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Chrome OS rumored to be folded into Android as early as 2017

Android statue
Android statue (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Google is apparently planning to fold Chrome OS and Android into one operating system. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has been working on such a project for a couple of years now, with plans to pull the trigger sometime in 2017:

Alphabet Inc.'s Google plans to fold its Chrome operating system for personal computers into its Android mobile-operating system, according to people familiar with the matter, a sign of the growing dominance of mobile computing.Google engineers have been working for roughly two years to combine the operating systems and have made progress recently, two of the people said. The company plans to unveil its new, single operating system in 2017, but expects to show off an early version next year, one of the people said.

According to the report, this combined version of Chrome OS and Android will apparently also run on PCs, allowing Google to expand Google Play and its other properties even further. However, it's unclear if the report is referring to PCs that currently run Windows or OS X, or desktops and laptops currently running Chrome OS. As for Chromebooks, the report says they will receive a new, as of yet undetermined name. The Chrome browser will also retain its name as well.

More: Considering the possibility of an Android-only device future

Going by the timeline in the report, it sounds as if Google CEO Sundar Pichai may have started the initiative after adding Android to his management responsibilities in 2013. For some background, Pichai joined Google in 2004, leading the development of the Chrome browser and Chrome OS (first released in 2008 and 2009, respectively). In March 2013 he added Android to his management responsibilities, taking over for Android founder Andy Rubin. Just two months ago he took over as CEO of Google, following the creation of Alphabet.

Update: Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer has sent a tweet that Google is still very committed to Chrome OS.

There's a ton of momentum for Chromebooks and we are very committed to Chrome OS. I just bought two for my kids for schoolwork!

Google has confirmed to The Verge that Chrome OS is not completely dying, but did not comment on how it may be changing.

