Last week, 9to5Google’s Kyle Bradshaw (fellow code diver) uncovered evidence of a third-party keyboard in the works for Chrome OS. While this, in and of itself, is hardly newsworthy. The name attached to the new peripheral device is more than noteworthy.
Add mappings for “Hamburger” and “Assistant” keys on Hammer/Wand/Whiskers
and BRYDGE keyboards.
To take an excerpt from their About Us page:
You wouldn’t put cheap wheels on a Ferrari – why would you clasp a plastic keyboard to the iPad, when you can bond it to a single piece of beautifully honed, solid aluminium?
Obviously, Brydge is all about making premium keyboards for equally premium devices. Apart from a handful of accessories, Brydge currently produces high-end detachable keyboards for only two specific product lines. Those being iPads the Microsoft Surface Pro. Not exactly budget machines.
Seeing their name pop up in the Chromium repository is a huge red flag that someone is preparing to launch a Chrome OS detachable or tablet of the premium sort.
The question is who?
Well, for starters let’s look at the commit again. As it sits, the only device with a dedicated Assistant and/or Hamburger key is the Pixelbook. While we’re confident that the Assistant will eventually become a part of the Chrome OS ecosystem in general, for now, this keyboard setup looks to be reserved for Made by Google Chromebooks.
This, however, is a third-party keyboard. If this is to be a #madebygoogle product, it’s unlikely it would carry the manufacturer’s name.
Unless it was Made for Google.
In case you had forgotten. That is actually a thing. After last year’s hardware launch, Google quietly rolled out the Made for Google website that features premium brands who have partnered with Google to create accessories for the Pixel phone lineup as well as the Pixelbook.
Names like dbrand, Incipio, Belkin and even Kate Spade are among the partners. A name such as Brydge would be right at home on this page.
This is mostly my gut speaking but the pieces just sort of fit together. Google is rumored to have at least two Chrome devices prepped for release at the October 9th event in NYC and we’re very confident one of those will be detachable. Brydge could play into to these new devices in a couple of different ways.
Scenario one, (and this is my hope) Google is making a detachable and Brydge has partnered to release a Made for Google keyboard for users who want to upgrade to the proverbial “Ferrari” on their new Chromebook.
Scenario two, (less palatable but very plausible) Google is launching a detachable device and like Microsoft’s Surface Pro will sell the keyboard separately. Being that Brydge doesn’t currently sell their keyboards in this manner, I really hope this isn’t the case.
And scenario number three. Brydge has taken an interest in the premium Chromebook market and they are simply preparing to take advantage of emerging tech and premium buyers. I think this is the least possible situation due to the name that is attached to the commit Kyle unearthed. Mr. Boichat is a Google developer and he has direct contact with some of the inner-most workings of Chrome OS as well as the Pixelbook devices.
My guess is that Google approached Brydge to collaborate on some new, premium hardware to continue driving home their hardware initiative. That’s just my two cents worth. Any way you slice it, we’ll know soon enough when October 9th arrives.