Google building a tablet version of Chrome OS

By on April 7, 2011, 10:41 AM
Details in the source code reveal that Google is building a tablet version of Chrome OS. The search giant confirmed the news, but it wouldn't discuss timing details, saying simply that tablets are not a priority for the browser-based operating system.

"We are engaging in early open-source work for the tablet form factor, but we have nothing new to announce at this time," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "Chrome OS was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of form factors. We expect to see different partners build different kinds of devices based on Chrome OS, but for this initial release we are targeting the notebook form factor."

CNET has made a list of tablet-specific various changes in the Chrome OS source code that occurred during March and April:

  • The "user-agent string" text that browsers supply so Web servers can deliver the appropriate version of a Web site--for touch user interfaces. The string includes the term "CrOS Touch," not just CrOS as before. "This lets Web sites that are already customizing for tablet experiences easily adapt to support tablet ChromeOS devices," the programming change log notes.
  • A "virtual keyboard" with a number of keys--tab, delete, microphone, return, and shift, for example--drawn in SVG so they can be shown by a browser. Screen keyboards are, of course, a necessity with tablets.
  • A variety of moves to make the browser more touch-friendly, for example by increasing the space around items to make it easier to select them with a touch interface.
  • A revamped new-tab page (which people see when they open a new, blank tab) that's "optimized for touch." The current page shows an array of Web applications downloaded from the Chrome Web Store, but the modified version adds multiple screens of icons in the style of iOS devices.

The discovery is significant for multiple reasons, but one sticks out like a sore thumb. Five months ago, Google outlined its mobile OS strategy, specifically saying that Android is for touch, Chrome OS is for keyboards. The company emphasized that Android is tailored for mobile devices with touchscreens while Chrome OS is primarily designed around something with a keyboard (traditional computers such as netbooks and laptops). That's not to say that Android devices can't have keyboards or that Chrome OS can't do touch, but it was a useful generalization that now appears to have gone out the window.

This raises many questions, the biggest being around what will happen to Android. We hope that Google has a plan on converging it somehow with Chrome OS and isn't simply plowing forward blindly with a second mobile OS, just for the sake of making a browser-based one.




User Comments: 8

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lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Am I the only one that thinks they should have done THIS instead of building a Chrome OS netbook? I guess to me, a Chrome OS tablet is much more practical...

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Well there wasn't an iPad announced when they unveiled ChromeOS. The iPad changed the scenery for the future of computing and tablets.

Jurassic4096 said:

No you're not.

I won't touch any Google device until there is one for smartphones, and one for tablets/netbooks. Android OS 1.5 and 1.6 phones are still out there. that blew my mind. fix that first. That is the only thing stopping me from going Android/Honeycomb. I won't buy one and wait. We've seen what good that's done in the past.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

jurassic4096 said:

No you're not.

I won't touch any Google device until there is one for smartphones, and one for tablets/netbooks. Android OS 1.5 and 1.6 phones are still out there. that blew my mind. fix that first. That is the only thing stopping me from going Android/Honeycomb. I won't buy one and wait. We've seen what good that's done in the past.

I dont think you'll have to wait too long... if you can afford it, or root it.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

You have to be connected to a network of some type to do ANYTHING on Chrome OS. And that right there, ladies and gentlemen, is why I refuse to use Chrome OS. I like being able to access my apps and media while not online. Split second boot time means nothing if you can't access anything off line.

Guest said:

This is a great read........im going to look more into this information i think that this would definitely be of some good.

http://itsme-android.blogspot.com/

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

I predict Chrome OS will eventually be eaten by Android, giving a real OS with a real browser on touch devices.

Guest said:

You're not the only one...I already have a netbook, and I don't use it anymore. If Google were to release a tablet running OS I'd scoop it - I'd even wait for it if it were coming out later this year. But since they're not, I'm getting an iPad. I don't need another netbook - in fact, the netbook is less practical than the tablet. Iwas nice to take notes on while I used it, but the tablet does everything and more, and it's more portable for every day use. I guess they didn't know ahead of time when they put the Chromebook into development that Apple was going to release a tablet, but...*shrug* it was weird for them to put out a netbook when the market is moving away from netbooks.

The cloud computing thing is a good idea (I'm connected to a network 99% of the time, and when I'm not, I'm typically not using my computer), but put it on a tablet.

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