Source: Wall Street Journal

109 Comments
  • Looks like MS beat them to the punch. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yup. Except people are actually buying Android phones in droves...
  • Yeah, but it's not about Android phones. It's about a building a unified computing platform.
  • Microsoft has just begun dude, u need to wait and watch were it goes, most ppl are pretty positive about the direction Microsoft is driving windows 10 to, especially after the spectacular surface devices launched
  • Lol has just begun. Didn't they begin 5 years ago. They need to stop beginning' Posted via the Android Central App
  • With new leadership comes new vision and new direction. Satya Nadella vision is the best MS has seen in the last 5. I serious doubt MS will ever be near what they once was, but they path is why Google is trying to do the same thing. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I just came here to say that :) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good that I'm not the only one ;)
  • Too bad most of the world has no idea they have a mobile OS...
  • You sure about that? Cause there are plenty of countries that MS is number 2 in Mobile OS. They don't have a powerful market that obvious with only 3-4% market share, but they do have a strong presence and have over 50 million at the very least out but the market last I saw. Continuum is awesome and its nothing like what Android is doing. Once company switch to Intel chips in phone its gonna be serious for MS. Its one reason I wish I could load W 10 on my ZF2. Posted via the Android Central App
  • They have a higher marketshare than their normal #'s in some eastern European countries, but I don't think they're #2 in any of them. Its possible though
  • Pretty much neck and neck with Apple in Germany, France and Italy at the 10-15% mark, I've heard similar numbers for Eastern Europe. The market seems to be people who "think different" but can't afford Apple. The site below is fun but I wish it had more countries http://www.kantarworldpanel.com/global/smartphone-os-market-share/
  • Lol
  • Really? With a failed mobile presence after how many tries? 1. Winmobile failed, let's start over with 2. WP7 failed, let's start over with 3. WP8 failed, let's start over with 4. WP10. I know all about continuum and it's not that amazing. You get to use a crappy Windows phone as a computer when you're out and about. So what? The rest of us just use our android or iPhones when we're out and about because well... we actually have apps and developers who care about our platform. MS doesn't get it. Their solution to sucking at mobile is to... find another way to make you want to use the desktop OS when you're mobile? Like I'm going to drag a keyboard, mouse and monitor around to plug my phone into when I'm at a hotel rather than just.. I don't know... use my Android or iPhone because they actually have APPS? Continuum is idiotic unless you're one of the 0.00001% of people who just happens to be traveling somewhere to make a powerpoint presentation with a phone using the destination's keyboard, mouse, and monitor. The rest of us don't care.
  • You cared enough to leave this long message? Lol amazing how sensitive people are every time an other OS is brought. And please don't act like Android hasn't had its fair share of failure in the mobile market. Thanks for the rant. And FYI with Continuum with the wireless display you don't need a dock, mouse or keyboard as your phone switches to all that. But I see you know everything about continuum. It's pretty clear you missed the whole point of continuum and one OS across all devices. Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Don't be a hypocrite, you posted just as many responses as anyone on this article so nice try. Nice try #2 I never said anything about a "dock" either. As for wireless display, if you're so in need of using your phone as an on-the-go computer with continuum then you're likely doing something where NOT having a dedicated KB+mouse is going to be a royal pain. This is all besides the point anyway. Here we are, with W10 live, so let's just see how many sales of MS phones come out of your argument shall we? Then we'll see who gets the laughs between us. Nobody's going to care, people still aren't going to buy them
  • Oh and also right from the editors and writers on your own Windows Central news: "I asked Microsoft if you can have multiple apps running on the big screen using Snap view, and their answer was no. You can't use Snap view with Continuum. In fact, you can only run up to two apps at a time: one app on your phone and another app in the big screen" terrible. "You can also enable Continuum using Miracast on supported devices, but using the wired Microsoft Display Dock is the best solution as there is no compression like with Miracast. Your phone will also continue to charge while plugged into the dock." Miracast sucks by the way. There goes that argument. "Continuum for phones works over Miracast but still needs new hardware too" -Daniel Rubino after talking to Joe Belfiore.
  • Ok. You told me. Of course miracast compresses. I thought that would be obvious. I also know anything hardwired is always the best solution. You missed the actual point. But I understand. But please. Continue your rant completely over looking the point of why Android is even going this route. Lol smh. Despite your arrogance what MS is doing right now is years ahead of anything Google is doing. If they talking about 2017 to integrate they already 2 years behind. Posted via the Android Central App
  • lol where have I heard THAT promise before from MS. And how can MS be years ahead by launching a feature that basically only a minuscule % of the population will care about let alone use? What's going to be the end result here? WP will climb from 3% adoption to 4%? And once again check your facts. Even Rubino recently wrote that he doesn't feel Continuum will fully flesh out until 2017 either. But don't let me stop you from desperately resorting to insults and sarcasm because I keep knocking your arguments down with facts.
  • Ok. You win. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I already knew that but thanks anyway for your support and admiration.
  • Lol. Ok Posted via the Android Central App
