I wish there was a Chrome phone

Android Statue
Android Statue (Image credit: Android Central)

Now that Chrome is a full-on tablet operating system, there is only one more frontier — the smartphone.

It's not that anything was changed in Chrome to run it on a tablet. Once Android apps started to run natively in Chrome I knew it was coming. It just took actual companies who make actual products a bit more time to catch up. Maybe that same dynamic is at work here and in a year or so the first Chrome phone will appear, but I'm probably just doing some of that wishful thinking.

Before you say I'm crazy, there are some really good reasons to want Chrome on a phone and in some ways, it's actually better suited for your mobile than Android was when it launched. Maybe Google learned from the past.

Ideally, we should never have to worry about the software that's on our phones and everything that we wanted them to do would just work and there would be no worries about exploits or bugs. That's never going to happen on anything with a screen, but Chrome is closer to that dream than Android is right now. Part of the reason why is Google having more control.

Android was never supposed to be better for you; it was made to please smartphone makers.

When you buy a device that runs Chrome the first 6.5 years of its life it can have full support with monthly updates and patches direct from Google. It doesn't matter who built it, Google takes care of the software and makes sure you are up to date every month. But only if you want them to.

All Chrome devices have another thing in common and that's how you can "unlock" the bootloader by placing the device into developer mode. Once done you can choose to run alternative software that can be very close to the original but without Google's hand inside by running Chromium, or you can go off the rails and install something else that supports the hardware configuration. There are some valid reasons why the people who made your phone and the people who made the parts inside it aren't into this idea, but it's really no different than the Nexus program was, even if nobody took advantage and tried to compile Sun SPARQ for their Nexus 6.

Most people aren't going to want to yank the software off a phone and replace it with some hairy homegrown solution. I get that. But Chrome is a better way for those folks, too, because who doesn't want their expensive new phone to work the way it was advertised to work for 6.5 years?

If Android had the same support as Chrome, the Pixel 2 would get Android 13 Teaberry.

Well, companies who make money when you buy a new phone probably aren't thrilled with the idea. Especially since the past 10 years or so have been spent kowtowing to them with Android. That's an experiment that has only proved that the Samsungs of the world can and will ruin everything for a handful of dollars and the AT&Ts of the world are lined up right behind them. It's easy to blame them for all of Android's problems, but you shouldn't because this was all Google's doing and what it took to get Android in 7 of every 10 smartphones ever made. I imagine to Google it was worth it.

Anyhoo, the idea that something different is coming isn't just a pipe dream, and whatever Google's Fuchsia is going to be will benefit from all the mistakes of the past. I'm just hoping that the end product is more like Chrome than Android and not just another round of fresh meat served up to smartphone makers.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.