Chrome OS adds screen rotation, a possible sign of a tablet to come

What you see in the image above is an unofficial build of Chrome OS made by Hexxeh, a Chrome OS fan and developer, running on the Nexus 7. There is no doubt that this application of Chrome OS is pretty neat and probably fun to mess with. But when I first heard about it I doubted the practical applications of a tablet with Chrome OS when it could just as well be running Android. However, it looks like Google may actually think that Chrome OS on tablet hardware does have some potential, and is worth distinguishing from Android for one reason or another.

The reason some are beginning to suspect that Google is planning a Chrome OS tablet is a simple change in the latest dev release of Chrome OS. The new release includes the ability to rotate the display, a feature that would not be useful at all on a laptop. It would, though, make quite a bit of sense if the software were running on a tablet. Thanks to the Chromebook Pixel, the OS already supports touchscreens, and the OS is even likely to become more Android-like in terms of navigation. Since we know from Eric Schmidt that Chrome and Android won’t be merging in the immediate future, it seems reasonable to think that perhaps these developments point to the fact that Chrome OS will soon be running on tablet hardware, although we have no idea what that hardware might be.

For the same reasons that an Android-based laptop would be a terrible idea, a Chrome OS tablet that only runs Chrome and is in direct competition with Android would also be a bad move.

However, there is another reason that Google might add touch features to Chrome OS: This is purely speculation, but since a dedicated Chrome OS tablet would be pointless, I think Google might instead offer a tablet that dual boots both Chrome OS and Android. This wouldn’t be a “merge” of the two platforms, but would allow them to work together. A tablet with both OSs, as well as a keyboard dock, could be billed as a productivity machine and media device. To me, an ASUS Transformer-like device that runs Chrome OS with the keyboard connected and Android as a tablet could actually make a lot of sense. It would be the best of both worlds, and a combination of Google’s two similar platforms that would compliment, instead of compete with, each other.

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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