There are two Google operating systems. Chrome OS is an operating system designed around a web browser that runs on desktop and notebook computers. And Google Android is a mobile operating system that lets you run a range of apps on phones, tablets, and other devices (Android also powers the Google TV platform and the upcoming Google Glass wearable device).
But the lines aren’t always so clear. You can run the Chrome web browser on Android devices, for instance. And soon you may be able to use Chrome OS on tablets… or something.
Google added support for touchscreen to Chrome OS before the company launched the Chromebook Pixel laptop with a touchscreen display. Now the company is also adding support for screen rotation.
The latest dev channel release of Chrome OS will allow you to rotate the screen orientation on any Chromebook. Of course, most Chromebooks don’t have the hardware to automatically detect when the screen is upside down and adjust accordingly. But you should be able to trigger the rotation manually.
While there aren’t many good reasons you’d want your Chromebook to display web pages upside down, screen rotation makes a lot of sense on a touchscreen tablet. So this could be a big hint that Google or one of its partners plans to release a tablet running Chrome OS.
Or maybe Google’s just inserting the code for folks that want to port Chrome OS to tablets in their free time… or just to mess with us.
Google has consistently said that Chrome OS isn’t for tablets. But at the same time, we’ve seen additions to the source code for the operating system over the past few years that seem to indicate that tablet support could be in the works.