  • You can easily plug an Android into a monitor and use a keyboard and mouse to control it. You can even run two apps side by side depending on the phone you have. How is continuum any different?
  • The whole point of continuum is to allow the mobile platform and PC be one OS across all platform. Once WP starts making Intel phones, they will be able to run legacy programs. One OS. When Continuum starts running on a dock or wireless display it switches from mobile view to desktop mode. Same with Surface tablets. It has way more to do than just a keyboard and mouse. You use your TV or monitor and your phone switches to your mouse and keyboard interface while you phone projects desktop mode. Its doesn't just project your phone screen like Android. It switches to Win 10 desktop mode. One OS all devices. Phone, tablet, PC, XBox. But I see people only talking about mouse and keyboard and COMPLETELY missing the point of having one OS that Google is trying to do. Already 2 years behind. Even when have the refined in 2017, Google will just be getting their vision out to the public. But whatever. I'm not going back and forth. It's pointless. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Windows Mobile didn't fail.. It was defeated as other mobile os at the time of the rise of iOS and Android. Their other attempts were failures though. But they try.. Remember, Windows Mobile phones were not subsidized.. Like $600 for a new phone in 2000-2006 was hard to justify.. It was number 1 for many years.. It was a success, not a failure.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Mobile
  • Defeat=failure. Does that really have to be explained to you?
  • They should have done this 5 years ago. ChromeOS never made sense as a separate product.
  • Yeah. +++ Insert witty signature, watch as others not get it, profit +++
  • Plenty of Chrome users would be of a different opinion on this.
  • Hundreds, I'm sure. Chrome runs on Android, sort of, and they should have just figured out how to get the real, desktop version of Chrome to run on Android years ago, rather than waste time building a second mobile platform that they'd inevitably end up killing.
  • Lol Hundred. I never wasted my time with Chrome OS. I would have cared much more had it been unified. It would have been much different. This is where MS outshines Google IMO. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Actually, Chrome and Android on top of Linux mostly.
  • Idunno. I like and use them both. For different things, on different devices, at different times. I like that they both interact well with Google services - which they do already. Not sure what the benefit would be of having them actually merged.
  • This signifies the end of Windows. Android mixed with Chrome OS and based on the almighty Linux kernel is ready to capture the diminishing area of desktop computing the way it captured mobile and tablets. This explains why Microsoft is so eager to impose on us its closed source spyware OS. Time is running out!
  • And Android/ChromeOS aren't spying on you? Dream on!
  • Well they ARE an advertising company, people need to stop forgetting that.
  • Sure your right... Microsoft owns the desktop and won't be relinquishing that for the foreseeable future. Posted from my AT&T 64 gig Black Sapphire leather wrapped Note 5
  • Seriously buddy, end of windows, u cannot be dat crazy, pls tell me u were kidding??
  • I know right... Lol, over 90 % of the world's desktops and PC's run windows. Not to mention basically all of enterprise and governments around the world. MS and the windows platform are too big to fail. But their marketshare could certainly shrink significantly in the coming years.
  • Their market share is only going to increase since they are pushing their software and services to all platforms. I fully expect to see a Windows Mobile skin on top of Android real soon and I am sure that is the main reason for Google trying to change Android. Posted from my AT&T 64 gig Black Sapphire leather wrapped Note 5
  • Have you seen the permissions on 95% of your Android applications? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I bet, he hasn't..Even though he has, he couldn't understand what it means..
  • Google is a long long ways away from competing with Microsoft in the PC market... yes there's potential for Google in the PC consumer market, just like tablets have taken place of a PC for a lot of people... but google is going to have a difficult time gaining ground in the Business PC market, and the business PC market is larger than the consumer market. There's the two main things I can think of that are going to make it difficult for them to move into the business market. 1. Legacy applications - so many businesses are using legacy applications, and many times multiple legacy application. These companies would have to not only have to change OS they are using but they would also have to change all their applications at the same time to support this other OS. This would be a monumental feat for a lot of companies... the resources and training this would require would be too much for a lot of companies. As an IT manager it's frustrating enough just trying to upgrade to the latest version of Windows because there's those couple applications that take well over a year to upgrade their software to the latest version of Windows. 2. Policy Management - Google currently doesn't have a solution for enterprise policy management like Microsoft's Active Directory, and neither does Apple. I believe this is one of the big reasons why Apple hasn't gained more market share in business than they have. If Google wants to really get into the business PC market they need to have a solution for centralized Policy Management, because Network Admins do not want to go around to every PC in the company to change settings. These are two of the reasons why at my company we only purchase Windows based PCs and tablets. I'm not saying that this new merged Google OS won't be better than Windows, I'm just saying these are two big hurdles they'll have to get over and it's going to take time.
  • This is where delusion kicks in for Fanboys cause they too blind to see the obvious. Posted via the Android Central App
  • or fanboys who defend a mobile platform that's constantly failed? who's the delusional one?
  • Fanboy doesn't uses an Android phone. You need to change your tampon. I choose not to be masterminded. You should try it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • *narrowminded* Posted via the Android Central App
