If you’ve been sleeping for the past year you may have missed a few things. Tablets, especially Android Tablets, aren’t doing so well, I wouldn’t call them dead but they are definitely a low volume market. Android apps are coming to ChromeOS, and all indications are it’s actually going to be awesome when Nougat hits. 2-in-1s and 360-degree laptops are the new cool form factor, and they are as useful as they are cool. Put all of that in a blender and what do you get?
My dream is Android Tablet, a 2-in-1 touchscreen ChromeOS device.
I still use a Tablet, but I have to admit I typically grab my Chromebook as it’s a bit more versatile, especially for writing and researching. It’s easier to have a device that does more than you want than have one that does less and have to grab another one #firstworldproblem. But what if my tablet was a Chromebook, with Android Apps of course, just without a keyboard. What if I could snap on a keyboard ala Surface Pro, Pixel C or Asus Transformer 3? This is a device that I think could really hit the mark for many consumers, at the right price and quality mark of course.
Image a tablet like device that had all of your android apps, an onscreen keyboard, LTE connectivity etc, and that same device when connected to a keyboard can use chrome and all of its powerful extensions in a more traditional “desktop way” all the while maintaining windowed access to your apps. I don’t know about you but that sounds awesome to me, and exactly the device I’ve been waiting for for 99% of my daily computing.
While Android apps running on ChromeOS is still in beta we really don’t know what the fully baked experience will be. Will all of my apps work properly/ be updated to work seamlessly? An essential component of the Android on ChromeOS experience has to be the resizable apps, this requires that apps are built to target the correct API level, which I bet will never include all of your favourite apps, and that’s just one element of the integration.
Storage space is another issue if you’re going to move Android apps onto a Chromebook. Traditionally Chromebooks come with, let’s be kind and call it limited internal storage. This is primarily because ChromeOS was developed as a cloud first OS, you’re not supposed to have local apps, services or files it was all meant to be in the cloud, and you were supposed to be always connected.
However, installing Android apps have changed all of that, and if a 2-in-1 Chromebook is to succeed as both an Android Tablet and a Chrome device it will most likely need at least options with more storage, or perhaps support for Androids Adoptable storage, but that brings its own headaches. I think we’ve proven that cloud first mobile first approach still requires a fair amount of local storage at least for the foreseeable future.
I don’t think there are any technical limitations to this form factor becoming a reality, and it could be argued that the Pixel C may have well been intended to be this device at some stage in its development. Other devices such as the Lenovo YogaBook, Samsung Chromebook Plus/ Pro and Asus Flip 2 are all experimenting with the 360-degree form factor and would offer all of the same benefits as a 2-in1, just in an always thicker package.
If we could get the joint benefit of ChromeOS and Android together in on of these new form factors I think Google just may have an operating system ready to expand their competition with Windows and MacOS.
Do you see the benefit of a ChromeOS 2-in-1/ 360-degree device with Android apps?