Andromeda inbound? Google's long-rumored Android/Chrome OS merger may debut Oct 4

Collision course.

Google’s much-anticipated hardware event on October 4 may have more in store than some new Pixel phones and Google Home pricing. A report from Android Police speculates that Google will use the moment to unveil its highly rumored merger of Chrome OS and Android into one hybrid operating system.

The whole mess started over the weekend when Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer tweeted that October 4, 2016 would be as historic as the original roll out of Android on September 23, 2008. Android Police believes Lockheimer’s tweet is hinting at the mash-up project, which AP says is called Andromeda internally.

Additionally, 9to5 Google has discovered code in the Android Open Source Project for Android 7.0 that directly references "Andromeda devices."

The latest rumors of an Android-Chrome OS merger began in October 2015. At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google would launch the new Android-Chrome OS project in 2017. Before that, however, Google would debut an early version of the new operating system in 2016, the Journal said. With three months and a few days left in 2016 and Lockheimer’s teaser tweet, AP figures it’s now or never for Andromeda to see the light of day.

The implications for a post-Andromeda Google is far from clear. Several other outlets, in addition to the Journal, reported that Chrome OS would not be going away. That would mean device makers will have three options: Android, Chrome OS, and Andromeda.

Unless Google has a clear, easily understandable reason to keep Chrome OS and Andromeda as two parallel projects this could get confusing, fast. Do you want the Android-powered laptop that runs Android apps and has the Chrome browser, or do you want the Chrome-based laptop that runs Android apps?

Google will also have to explain why Andromeda is even necessary for consumers. Phones and tablets have no real need for Chrome OS, and Google just spent significant time getting Android apps to run on Chrome OS.

With just over a week to go until the big day we should know what Google’s plans are soon. We may even see the first Andromeda-powered laptop next week. In a separate report, Android Police says Google's working on a new Andromeda-powered Pixel laptop code-named ‘Bison’ that is due out in late 2017.

The story behind the story: Andromeda is an interesting code name for the project. Assuming it’s not a boring mash-up (Andr-ome-da), the name is thematically linked to the idea of a merger. Andromeda is the closest galaxy to our own—and it's scheduled to collide with the Milky Way in about 4 billion years. Android and Chrome OS are (presumably) on a similar collision course if these Andromeda rumors pan out. Hopefully it won’t take 4 billion years to complete, although knowing Google it could be in beta for about that long.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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