  • Try using a failed mobile OS with a ghost town app store? No thanks I'll pass. Enjoy your feature phone though, I really liked mine in 2001.
  • Awwww. I see now. Lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • LOL another MS ass licker. Piss off back to Mommy's basement.
  • Can I buy drugs from you? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I would love google to make a linux desktop which can run linux apps and build a new OS just like how apple did with mac
  • Mac OS X is based on BSD, a UNIX derivative, not Linux. Linux and OS X are more second or third cousins than they are a parent and child. http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2021922
  • Well great! But does this mean existing Chromebooks will become obsolete or will they get some kind of update that merges everything also? Because I've been eyeing the Toshiba CB 13 to upgrade from the C720, but it won't make sense to purchase any CB now if they won't be supported in the transition.
  • I'd imagine that they'll be able to be updated, or Chromebook sales for the next 2 years will plummet.
  • What happened to not being evil, Google? Yeah, this sucks bc I JUST bought the ASUS Flip chromebook last week and am really liking it for light duty stuff. I hope an update will just fold Chrome into the new version of Android and it'd be great if they make an announcement about that soon. If google screws me on this, I'll never buy any directly Google created hardware if I can help it. I'm a slave to their software.
  • I just bought the Flip as well and love it. Since I use ChromeOS as my main device, I certainly hope that the new OS maintains the features I love about my Chromebooks.
  • Why are they Evil? Will you suddenly no longer love it when the change happens? Its not like they are going to come to your house and bust the door in, take the Chrome Book and leave.
  • No, but as someone responsible for rolling out Chromebooks to an entire school, it's easier when there's only 1 operating system. And I can't purchase then without assurances that the OS will be supported moving forward.
  • Every Choromebook that exists would have no problem running a WiFi based Android Derivative - why would combining the two mean that your Chromebook would become obsolete? Assume the new combined OS will work on a phone built in late 2015 and all through 2016 so it will work on your Chromebook.
  • Google's stated update policy for Chrome OS devices is at least five years. https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/eol.html I suppose that doesn't necessarily imply that all existing devices would be upgraded to whatever this Android/Chrome merged OS is, but they won't stop receiving OS updates entirely and become obsolete. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I sincerely hope that Chromebooks don't get updated to a combined OS. The majority of Chromebooks have specs which are optimised for Chrome OS and I suspect their limitations (eg 2gb ram) would show on Android.
  • Luckily my new asus flip has 4GB ram,
  • #LeonIsProgress "Life in the so called space age."
  • Oops Microsoft beat you to it...by a long way...and more extensively...and they're not done yet...
  • I knew this was coming when ChromeOS was released. I was always puzzled why Google didn't just expand Android to the desktop arena. Once Android app support started showing up in ChromeOS, I knew it would only be a matter of time before the two were the same product.
  • I would imagine price has a lot to do with it. The chromebook is easy to produce at its price point. But an "Android laptop" needs much better hardware and can't be priced as aggressively. Maybe Google has found a way around that.
  • Desktop vs Mobile, two different departments now unified. Microsoft succeeded in that regard with the Surface Pro now watch as Google and Apple try to play catch up. The problem was Androids a touch based OS and touch wasn't a thing for PC's then, thus Chrome OS. Now thanks to Windows 8-10 touch is catching on fast in the PC area. So it will be interesting to see if Google makes the same mistakes as Microsoft did with Windows 8x or if it will be truly Unified like Windows 10. If it's built into Chrome browser for Windows, I'll be all over it, but I see no other need for an Android PC unless it's in my pocket. Posted via the Android Central App on the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
  • And yet they've been denying it forever...
  • It'll be interesting to see how this affects the custom ROM community.
  • It's been in plain sight, you ever seen the chrome android statue? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Unless I'm missing something here, I'm not looking forward to this at all. I've had a Samsung Chromebook for two years now, and it's honestly just as fast now as it was when I first got it. I enjoy Android very much, but we all know that a two year old android phone will not run just like new. I have no desire to install apps on my Chromebook, or even for it to have a touch screen. Keep Chrome OS simple.
  • You're right...my Nexus 5 runs better than new. Now my first two androids had me pulling my hair out after 18 months. But i don't think that's valid any longer.
  • Yeah it is. Try a Samsung device. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Tried the Galaxy s6, s6 edge, Note 5 and s6 edge plus and all ran fine. Anything else we should know smart guy? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well the conversation is about older devices... Say an S3. S4 even. In my case I bought an htc vivid shortly after the One X was introduced due to expandable storage and swappable battery. After 18 months it was a very unsatisfactory experience. I think now, in general, 18 months in you're likely to be pretty happy with your device. Posted from the ghost of my HTC Aria via Android Central App
  • Sure! Is that you just got schooled by vividrich.
  • I have just fitted a new battery in my nexus 5, with marshmallow update my nexus 5 is that good I'm keeping it for another year. Google has done a stellar job with Android 6.0. If anyone has a Nexus 5 Go out and order a new battery. Honestly you won't regret it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It make so much sense. Better to make the Chrome browser run Android app!
