For a company whose bread and butter is search, Google sure is working on a lot of operating systems… or two, rather. The company’s Android OS has taken the smartphone space by storm, and we’re starting to see it show up on tablet computers as well. And in the next few months Google is also expected to launch Chrome OS, a browser-based operating system aimed primarily at netbooks at launch.
If you’ve been wondering why Google needs two separate operating systems, you’re not alone. A lot of people have been scratching their heads over this one. After all, Chrome OS is a bit of a one-trick pony, since it’s basically an OS that loads a web browser. All your apps are web-based apps, and aside from some local caching features for accessing media while you’re offline, the OS pretty much relies on an internet connection to work.
Android, on the other hand, has a web browser built on the same Webkit rendering engine as Chrome OS… but it can also run tens of thousands of third party apps, some of which interact with the internet, and some of which just run on your native device.
Given those descriptions, I think it would be pretty logical to assume that Chrome OS was designed for smartphones and Android for netbooks, but for some reason the opposite it the case.
Anyway, whether you agree with the company’s reasoning or not, Google has been saying since day one that Chrome OS will launch on netbooks — and today Google CEO Eric Schmidt reiterated that… and went a bit further, saying the company sees Chrome OS as an operating system designed for devices with keyboards, while Android is better suited to touchscreens.
So while we’ve seen concept drawings showing how Chrome could work on tablets (and we’ve even seen early builds of Chrome installed on tablets), it looks like Google isn’t officially supporting that form factor yet.
Of course, Google isn’t officially supporting Android tablets yet either. The company has already stated the Android 2.2 Froyo isn’t optimized for tablets. But Google does plan to add tablet support to future versions of the OS.