Late last night, in the wake of yesterday's WSJ's report of a Chrome OS/Android merger to be complete by 2017, Google pushed back with firm commitment to the platform. Hiroshi Lockheimer, Sundar Pichai's new head of Android and Chrome OS, tweeted his support for the platform's "momentum".
Reporting his analysis following the tweet, Ars Technica writer Ron Amadeo offered additional insight into the charade:
"Google can't have the public think that Chrome OS will be spending the next two years on death row. It has Chromebooks to sell, and customers won't invest in Chrome OS hardware if they think it's a dying platform. So even if Chrome OS were on the way out, good business sense says that Google would have to be "committed" to the platform until it has something new to take its place."
Of course Google is going to put its full backing behind the platform! By taking action and merging it with Android, it is doing just that. Giving Chrome OS validation enough to add its features into Android means it believes fully in the future of the platform's ideals.
The craziest part is what many analysts aren't saying: the transformation is already taking place right under our noses. Android already included Chrome as a centralized part of the Android experience by placing Chrome browser tabs in the multi-tasking switcher. This was done in order to place emphasis on the importance of the functional web. In contrast, Chrome OS and the Chrome browser have added support for running Android applications natively using the ARC Welder.
Android is receiving more of Chrome OS's core ideas than Chrome OS is receiving from Android. For example, everything you do on your Android device is already saved in the cloud (Google Photos, Hangouts, etc). An Android phone or tablet can already be replaced and restored to the previous glory of its lost, damaged or stolen predecessor simply by signing in to Google. Not all Android hardware may receive the latest and greatest Android operating system release, but the centralized Google Service Framework still consistently goes out to everyone in the same way as a Chrome OS or Chrome browser update. No one even knows the update happens. Heck, Google doesn't even install their gaggle of apps by default anymore. Every Google services app is installable after setup, so only what you want or use it installed at setup, just like a Chrome OS machine.
Google's two platforms are already very compatible when it comes to using the powers of the other, but combined, all the best features will be made clear (just ask the Pixel C team). The zero barrier of entry nature of Chrome OS will enable everything you do on your phone, down to every text you send (Google Hangouts and Google Voice) to be saved to the cloud, while also having the option to run on any form factor or screen size. Why do you think we haven't seen multi-windowing as a core feature of the Android Open Source Project? Because Google is waiting for app developers to adopt Material Design for phones, tablets, laptops AND TVs.
App developers will simply have to decide whether to use their web applications or native Android applications. For all we know, a new language is coming to usher in a new paradigm where native applications and web applications mix into one package on one native powered and cloud enhanced runtime. The rumors suggest we will see the next chapter of this story at Google I/O 2016, we just have to wait and see.