  • I hope this doesn't mean that my chromebook is going to take over a minute to boot now. I like that I can update the OS, reboot, then be surfing again in seconds.
  • Agreed..... Everyone wants more and more and yet I appreciate the Chromebook for being there and ready whenever I need it. I really hope they don't mess this up. I know lots of people hate them and find them useless but I think they are perfect for many needs and hope I don't regret just recently ordering a new one. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Only assholes find them useless. .
    They're a great product and service their purpose well. They handle 95% of the typical consumer needs. Cheap, no hassle, stylish, no virus protection needed, & fast Web browsing. Nothing can beat it's value. They're perfect for a secondary machines or primary for someone who just needs something to get online. Anyone who "hates" them or finds them "useless" is a fool. If you need something else for you personally, fine - that's another story. But they're by no means useless.
  • I agree.... I've had the HP 14 for years now and it's been my most used device besides my phone.... I finally gave in and ordered a Chromebook with a better screen but the HP is working perfectly.... And now this possibly worrisome news? ....... Posted via the Android Central App
  • I won't criticize, I knew this was coming, apple will join the game too sooner or later, seeing ms is already done a lot in dat direction
  • I called that when Google made the head of Chrome and Android their CEO. It was bound to come up. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Makes the pixel C make more sense now Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yup, same thoughts. No wonder the announcement was awkward, it was slightly premature. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Just put the android operating system in the cloud. Done and done! The ultimate OS! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not sure the point of this.. They're both great as separate products.
  • Google is trying to do to much. Such as trying to tie google circle with photos, Hangouts with Google voice, and then trying to tie them all together. For most, not all, it has been a nightmare. From lag to crashing to just flat out not working. I'm not saying this is bad, but google as of late has borked more than they have fixed. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Maybe we can have awesome Chromebooks with manufacturer skins on them.... Slow updates..... Crashing.... Slow boot times.... Leave chrome OS as is.... Some people like it. One system is closed.... One is open.... I'll be interesting to see how this works..... Seems unnecessary to me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Agreed
  • That's what i was trying to say. Polish up what they have, get them to work as intended, then leave them alone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Disaster waiting to happen. Since Android is source code that is modified by the OEMs and then deployed, laptops running Android will suffer from the same lack of updates and fragmentation that has plagued the handset market. No thanks.
  • not if google control the update just like nexus
  • Too late Google. Windows 10 already did that job. And did it well. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Never too late. I've been saying for the longest, i'd love a full android desktop pc. It will be google nexus pc with the latest updates and seamless integration to other devices. While windows isnt going anywhere soon, its great for something new to shake things up.
  • There's always the moto atrix. Posted via the Android Central App
  • So, now this brings a little bit more light to what the Pixel brand is probably all about. Posted via Android Central App from a beautiful Ebony backed Original Moto X or the amazing Nexus 10
  • Why all discussion about Microsoft? Please stop boring everyone! Posted via Android Central App
  • If you think what MS is doing boring you obviously have no idea what this article is even about and why. People who don't understand things are the reason why they are bored. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I guess that means Google is boring then. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes please. Posted via the Android Central App by OnePlus One
  • They should've been working on this instead of the failure that was Honeycomb tablet UI. I just hope they wait until it's really ready and don't deviate from the current path too much. Maybe this is why they haven't copied multi-window yet? Unfortunately, this will probably take us a few steps backwards on battery life improvements and introduce a slew of unwanted beta bugs of course. I'll definitely have to watch this closely before committing.
  • Should I wait to buy a new Toshiba Chromebook then? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Interesting. So Microsoft seems to be ahead lately and even nimble but yet they say 2 years is short for Google on a project they have already been working on for quite some time. I used to be a diehard Google fan years ago but this is getting really interesting. Being a gadget junkie, this helps me keep my purchasing in line since it will be one less OS device to buy. I'm just waiting for those doom and gloom people to now say Google is failing. For my part, I'm grabbing my popcorn and getting ready to enjoy the fruits of the increased competition from the three players in the coming years. Looks like i will stay broke buying from all three although lately I've been thinking to leave Apple out of my budget as they have been less interesting. :-) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Didn't they technically hint this at last year's I/O event?
  • This is interesting news, I wonder if Google is planning to go full on PC mode though. In other words, driver support for AMD and Nvidia GPU's and full on pc gaming. I could see myself going 100% google ecosystem if I could still get some AAA gaming titles. I'd just keep my laptop for the business side of things.
  • Whatever the new Android/Chrome merge is, it had better be able to run all versions of Turbo tax or it is of no value to me. They can't make a system that runs half of what people need to use today on a PC or Mac. Posted via Android Central App