Chrome OS Includes Touch-Screen Features, Aims at Tablets
Android Honeycomb may not be Google's only play in the tablet market. The Google Chrome OS code reveals a few features designed specifically for touch- screen interfaces.
So far Chrome OS has been marketed as a lightweight, cloud-supported operating system that relies heavily on the abundance of Web-based apps instead of installed software. In a sense, Chrome OS is simply an overhauled browser that can also run a computer. Google tested it on the Cr-48 laptop , and Acer and Samsung plan to release commercial versions this summer.
CNET dug into the Chrome OS source code and found a number of clues indicating it is being designed for tablets as well as notebooks. Some of the code refers to itself as "CrOS Touch" and asks sites for a touch-friendly version of the site. The code also includes an on-screen keyboard, which isn't useful in laptops but is essential in tablets. There are also several different design changes that facilitate touch-screen input.
And finally, the programming change logs themselves refer to changes that support "tablet ChromeOS devices."
At first, it seems a little counterintuitive for Google to develop another tablet OS when the company has worked so hard to bend Android to the task. But Chrome OS presents a good long-term tablet strategy.
First of all, there's the most pressing matter for Android tablets: apps. With Android fragmented over many devices, continuous compatibility issues have created quite a problem for Google. Honeycomb apps lag significantly behind iPad apps, both in quality and (especially) quantity. Chrome OS, on the other hand, uses thousands of Web applications that are already compatible with the Chrome browser (and consequently the OS), and Google already has a large number of apps for Google Chrome, including games and productivity apps. In a sense, a Google Chrome OS tablet would have a larger app base and an easier time of staying current with it than would current iterations of Android.
Regardless, it's unclear just what Google's strategy is at the moment. It's possible they will play "survival of the fittest" and support whatever manufacturers and consumers prefer; they may support both for a while; or it's even possible that the Android and Chrome OS might merge into a single entity.