With the recent statements from Google on the future release of the Chrome Operating System (OS) on tablets in the future, there has been many a healthy debate on the future of the two projects.
The Chrome OS vs. Android discussion has been going on for quite some time but with tablets it will be the first time they actually share markets.
While certainly very different in their approaches, the two will be competition in the tablet market which seems to grow with each passing day.
The question is:
Is the competition healthy?
First off, it’s important to note the differences between the two.
- Android is a native OS, meaning it’s apps and information is stored on the user machine while Chrome OS is entirely Web based.
- Android is primarily used on mobile devices while Chrome OS is specifically targeted to netbooks and, likely, tablets.
- Chrome OS will require Internet access while Android works with sporadic access
Next, it’s important to discuss some of the history of the two projects.
Android started and to this day remains a primarily mobile Operating System, for phones and PDAs, etc.
Nevertheless, it is growing in the tablet field with the most notable product being the Motorola Xoom.
Chrome OS is still in the early stages overall, with a release date fast approaching and the tablet mechanics obviously just getting started.
So what does the future hold?
Well, to be completely honest, we think the two will coexist.
There’s been debate over combining the two together into one project, which in programming terms would actually mean to build what the other does from the ground up, but we think there’s subtle but important differences that will lead them into different futures.
We love our Android smartphone and would definitely be interested in a tablet, but at the same time we think we’d prefer a tablet with Chrome OS on it.
Because when we're mobile we expect our machine to be fast.
This isn’t a dig at the Android by any means, but when we’ve had our notebook and been travelling, typically what we encounter is a sort of leapfrog:
Queue up a task, move, work on task, move, queue up next task, etc.
With Chrome OS, the real work is being done on servers and machines far more powerful than ours that can pull in the resources desired in a moment’s notice.
All the local machine has to do is portray via the monitor and User Interface (UI) what is going on.
That, to us, sounds excellent.
We're a huge fan of cloud computing and as a PC gaming enthusiast, have watched as the movement has grown tremendously over the past few years.
With the ability to work or browse on the fly in real-time, that to us sounds excellent.
You may be thinking to yourself though:
‘You idiot, your hardware must suck,’ and that is certainly part of the case.
We're a budget spender, but more importantly software continues to grow in it’s memory usage rate each year.
How does this affect your Chrome OS machine?
Hardly at all.
Since the actual work takes place ‘off-shore’, the machines that run them must of course be updated while we users get the benefit of things simply just working.
The Android doesn’t have this same ability since the work takes place on the user machine.
And they’re both great.
We love technology dearly, we're a fan of watching things grow year-in, year-out and hardware is definitely a part of that.
There are some things that are just better when run on your own machine, but at the same time a world where things work at the speed of thought is fantastic as well. Chrome OS hands-down offers the greatest speeds of the two, which in today’s world matters greatly.
Speaking of today’s world, there is one area where the two differ greatly.
We're from a rural area so constant Internet connectivity means having a card from our local phone service connecting us to the Internet and even then it’s spotty at best.
Chrome OS requires continuous Internet access to work and, while we’re still very early in the process, the ability to connect via anything besides a land line or WiFi hasn’t been mentioned.
That’s not to say it isn’t in the works, but Android has this ability built-in.
In larger cities, campuses, or businesses where it’s not an issue Chrome OS will definitely shine and as we progress forwards, more countries will be covered in WiFi hot spots and such but it’s definitely a chink in the armor for now.
We genuinely believe though that there is room for both systems and wouldn’t be at all surprised if they stayed as separate projects.
Some people may say it’s stupid to have both, but they play to different crowds and that’s definitely a good thing.
Google has the opportunity to please the extreme-mobile, extreme-modder, and casual crowd with both systems should they play their cards right.
While splitting up a market with internal competition is widely regarded as a bad move in the business world, we think with the right approach Google can play to their strengths of the individual OSs.
We like having the options.