The I/O conference earlier this year was enough to establish the strategic shift Google would make towards the development of smarter devices. Though the company’s absolute focus was on its new services that would incorporate a personal artificial intelligent assistant on the lines of Siri called Assistant, on Tuesday the Mountain View based giant turned towards conceptualising of not just services but hardware. In making a shift from its traditional approach of enroping a mobile producer like HTC, Motorola or LG to create a new line of Nexus phones, Google, much like its competitor Apple, conceptualised, designed and created a new brand of smartphones called Pixel. It also announced the launch of home speaker, named Home, powered by Google Assistant to compete with Amazon’s home speaker Echo.
Though it is still recognised as a search engine provider, Google made a shift towards services beyond search and advertising way back in 2007, when it had launched its first Android operating system. The company has since then entered into everything from home automation to virtual and augmented reality systems. While Android is still the market leader—it has 1.4 billion devices and captures 87.6% of the market as compared to Apple’s iOS share 11.9%—the Nexus line of phones hasn’t taken off as expected. But Google expects that to change with Pixel. The company is offering a better optimised system and higher performance specs with Pixel, along with features like unlimited storage. Whether the new gamble from the ‘everything company’ will bring windfall gains is anybody’s guess, given that Apple has a good hold on the market and Samsung despite, its recent exploding Note 7 debacle, is expected to come back strong, but the company will certainly bring a difference once its future plans materialise.
To look at Google’s hardware foray without a peek into its future plans for softwares and services would be a fallacy. Though the company stopped short of launching its new OS for Google run laptops and desktops, this is what is expected to define the future of its parent company Alphabet. The much hyped Andromeda OS, which is expected to take over from Chrome OS is believed to be an amalgamation of Android and Chrome operating systems. Unlike, Apple which runs iOS both on tablets and phones, Google had created two different systems Android for mobile phones and Chrome for Google run-laptops and desktops. But, now the internet giant is thinking of marrying the two.
So, what is Andromeda?
Google launched Chrome OS for laptops and tablets back in 2011 with a hope to target users who wanted fast operating systems with as little clutter as possible. In order to make that happen the company had integrated everything online. While Chrome had a certain array of apps, one could not download and install apps like in Android systems. Moreover, a developer had to create separate systems for both android and chrome in case they wanted to feature on both. The company at its I/O conference, did try to address this by allowing Chrome users to download Android apps, but the whole interface is expected to see a change when Andromeda comes about. In simple terms, Andromeda would bring Chrome’s online functionality to Android so one can rely on apps as well as web functionality for running the device.
How is it revolutionary?
What Google is trying to pull is a Microsoft. The company is banking on integration of all devices much like Windows with a one-stop operating system. Although most reports suggest that Google would run Andromeda on laptops, personal computers and some tablets, the platform may soon evolve into a single system for all its devices, including smartphones. The convergence of systems and their integration would not only benefit the users but also the developers as now they would have to create device agnostic apps which would be optimised for all the versions, saving users much hassle on battery and performance. Also, with the company now producing its own devices like Google Home, OnHub router and smart IoT systems, one can expect a single OS to control everything from laptops, tablets to mobile phones. Moreover, with the single OS, Google may decide to junk all the other devices as now the smartphone can become a desktop with help of a computer screen, mouse and keyboard or can power a laptop.
Google was rumoured to have been working on an OS called Fuchsia which could run on a multitude of devices, though it is not clear whether Andromeda is Fuchsia, but the company has certainly moved closer to that dream. While this may all sound complex, one thing is for sure that Google would try and make things as simple as possible, as is evident from its latest array of apps—Allo and Duo. The company has achieved a convergence in terms of apps as one can now access most features like setting the alarm, searching over the net and booking a cab with use of Maps from Allo, what this hardware and software shift indicates is that it may try to do the same convergence for devices. While this may be a far-off dream where one can control everything with their glasses or smartwatch and a smartphone, initiatives from Microsoft and Google towards convergence suggest that future may not be too far away.