A debate has waged since Chrome OS started appearing on Chromebooks. It can be summed up as: This is nice Google, but why don't you combine it with Android? Well, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, it looks like Google is getting ready to do just that.
Chrome OS will fold into Android. Android will better adapt to PCs. By 2017, the two will form a single, new operating system with access to the Play Store. Google reportedly plans to show off an early version sometime next year.
As The Wall Street Journal says, reason to anticipate such a shift has flowed out over the years. Sundar Pichai was put in charge of both Android and Chrome OS back in 2013. If that was reason to believe the two would grow closer together back then, consider that the same man has since gained more sway as the CEO of Alphabet's Google. Hiroshi Lockheimer, previously vice president of engineering for just Android, gained a leadership role for Chrome as well, signalling Google's continued interest in the two platforms growing more cohesive.
On the product side, consider the Pixel C. Previously a representation of the best way to experience Chrome OS, the latest Pixel device will provide a premium Android experience instead.
Speculation has existed for years, but this report from The Wall Street Journal comes to us as news, not as an editorial. Still, nothing is set in stone until it happens. Until then, I'm still writing this post from a Chromebook, and you're probably reading it on an Android phone.
Maybe just Android for laptops?
Re/code is now reporting that Google's actual plan is to start making a version of Android optimized for laptops. Chrome OS and Android would not "merge" after all. Instead, Chromebooks would continue to exist, but Android Laptops would be an option too. We've asked Google for comment.
Google responds, sort of
Google linked to Hiroshi Lockheimer's tweet as a response, which is weird.
There’s a ton of momentum for Chromebooks and we are very committed to Chrome OS. I just bought two for my kids for schoolwork!
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) October 30, 2015
Google responds, for real
And it says, without naming names, that The Wall Street Journal is wrong on this one.
- The Wall Street Journal