Opinion

Why Google Should Merge Chrome OS and Android

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Why Google Should Merge Chrome OS and Android

Google has said that it is committed to Chrome OS - and has no plans to "kill it" - but perhaps a convergence should be on the cards.

Both the operating systems as standalone services have great potential, but also limitations of their own. The union of two, at least on paper, could produce a result that is more powerful and feature rich than the individual constituents.

The Chromebook, powered by Chrome OS, is a handy productivity machine. But it severely lacks applications. It used be just a Chrome Web browser centric-operating system. Over the years, the company has added several features to it such as the offline media playback, and ported a handful of Android apps. The convergence with Android would essentially get Chromebook users a plethora of apps.

On the other hand, Android is the most used mobile operating system and has hundreds of thousands of mobile apps. But as soon as you put Android on a large screen device, the experience becomes terrible. As we have seen in a number of Android tablets reviews, the vast majority of apps seem to be just a blown-up versions of their mobile counterpart, offering a sub-par experience. This is particularly the case when you're running productivity apps. Whether it's Google's Docs and Sheets, or Microsoft's Word and PowerPoint, the experience is just not good enough.

If Google manages to converge the two operating system right, the resultant could significantly bolster productivity experience. Android could get more PC-like features such as multitasking; yes, you can already multitask on Android, and even have multiple windows on the same screen, but the experience could stand to become better.

Microsoft, albeit after multiple attempts, showed the world how tablets can indeed be productivity devices, by putting a full-fledged operating system and desktop-class applications on its Surface tablet. Apple's iPad Pro also addresses the gap between laptops and tablets. It's a segment of the market that's getting a lot of attention right now, and if Google wants to aim for this segment then it really needs to sort the mess that is Android apps for large screens.

Microsoft is still struggling to attract developers to port their desktop apps to mobile. Google's approach should be in the opposite direction. Google's Android platform is enticing and lucrative for developers, which puts it in a better position to achieve that feat than Microsoft.

Considering the penetration of Android in the low-tier market, universal apps is another area in which the fusion of Chrome OS and Android makes sense. By bringing the two ecosystems together, Google will be able to offer computing devices for everyone - from mobiles in your pocket, to tablets that you actually want to use. So maybe it's time Google has a rethink about killing Chrome, and brings us the best version of Android for all devices.

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