After all we can still smell the rotting corpse of Windows 10 Phone.”
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