It’s been quite some time since we’ve mentioned this subject here at Chrome Unboxed. Just in case you missed it, you can find Robby’s detailed argument about this phantom operating system here.
To sum up, Andromeda is(or more accurately is rumored to be) a secret OS that Google has been developing that would essentially “fold Chrome OS into Android.” Last year, before Google’s 10/4 hardware showcase, the rumor mill was working so hard many outlets would have had you believe that Chrome OS and Android as we know were about to cease to exist entirely.
Then, nothing. 10/4 came and went with no mention of Andromeda. No new tablet with the “next big thing” operating system and soon after, Andromeda was barely more than a jovial memory of yet another vaporware. Now, for some unknown reason, the Andromeda-train has picked up steam again and has left the station for another trip.
I’ll be honest, I have a general disdain for this whole subject. If you were to ask any of my colleagues you would know that, to this day, I still make Andromeda references with the utmost amount of cynicism, sarcasm and even contempt.
With that being said, I can’t promise I won’t rant a bit here. But hey, it’s my opinion. I just wanted to clear the air a little bit about this whole subject and maybe help extract a few facts from the insurmountable amount of empty theories about Andromeda.
By the way, if I end up being completely wrong, I’ll own that. I’ve been wrong at least twice before in my life so I’m ok with it. Google has a history of throwing curveballs, making u-turns and flat out blind-siding users on their developmental road map. If, at some point, Alphabet decided to shift into Florida orange juice market I can’t say I’d be 100% surprised. I say that in jest but come on, you and I both know Google keeps us guessing.
Enough of my ramblings. Let’s look at some facts or lack there of.
If you took the time to check out Robby’s article in the link up top you would have read how this all started from one, unsubstantiated rumor from a 2015 Wall Street Journal article. From there Andromeda began to spread like wild fire. The ironic part about it is that what the WSJ was speculating about sounded very, very similar to what happened at Google I/O in May of 2016. A merger of Chrome OS and Android.
The WSJ article came out in October of 2015. Seven months later at I/O we see the announcement of Android Apps coming to Chromebooks. Not only was this unveiled but the video in the link above shows a working scenario of the Play Store on Chrome OS. I’m no developer but if Android on Chrome OS was already functioning at this point, chances are good the project had been in the works for at least a year. Kind of a weird timeline if Andromeda was really a new, separate “thing” slated to replace the current ecosystem.
Or, perhaps Andromeda was just the codename for what we are now seeing with the implementation of Android and Chrome OS working together. Maybe the process of “folding” the systems together proved more cumbersome than expected and developers decided to go a different direction.
Who knows? Only Google at this point.
It has now been a year and a half since the first rumor of Andromeda reared its ugly head and in that length of time here is everything we know about the “upcoming” operating system.
Nothing. That’s right. Aside from the speculations that it would replace, reform or eradicate Android and Chrome OS, there isn’t one single, solitary shred of evidence that the operating system ever existed to begin with. I’m not saying it didn’t but I’m not saying it did, either.
The ONLY proof of anything associated with Andromeda as it relates to Android or Chrome OS is the Andromeda Box Platform which is used to develop IoT smart devices using the Android Things embedded OS. Hardware, not software.
The Big Picture
Now let’s take a look at what has transpired in the almost year since Google I/O and the announcement of the Play Store coming to Chrome OS.
Last year the Chromebook community was all abuzz about Acer’s release of the convertible Chromebook R13, the first Chrome OS device “designed with Android Apps in mind.” There wasn’t a lot of consumer flare around this device but then again, inside the Chrome OS community it wasn’t needed. The Play Store on a Chrome device hadn’t really attained public awareness at that point. Yet, despite a somewhat lackluster release, the Acer R13 continues to hold its own as a very popular device.
Then there was ‘Kevin’ or as you may be familiar with it, the Samsung Chromebook Plus. Revealed officially at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Samsung spared no expense on this bad boy. They even went so far as to include the Plus/Pro in their main press conference which is a first for any Chromebook.
Samsung does a lot of things and they do a lot of things well. One thing they for sure know how to do is market products. We’re talking about a company that had one of the biggest smartphone fiascos in recent history that eventually resulted in the total recall of the Note 7. Guess what? Samsung still posted record earnings in the 4th quarter of 2016.
Sure, Samsung has had some failures. But, they also invest heavily in their products with the anticipation of a profitable return. The Chromebook Plus/Pro are no exception. Samsung has spared no expense in designing or marketing these products. Upon the Pro’s release next month we can anticipate a full-frontal campaign to get these devices in the hands of consumers.
Doesn’t sound to me like a product that’s going to be pushed aside by some “new” OS. In fact, Google has partnered hand-in-hand with Samsung every step of the way. As temperamental as Google may be in releasing and ending products, unveiling Andromeda as a new operating system would go directly against their new found identity as an OEM as well as being a kick in the teeth of so many manufacturers who are going all in on Chromebooks with Android Apps.
The End Game
In the past weeks and months we have and continue to see the announcement, release, development and rumors of more and more Chrome devices. The snowball is rolling down the side of the mountain and it’s moving faster and growing exponentially.
With marketing dollars in tow and consumer awareness on the rise, Chromebooks have just begun to come into themselves. The full roll-out of the Play Store for Chrome OS is on the horizon and OEM’s are gearing up to take advantage of the new found market.
The wide spread use of Chromebooks in the education market is continuing to expand to the retail landscape and Google is making their push with a full-fledged product department.
To sum up, I’m going to place Andromeda in the pile of “stuff that never was.” Additionally, as far as the rumor-mill churning again, I think it’s no coincidence it’s happening just a few weeks prior to Google’s next I/O event. Just saying.
That’s my two cents. If you disagree, that’s okay. We can still be friends because at the end of the day, it’s all just stuff. Right?