Google plans to merge Chrome OS and Android

In today's open source roundup: Android and Chrome OS will be combined by Google. Plus: The Linux version of Batman Arkham Knight delayed. And Linux helps educate Australian prisoners behind bars

Google plans to merge Chrome OS and Android

Chromebooks have been wildly popular on Amazon. But what will happen to them if Google merges Chrome OS and Android? Rumors have been circulating for quite some time that Google would someday combine Chrome OS and Android, and now it looks like that might happen sooner than anybody expected.

A new report indicates that the merge of the two mobile operating systems may happen by 2017.

SJVN reports for ZDNet:

This move make a great deal of sense. Android and Chrome OS are Linux-based operating systems, which support apps in different ways but share the same foundation. Android forms its own distribution family, while Chrome OS is based on Gentoo Linux.

Both have their own strengths they could bring to a merged smartphone, tablet, and desktop operating system. Android, which runs on more than a billion devices, is the single most popular end-user operating system, with more than 1.6 million apps. Chrome OS has shown that Web-based apps are sufficient enough for many desktop users. In addition, Android is plagued with multiple versions that are very difficult to upgrade.

Another source said that it makes sense now to explore with mobile devices becoming the primary device. There are opportunities to provide an open platform for both mobile and desktop. This is already happening. Examples of this direction include Chromecast running on a version of Android and the new Pixel C Android tablet.

Alas, while the marriage license may be signed, the actual release date is still over a year in the future. The Journal reports that the combined "Android Chrome OS" won't ship until 2017.

More at ZDNet

Chrome OS redditors reacted to the news in a long discussion thread:

Kzahel: ”My guess is that it's more of the opposite. Android runtime support is being rolled into ChromeOS. And ChromeOS is rebranded as "android". And the Chrome platform APIs become more and more robust. (and get renamed to "alphabet" or "android" API or some such)”

Lutherinbmore: ”All I can say is that they better keep the ChromeOS security model and avoid the bloat of Android (esp. as far as it impacts boot times). And it better present a Desktop-like windowing system when a keyboard is attached. ”

Donny: ”I just don't get how they can merge them seeing they are totally opposing directions to doing an OS. Without the chrome OS update and security model, most of the advantages go away.”

Supes1: ”I love my Chromebook, and certainly don't want it to be "replaced" by Android (especially since Android was not designed with desktops in mind). But I'd be okay with it if they could really manage to incorporate the best of both worlds.

What worries me the most is how unwieldy Android has become. I really hope they can slim it down dramatically so it doesn't impact the speed and simplicity of ChromeOS.”

DigChrono: ”At the risk of sounding like an /r/Android[1] fanboy, a lot of the unwieldiness comes from manufacturers adding their own bloat to Android. Nexus phones have a reputation for being very fast and smooth, because they run pure Android. Plus, with the improvements said to have come in Marshmallow, I can see Android improving a lot.”

Baseballandfreedom: ”Google can't be happy about this being leaked. If you were a school or business currently considering moving to ChromeOS, this rumor pretty much kills any future consideration. No school or business wants to invest in an operating system that may be totally different, or even gone, in two years.”

VictoryGoth: ”I understand that technically Google isn't "killing" Chrome OS, but if they combine both OS' and continue to call the merged OS Android, then... they're still basically getting rid of Chrome OS. I hope they also drop the Android brand and create a newly-named Google OS. That way, it won't seem like "The More Useful Android" won over "The Useless Chrome OS". (Plus, Googlebook sounds better than Androidbook).

However, the way the articles about the merge are wording things, it seems most likely that they're keeping the Android name. The term "folding Android into Chrome OS" merely sounds like a nicer way of saying, "We're getting rid of Chrome OS in favor of Android."”

Jathak: ”If Google can truly combine the best of both Android and Chrome OS, and we get the benefits of native Android apps and the Play Store alongside a full desktop version of Chrome that starts up in seconds and continues to provide the best web browsing experience available on a computer, then this news could be great.”

Privateidaho: ”...the main thing I would worry about is which version of Chrome will be available on the (former) Chromebooks. ChromeOS has a huge advantage over iOS / Android by offering the full desktop version of the browser, which is much more capable than the mobile browsers. Proper multitasking, background audio without a hitch, extensions, tweakability, etc.”

Hans: ”...I think this is a great thing. Chrome OS is great, but it's a bit boring if you're looking for lots of cool new features regularly as in other platforms. Looking forward to the Play Store on my chromebook.”

More at Reddit

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