Why Android and Chrome OS’s next step could be colossal

    For years now, we have been listening to — and seeing — how Chrome OS and Android are coming collectively.The saga has stretched on because the daybreak of time — or, uh, no less than since about 2015, when the Chromebooks-are-doomed refrain began confidently crooning concerning the inevitable pending “merger” of Chrome OS and Android. At the identical time, after all, these of us who had been watching issues intently anticipated a much more nuanced alignment of the platforms — nothing fairly as dramatic as an only-one-can-survive duel, admittedly, however a much more reasonable state of affairs and one we would been seeing take form for a while.And what ended up occurring? Well, I’ll inform ya, you rhetorical-question-adoring alpaca: The actuality of that alignment turned more and more clear over time, with Google slowly however absolutely bringing extra Android-like parts into Chrome OS (and even often bringing Chrome-OS-inspired touches into Android). Month by month, 12 months by 12 months, we have watched the 2 platforms change into extra constant, extra complementary, and extra linked.But that final half — the “connected” half — has all the time fallen frustratingly in need of its potential. Chromebooks and Android telephones actually appear to go collectively today, and shifting from one to the opposite is a pleasingly acquainted expertise. But whereas Google’s come a good distance with aligning the platforms’ interfaces, options, and even app choices, the notion of Chromebooks and Android telephones working “better together” has been extra advertising and marketing fluff than significant profit — no less than, up till now.An under-development part in Google’s open-source Chrome OS code suggests a very new system known as Phone Hub is at present within the works for Chromebooks. Phone Hub, you say? Yes, Phone Hub! As initially noticed by the eagle-eyed sleuths at 9to5Google, the characteristic will apparently “provide a [user interface] for users to view information about their Android phone and perform phone-side actions within Chrome OS.”Intriguing, no?The code goes on to elucidate that the Hub will embody no less than three new choices: “Phone Hub Notifications,” “Phone Hub Notifications Badge,” and “Phone Hub Task Continuation.”Well, tickle me tootsies and name me Mildred: That’s roughly precisely what the Android-Chrome-OS marriage has been missing all this time. And if any of it sounds acquainted, by golly, it ought to: It’s fairly comparable, no less than on the floor, to the Continuity system Apple supplies for its varied iDevices. And it is also paying homage to the work Microsoft is doing with its Windows-to-Android “Your Phone” setup — although that association is much much less native and seamless, particularly on the Android facet, and a few of its most helpful options are annoyingly restricted solely to current Samsung flagships (three sarcastic cheers for customer-hurting company partnerships!).Google, in distinction, has each the motivation and the means to make the Android-Chromebook connection universally highly effective. And whereas the thought of notification syncing being introduced into the equation is a pleasant, if overdue, notion, it is the “Task Continuation” idea that is most intriguing of all.We’ve seen some teases of that kind of factor over time, like when Google added instructed article hyperlinks into the Chrome OS app drawer some time again — however all these do is provide you with a fast solution to pull pages you’d had open in your Android cellphone. You do not actually choose up the place you left off in any significant method.Similarly, this time final 12 months, we began listening to about an effort to deliver a shared clipboard of types into Android and Chrome OS units the place the identical account is concerned. But to date, all we have seen is a guide text-sharing setup, which is good and useful and all however not fairly the true “universal clipboard” many people had been hoping to have. (And it is also a purely Chrome-driven characteristic, which suggests it really works between Android and another machine with Chrome put in — not solely a Chromebook. That actually does not take something away from it, virtually talking, nevertheless it does make it look like much less of an Android-Chrome-OS connection, particularly.)At this level, the principle extent of Android telephones and Chromebooks appearing linked and dealing collectively resides inside a single part of the Chrome OS settings. It’s known as “Connected devices,” and it was added into the combo in 2018. The part has three fundamental choices: pairing your Android cellphone along with your Chromebook and empowering it to maintain the Chromebook unlocked when it is close by, permitting your cellphone to share its knowledge reference to the Chromebook in a considerably automated sense, and enabling web-based entry to your textual content messages on the Chromebook through the Google Messages app.JR Not dangerous, by any stretch — however, nicely, the primary two choices have been obtainable on Chrome OS for ages, and the third is one thing that is really obtainable on any pc, whatever the working system. For all the eye this part obtained upon its arrival, it is largely only a repositioning and rebranding of some long-available, comparatively fundamental capabilities. The choices themselves have remained stagnant for a very long time.This has the potential to be an vital lacking piece of the puzzleBringing a real job continuation characteristic into the combo would shake issues up significantly. If it does what it feels like and allows you to actually choose up the place you left off and cross off duties from one machine to a different — in a method that’d allow you to transfer out of your laptop computer to your cellphone and again nearly seamlessly — nicely, that’d clearly deliver an enormous productiveness benefit to anybody who makes use of an Android cellphone and a Chromebook collectively. It’d be an enormous win for us as customers, clearly, and likewise an enormous win for Google as it really works to emphasise the significance of the “Google ecosystem” and the good thing about utilizing its merchandise throughout completely different domains.And as Google more and more works to deliver Chromebooks into the enterprise whereas Microsoft concurrently revs up its personal Windows-centric Android ecosystem, that could possibly be an extremely well timed type of platform-connecting worth to pitch. Think of all of the Android-using companies which may abruptly be impressed so as to add Chromebooks into their arsenals with the intention to create a extra full, handy, and environment friendly expertise.Even past simply the enterprise, I imply, actually: Who amongst us does not work throughout completely different machine varieties these days — and who amongst us would not need the transition from one machine to the subsequent to be extra seamless and friction-free? Microsoft is operating circles round Google on this space proper now, even though Google’s the one firm (whose title does not rhyme with Schmapple) that owns and controls a broadly adopted cell working system and desktop platform.For now, all we will do is wait and see what occurs as this characteristic makes its method from early growth onward. But it actually appears prefer it has the potential to be an vital lacking piece of the puzzle — one that might end what Google began and convey Chromebooks and Android telephones collectively in a method that is lengthy been promised however but to be offered.Sign up for my weekly publication to get extra sensible ideas, private suggestions, and plain-English perspective on the information that issues.[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]

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