While Google’s Android operating system was designed for smartphones, it seems to be a fairly popular OS choice among tablet makers. A fair number of prototypes I saw at CES this year were running Android, and you can already pick up an Archos 5 Internet Tablet running the mobile operating system. But it looks like Android isn’t the only tablet-friendly OS Google is working on.
Google Chrome OS is designed primarily for netbooks and laptops with full keyboards. While Android is a light weight OS designed for a mobile computing experience, Chrome is basically an OS designed around a web browser. The idea is that most of the apps you run will be web apps, and that the hardware and software should really just be a conduit for getting online. And you know what? That doesn’t necessarily require a physical keyboard.
There’s a page on the Chrome OS developer site showing a series of concept drawings for how Chrome could work with a tablet. The mockups include several images of an on-screen keyboard which can be repositioned or reconfigured. For instance, you could type with all ten fingers on a full sized on-screen keyboard much like the Apple iPad on-screen keyboard. Or you can split the keyboard so that some letters show up on the left side of the screen and others are on the right. This would make it easier to hold the tablet in your hands and type with your thumbs.
Right now, the Chrome tablet UI is just a concept. There’s no confirmation that Google or anyone else is working on the hardware for this device, or that PC makers are planning to install Chrome on tablets. But it certainly looks like Google is at least thinking about the possibility.
You can check out a concept video after the break.