While working looking all over for info on Google’s upcoming Nexus Pixel Phones, I’ve become convinced that these phones will not run Chrome OS as some have posited.
We had an article a bit back talking about this very subject and how we felt pretty sure that Chrome OS would not be powering the new Pixel phones, but wanted to leave the door open a bit.
Now we are quite certain.
If you’ve been around this site for any length of time, you’ve surely noticed that we spend lots of time talking about upcoming devices. We find this info by spending slightly ridiculous amounts of time scouring the Chromium repositories. Hey, we love this stuff!
Anyway, we keep a regular, daily eye on new boards and devices so that we can deliver what we see to our readers. Guess what we haven’t seen anything about…
A phone or tablet.
Not once anywhere.
This is probably proof-positive that we aren’t going to see a Chrome OS phone anytime soon, but lets look at a few other points.
The state of Android Apps on Chromebooks isn’t out of Beta yet. Quite literally, the Play Store function didn’t make it to the Stable Channel along with Chrome OS 53. Just recently, Brandon Lall pointed to the Chromium Code Review which shows this:
[ARC] Add “(beta)” string to Play Store.
– Add (beta) at the end of header of chrome://settings section that says “Google Play Store”
– Add (beta) to Play Store icon in launcher
Note: This change is only for M53 and will be reverted on Tot after being merged to M53.
What we’re seeing here is that a Beta label will accompany the Play Store and Android App settings on Chrome OS for the time being. So, even if we see the Play Store on Chromebooks – any Chromebooks – in the Stable Channel soon, it looks like the Android functionality will remain a Beta element for now.
Which begs the question: if they haven’t sorted this on the Chromebooks they’ve been working on for a few months now, how in the world would Google have this functioning well enough to launch a phone in a month?
Answer: they wouldn’t.
Lastly, let’s consider how we use our phones. They are commodities. Functional extensions of ourselves. Smartphones are no longer relegated to experimental tech. When you buy a smartphone, the main expectation is that it works. Just works. It is why companies like Apple and Samsung have begun simply iterating on their designs and features, not innovating so much.
People are less and less worried about having the latest novelty feature (even Samsung has finally seemed to get this through their collective heads) and more and more concerned with the phone working as expected. Make calls, send text and IMs, take great photos, be fast, durable, well-constructed with great connectivity and battery life. None of this is revolutionary or sexy, but I would guarantee that if you polled a large group of people, advancements in these areas would top their lists.
Phones are not the status symbol they once were. They are regular. Expected.
And this is why a still-janky dual-OS setup won’t ship on any phone by Google or anyone else in the next month or two. It is simply too soon and too experimental. Especially for a segment of tech that has become so central to people’s everyday life. Features be damned: your phone simply needs to work when you need it too.
And, for the time being, Android apps on Chrome OS aren’t there yet.
This doesn’t stop me from dreaming about the delicious possibility of a real desktop OS on my phone that is capable of running my favorite phone-sized apps. I’m working on that article, so I’m a believer. And I think there are use-cases we’ve not even imagined yet for Chrome OS and Android.
I’m just here to say that right now, the 2016 Nexus Pixel phones will be running Android, and that’s not a bad thing. For now.