Google reportedly merging Chrome OS and Android

Google is to integrate its Chrome operating system into the Android mobile operating system in a bid to create unification and continuity across all computing devices.

Google engineers have been working on the project for two years, according to the Wall Street Journal. and an early version of the single operating system will be unveiled in 2016, with the full rollout in 2017.

Though Android is on a billion mobile devices, the two operating systems are on less than 3% of PCs according to research firm IDC. With maintenance of the two systems no longer sustainable, Google is concentrating efforts in a bid to encourage developers to work with its operating systems, by creating a single system that gives developers a much wider gadget market to address. The new version of Android will also give PC users access to Google’s Play store, which offers more than one million apps.

Chrome will remain as an open source operating system that other companies can use to make laptops and Google engineers will continue to maintain it but Google will concentrate on extending Android to run on laptops.

“Mobile as a computing paradigm is eventually going to blend with what we think of as desktop today,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai told analysts.

However, one developer said Chrome and Android’s shared Linux heritage won’t necessarily make the blending of the operating systems easy, since one caters for large screens that can run multiple apps simultaneously, while the other is monolithic and unable to share content between apps. These fundamental differences may be different to rationalise. However, the rationalisation may make some sense for the mobile developers who want to address laptops, said Alex Davis, an Alex Davis, an engineering manager who works on app development at Airbnb.

However, Google could win more enterprise business if its productivity apps, such as Docs and Sheets, ran seamlessly across different devices. As enterprise worker conduct more of their business on smartphones and tablets, creating continuity between software and documents between devices and PCs will be critical.

“Right now we don’t have strong interest in developing for Chrome OS. The market size is relatively small,” said Davis, “this is probably the right move for Google as so many people are used to using Android.”

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