Looks like Google might be working on a tablet that runs Chrome OS. Or at the very least, Chromium.
Now, we don’t have much to go on here. There’s been a lot of rumors and heresy bouncing about on the web about this. Ever since the Chromebooks first hit the market, folks have been buzzing about the possibility of tablets, pointing at this move by Google or that action by the Chrome Team. And while it’s true that there is some evidence that points to the eventual development of a Chrome OS tablet…we might not be seeing one for a very, very long time.
And in the event that we do eventually see one, it might not necessarily run Chrome. In all likelihood, It’s going to run Chromium; the closest we can get to Chrome without actually running Chrome. This seems especially likely; in light of what Senior VP Sundar Pichai said on the matter:
Chrome OS is a computer model designed with various form factors in mind but we are entirely focused on the notebook form factor for now. We have no other plans at this time.
Of course, there’s the fact that Google’s actually released a prerendered video of what a Chrome tablet might look like, and that they’ve reportedly been working on a Touch UI…From here, it seems like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing, to turn a phrase. Plus, Pichai’s statement was made two months ago…and things change.
Chrome On A Tablet
Earlier today, eminent Google Geek Francois Beaufort did a bit of speculating of his own. “This morning,” he posted on Google + August 5; “I was wondering if Google Chrome Team worked a little bit more on the Touch UI during my holidays. Answer is not so much sadly. However, I made a silent screencast for you guys.” He then proceeds to link what appears to be a demo of Chromium running the touch UI, seen above. It actually looks pretty impressive.
The soft keyboard seems responsive and looks good; the autocomplete function seems to work pretty well, and I certainly like the look of the home screen. On the other hand, the wrench menu seems to ‘bleed’ off the bottom of the screen a bit- not sure if that’s a result of the video capture software, or an issue with the build- either way, it looks a little bit sloppy to me. Other than that…it’s pretty much Chromium. And that’s a good thing.
In any case, Beaufort’s video looks good, but definitely speaks volumes about the stage this build is in- it won’t be hitting the market for a long while yet- particularly since it’s fairly clear that the ‘touch’ portion of the interface isn’t quite up and running yet. Hey, it’s something to look forward to, right?
Personally, I think Chrome would make a rather excellent tablet OS. I was a little bummed when Pichai announced that they wouldn’t be manufacturing a Chrome tablet in the foreseeable future- but not particularly surprised. See, I can think of a pretty likely reason why Google’s not yet introduced a Chrome tablet relates at least marginally to their currently dominant platform, and its name is Android. It’s a pretty dominant force in the mobile market, and releasing Chrome OS as a potential competitor to Android…might run somewhat counter to Google’s recent efforts at consolidating their products.
Right now, some of their holdings include Chrome for web browsing, Google + for social media, Android for mobile platforms and Chrome OS for…well, Chromebooks. Releasing their OS onto a new platform could end up being something of a fragmentary move, and I’m not certain it’s something Google really wants to commit to.
Chromium and Chrome aren't really the same thing, after all.
Still, if they’re not planning a tablet release of Chrome, why would they be working on a touch UI? Could there be a Chromebook in the future that features a touchscreen, or could they really have pulled a 180 on their ‘netbook only’ stance for Chrome? Then again, it’s Chromium we’re talking about here, so there’s a good chance the folks who are working on the touch UI could be working at least somewhat independently of Google.
Open source, and all that.
So what do you guys think? Could Google have a Chrome OS tablet in the works? Will the video linked by Beaufort end up being part of an official Google product, or will it remain part of Chromium- simply an open-source project that could be installed on a tablet?
There are quite a few questions, and definitely not enough answers for my taste.
Image Credits: Good E Reader,