Chrome and Android! What merging are we talking about?



The recently announced news of Andy Rubin making way for Sundar Pichai has everybody speculating the merging of two of Google's OSes Chrome and Android, now that both are under one boss - Sundar (beautiful). However, what I fail to understand is what do they mean by this merging.

Chrome and Android have already merged

When? At the time when Google released Chrome Browser for Android. On an Android tablet, you can use Android Applications and Chrome Browser.

So, what's left to merge? Let's first understand what is ChromeOS and Android OS in a rather simplistic manner.

ChromeOS = Linux Kernel + UI Manager + Chrome. Currently, more suited for desktop/mouse interfaces.

AndroidOS = Linux Kernel + UI Manager + Apps. Currently, more suited for touch interfaces.

The Linux Kernel is the same. UI Manager for one is more powerful (with more API) than the other.

So, if you wanted to merge Android into ChromeOS, you would make COS's UI Manager more powerful so that it can run more than just Chrome. But that would essentially still be Android. What would you achieve? Android for desktop/mouse interface?

Boot to Chrome

At best you could have a Boot to Chrome kind of feature in Android tablets/devices and that would seem like a good integration. This would seem useful because traditional OSes take ages to boot up, while ChromeOS can do so much faster, almost instantaneously. However, with always ON devices like phones and tablets, this isn't something very useful.

Real Merger: Services

The real merger that could happen is in terms of services. Services that originate on platform, could make way into the other platform (faster). Best example is Google Now, a great feature that originated on Android with JellyBean. Now. there are indications that it would be made available from within Chrome.

Google could really build a unified experience for its services across platforms, the ones it can control (Android and Chrome) and even on the ones it can't (iOS and Windows)

The Apple angle

How can you talk about Google and not mention Apple anywhere? By the way, we are seeing a unification at Apple too. One guy leading the development of iOS, Mac OS X and Apple's common operating system engineering teams.