Holy title. Apologies for that, but there is a lot to talk about when it comes to the potential future of Android and Chrome OS, thanks to numerous reports that surfaced over the weekend while the rest of us were on vacation, relaxing, consuming a half-dozen growlers of fresh hop IPA, and unplugging like all should do on weekends. Let’s catch up.
To start, we will need to take you back to October 2015 to a report from the Wall Street Journal that claimed Google was working on folding Chrome OS into Android to create a single operating system. The report suggested that Google had been working for at least two years on making this move happen, but they still wouldn’t be ready to bring it to stable until some time in 2017 after showing it off to the world in 2016.
Google has mostly denied that this was happening, saying that they are still actively working on both Chrome OS and Android in separate forms. Even with Android apps arriving on Chromebooks in recent months, Google hasn’t admitted that they plan to do any of what the WSJ report claimed.
And then on Saturday, as Android reached an 8-year anniversary from the time Google first announced it, Hiroshi Lockheimer Tweeted this:
We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today. I have a feeling 8 years from now we'll be talking about Oct 4, 2016.
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) September 24, 2016
OK, then. On October 4, we know that Google is more than likely going to announce the Pixel and Pixel XL phones, Google Home pricing and availability, and a new Chromecast Ultra and Google WiFi routers. They’ll sell us on why they switched to Pixel from Nexus, what “#madebygoogle” means when HTC built these phones, and how they see a vision for taking over the home in new ways. But saying that “we’ll be talking about Oct 4, 2016” in 8 years, at least to me, suggests more. Sure, phones and routers and home hubs are fun and all, but that’s not 8-year-worthy talking point stuff, unless they think the release of the first Pixel phones are going to be remember in 8 years.
The folks at Android Police think it has to do with that report from the Wall Street Journal. Their sources have made it clear that Google’s new future OS is running under the codename “Andromeda” at the moment. This is indeed supposedly the folding of Chrome OS into Android and is already testing on the Nexus 9, according to 9to5Google who dug up mentions of “Andromeda” in AOSP files. Android Police also thinks Google may launch “Andromeda” in 2017 with the next Chromebook Pixel device (codenamed “bison” or “Pixel 3”), though it may ditch the “Chromebook” portion of the name since it won’t exactly run Chrome OS.
UPDATE: 9to5Google also believes that “Andromeda” could arrive on the rumored Huawei Nexus tablet. Yes, Nexus, because it may not fully be dead as a brand just yet. They don’t really have any additional details to add, other than we think it’ll be launched with this guy, right here.
As far as this new Pixel 3 is concerned, it’s said to (at least in its current form) have a 12.3″ display with a convertible build that probably folds into a tablet experience, runs on an Intel 3 or i5 chipset with 32GB or 128GB of storage and 8GB or 16GB RAM. It may have a fingerprint reader, a couple of USB Type-C ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, “host of sensors,” stylus support with a sold-separately stylus, stereo speakers, etc. It sounds nice, if not extremely expensive, but could be priced at $799 or so, which isn’t bad.
Bringing it back to October 4 for a second, though, consider the idea that Hiroshi is talking about Google unveiling the first version of “Andromeda.” After all, it was just 8 years ago that they unveiled the first version of Android and it has taken over the world. It’s a moment in time that should be remembered. The likely follow-up to that kind of (hopefully) game-changing release certainly could be whatever is next for Google in mobile and computing operating systems. That “next” might just be the future, “Andromeda.”