On October 4, Google is expected to reveal its plans for something that has been rumored about and reported on for over a year: a merging of its Android and Chrome OS in a way we've never before seen.
It's called internally "Andromeda", according to reports by Android Police and 9to5 Google, and it's expected to become the singular platforms through which people access Google – so laptops, phones and tablets.
These same reports also make mention of a hybrid, laptop-tablet device that will possibly be shown off during the otherwise Pixel phone-centered event, running the Andromeda OS. Also, why do we seem so sure that Google will have something to say about this Andromeda business?
"We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today," Google SVP of Android, Chrome OS & Play Hiroshi Lockheimer tweeted on September 24. "I have a feeling 8 years from now we'll be talking about Oct 4, 2016."
That's why. So, let's get on with it, eh?
Cut to the chase
- What is it? An Android-meets-Chrome, multi-device operating system
- When is it out? Current reports point to sometime in 2017
- What will it cost? Likely nothing, as is with Android and Chrome
What is Andromeda?
First off, it's reportedly the code name for Google's oft-rumored-and-reported merging of its Android and Chrome OSes, the former being a phone and tablet platform and the latter one for its affordable laptop platform, Chromebooks. We've even seen the seeds of such a merging be sowed this year.
At Google I/O 2016, the firm announced that Android apps would become available on Chromebooks, finally necessitating the odd-few Chromebooks with touchscreens. But, more importantly, this expressed Google's interest in marrying these two platforms together.
Fast forward to today, and reporters expect Andromeda to offer the flexibility of a mobile OS in terms of an adaptable interface and sophisticated touch gesture support, but with the sensible – and more readily-accessible – file system and other niceties we've come to expect from our laptops.
Android Police specifically claims to have heard from sources that Andromeda is the result of Google introducing Chrome features to Android, not the other way around. The outlet also suggests that the initiative to get Android apps running on Chromebooks is unrelated to Andromeda, but at the very least one had to inspire the other, whichever that is.
What is the Pixel 3 – or Bison?
In the same report, some of which has been corroborated by 9to5 Google's sources, Android Police details a device internally named "Bison", a hybrid computing gadget that's been already nicknamed "Pixel 3," or the de facto successor to the second Chromebook Pixel.
However, that name barely applies, because the device is allegedly to not be marketed as a Chromebook, but as an entirely new approach from Google to computing. While the outlet did receive specification information from its source, it was quick to present them with a helping of salt based on when it expects Bison to release: Q3 2017.
The Pixel 3 is expected to be a convertible hybrid, though some anticipate a detachable, that will come in two versions with 12.3-inch touch displays. Powering the device with be either an Intel Core m3 or Core i5 processor with either 32GB or 128GB of storage, and either 8GB or 16GB of memory (RAM).
Also standard on what's assumed to be two models are, reportedly, two USB-C ports, a fingerprint scanner, 3.5mm audio jack, a bunch of sensors and stylus compatibility, with a Wacom pen sold separately. The device will also allegedly have stereo speakers, quad microphones and a battery that can last about 10 hours.
Android Police also reports that the keyboard will be backlit, and the glass trackpad will use haptic feedback and force detection, similar to the 12-inch MacBook. The device is said to measure 10mm thin, which would noticeably beat Apple's thinnest laptop yet.
Again, take these details with the appropriate dashing of salt, but the outlet also says to have heard that the Pixel 3 will start at $799 (about £622, AU$1,041), too.
Sidenote: 9to5 Google expects the firm to release Andromeda on a Nexus-branded Huawei tablet as well, based on claims from its sources and evidence that Google has been testing the OS on a Nexus 9 tablet already.
What could Andromeda mean for Android and Chrome?
From what we're hearing, Andromeda seems to be Google's response to Microsoft and Apple's united platforms with one of its own. In turning Android into one of the main places from which Google's billions of users access the service and later capitalizing on that with Chrome OS in the classroom and workplace, Google itself has become the third major player in platforms.
Again, from the sound of it, Andromeda is going to accomplish much of what Microsoft and Apple already have in Windows 10 and iOS-to-macOS Sierra Continuity, respectively, but in a very Google way. It's easy to expect access to Google's inimitable search and data-tracking at your fingertips, which it would tout as better than Microsoft's and Apple's, and an interface the changes based on the device from which it's accessed.
Will this eventually mean the end of Android and Chrome? In name, most likely, but their principles would almost certainly live on – there's too much solid foundation not to build on top of it. Some predict this transition will happen gradually, and we're inclined to agree.
The end result, likely to be seen long from now, will be just one platform for Google to worry about, able to push new updates and features to all versions at once, simplifying support as well as user understanding.
Nevertheless, Lockheimer's tweet suggests something monumental for the October 4 event, so stay here with us as we update this article with the details once they all roll in.
- In the meantime, see what's hot in the best Chromebooks