I’ve been following the development of Google’s Chrome OS for a while now, and have played around with some of the early builds that have been floating around online. It’s well on its way to becoming a stable and usable operating system, but I’ve been getting the feeling recently that it may have been been surpassed by that other Google OS, Android. Especially since Android comes with a very good browser.
All about the browser
Chrome OS will be a browser-only OS. It will boot into Chrome and the idea is that you use online applications only. It’ll have no way to install other apps, and only very limited local storage capabilities. Aimed at netbooks and tablets, it doesn’t aim to replace your primary computer’s OS, but to offer a hassle-free way of sending out a quick email or looking up something online. This still makes all the sense in the world to me, but why not do it with Android?
Android is more versatile
Android offers the same ease of use, is just as hassle-free, and offers the Android market. Unlike Chrome OS, you can run apps on it. When I first heard that Apple’s iPad would be running iPhone OS, I thought that was a stroke of brilliance. You don’t want a full-fledged desktop OS on a secundary computer. It should boot quickly and not bother you with updates and maintenance. Just imagine booting up your HP tablet at night to check your Twitter and having it do ten minutes of Windows 7 and virus definition updates. Apple has proven that iPhone OS is exactly right for the job, and Android is simply just like it.
Android comes with a browser that like Chrome is WebKit-based. It’s fast and works really well. It can do anything you’d be able to do in Chrome OS. Both of Google’s efforts are Linux-based, and both target mobile processors (ARM, Atom). They’re more alike than you might think, except that Chrome OS isn’t done yet and has far less functionality, whereas Android is stable and in the hands of millions of customers already. Literally.
Should Google abandone Chrome OS?
If I were Google, I’d probably merge the two teams, and ask them to work on Android, with more emphasis on netbooks and tablets as a target platform. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google did this, and would choose to kill Chrome OS. Android could become more cloud oriented in future versions and incorporate much of what is Chrome OS’s philosophy.