In the last couple of years Google has grown into a gigantic company involved in numerous projects, among its success stories are: Android and Chrome OS. If Android is an OS mainly used for smartphones, Chrome is Google’s operating system for netbooks. I’m sure that by now most of you have heard or own a smartphone running Android, and are eager to find out how the Chrome netbook will look like.
Chrome OS is mainly a “browser in a box”. This means that there is no locally installed piece of software, Chrome OS relaying mostly on the cloud and on Web applications. To make some light into this matter: the cloud is a virtual place where all your information is safely stored without having the need to save it on your hard drive. The plus is that your laptop/netbook becomes more lightweight, while the downside is that without an Internet connection you can’t access your information (documents, pieces of software, etc).
The main advantage that Chrome OS has to offer is space: no need to install a piece of software on your laptop, you can access it immediately on Internet. The biggest limitation is that without an Internet connection, Chrome OS can’t really be of any help.
In terms of UI, Chrome OS tries to take up minimal screen space, by merging the traditional application with the Web pages into one tab. When it comes to security, things are not that simple. Chrome OS benefits of auto-updating and sandboxes which should keep the malware away. Also, it was said that Chrome netbooks will come with “Trusted Platform Module”, which will have a “trusted bootpath” and a “Developer mode which can be activated by an actual switch. Also, being an open source, Chrome OS will benefit from constant updates in terms of security.
On the other hand, Android is the main competitor of iPhone OS and one of the most popular operating systems for mobile devices: smartphones and tablets. The latest version of Android 3.0 integrates numerous functionalities, becoming a multi-purpose platform which aims for both the smartphone and the table market. Even more, it comes with a fresh UI framework compatible with various devices (larger screens and USB keyboards), and brings in multicore processors, plus accelerated 2D & 3D graphics.
With a large community of developers who write apps (more than 200,000), Android succeeds to extend the functionalities of the devices and to add extra features. Of course all the devices that Android runs on need to be certified by Google and to follow the “Compatibility Definition Document” (CDD).
The Android versions released so far are in chronological order: Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb (a tablet OS) and Ice Cream Sandwich (a merge between Gingerbread and Honeycomb) which will be released in Q4 of 2011.
Although Google was accused by Microsoft, more exactly by Steve Ballmer of “not being able to make up its mind” having two OS, Google answered in return that the two operating systems (Android and Chrome OS) serve distinct markets: the mobile and the personal computing. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, added that Android and Chrome “will likely converge over time”, but for the time being this is not Google’s goal. Until the two markets will merge why not offer consumers the best out of the two worlds?