Google has a lot of lines of development. I’m not just referring to the numerous products that Google vigorously mixes up with its brilliant minds. I’m also referring to very similar lines of development within a singular product or product category. That’s certainly the case with operating systems. Until recently, Google was running two different lines of Android development in the form of the 2.x line for smartphones and the 3.x line for tablets. On top of that they were running the Chrome OS development, covering many similar features. Google has now wrapped the 2.x and 3.x Android OS lines together, but is it possible they’ll do the same with Chrome OS, developing Chrome as a smartphone and tablet operating environment?
That’s what Anton Wahlman of The Street thinks. He predicts that 2012 will see a Chrome OS–powered phone from Google. While he has plenty of different reasons behind his prediction, his primary reason is that Chrome would resolve the various sticky security situations Android gets itself into. Since Chrome OS would only require the Chrome browser and the untouched operating system (nothing would be installed into it but the browser), it would be almost impossible to hack – just like Chrome OS for netbooks, notepads, and desktops.
It’s not that far fetched, considering that Google’s Chrome OS team have already made Chrome OS accessible to tablet users by adding a touchscreen keyboard feature and support for tablet versions of sites. The issues, really, are far more about the carriers and speed capabilities. Clint Boulton of Google Watch notes that the major phone carriers haven’t been huge fans of Google’s independent phone projects, probably because those projects haven’t been, you know, successful. But Boulton also thinks that a Google data network that runs the system and the calls isn’t too out of the way, considering projects like Google Fiber.
That sort of high-speed internet would really be required if Google were to run such a cloud-oriented system. Even using 4G devices, like my HTC Evo, sites and apps aren’t exactly instant loads, making their capabilities fall well short of Chrome OS personal computers. While it’s not impossible, we’d have to stretch well beyond the 4G border that we just passed for an entirely cloud-based smartphone to be a real improvement.