Well, the time has come to address the elephant in the room.
October has long passed and with it Google’s annual hardware event. As expected, the Pixel Slate, a.k.a. ‘Nocturne’ made its debut. Love it or hate it, the “tablet first” Chromebook #MadeByGoogle is the belle of the ball at the moment and clearly the recipient of much of Google’s developmental attention over the past few months.
So, what about the fabled Pixelbook 2?
No, we didn’t forget about ‘Atlas’, the device we still believe is the successor to Google’s flagship Pixelbook. While we were disappointed at its absence from the Google event in New York, in retrospect it isn’t a big surprise.
Google has big plans for Chrome OS on a tablet and the Slate is the torch bearer for that movement. If our suspicions about the second generation Pixelbook are accurate, bringing it into the mix back in October would only have served to muddy the waters and detract from the Slate’s stage presences.
Then, there’s the timing of it all.
Since the original Chromebook Pixel landed on the scene, Google has put out a new Chromebook roughly every two years. (A little longer for the Pixelbook) At that pace, a second iteration of the convertible device wouldn’t be due until fall of 2019.
Speaking of the original Pixelbook, the case could be made that it is still the best device on the market depending on how much you can pick one up for at any given moment. An 8th-gen Kaby Lake Chromebook from Google could simply be viewed as overkill a mere short year after the original’s release.
Fast forward to Las Vegas, January 2019.
Google showed up in full force at CES this past January with a physical presence unmatched by any other year in the trade shows history. An outsider perusing the massive event could possibly have gotten the impression that Google was hosting the entire shindig.
They were everywhere.
Not only were they highlighting their own AI driven products such as the Google Home line, but they also featured products from hundreds of partners that have hopped on the Assistant bandwagon.
Everywhere you looked, it was Google, Google, Google. Heck, even the monorail was draped in #MadeByGoogle branding for all the world to see.
My point? If our sources and our hunches are correct, the upcoming CES 2019 will be no different.
What better time for Google to slide in a refreshed Pixelbook right in the center of the tech extravaganze for millions of onlookers to see? With Google making the shift to an expanded hardware lineup, debuting a device at CES seems way more likely than doing so at a developer event like I/O as they have done in the past.
While there isn’t a smoking gun that the Chromebook ‘Atlas’ is, in fact, the Pixelbook 2, there sure are a lot of reasons to believe it is. Along with it, there are some tell-tale signs that ‘Atlas’ will soon emerge from hiding.
First, there are some new commits in the Chromium repository that may seem trivial but they point to a device that will soon come to market.
atlas: tweak LED colors
this incorporates feedback from the PD team.
Atlas : audio-config – P2 Audio Tuning Release
Audio tuning and tweaking things like the LED colors are generally line items tended to in the final stages of a device’s development. It is probably that ‘Atlas’ in the last leg of the development cycle as the Chromium team fine tunes it for production.
Then, there’s Crostini. You know, the project that brought Linux apps to Chrome OS?
Below is the list of devices that currently support Crostini.
- atlas (R70)
- banon (R70)
- bob (R69)
- celes (R70)
- coral (R69)
- cyan (R70)
- edgar (R70)
- eve (R69)
- fizz (R69)
- kefka (R70)
- kevin (R69)
- nami (R69)
- nautilus (R69)
- nocturne (R70)
- pyro (R69)
- reef (R69)
- reks (R70)
- relm (R70)
- sand (R69)
- setzer (R70)
- snappy (R69)
- soraka (R69)
- terra (R70)
- ultima (R70)
- wizpig (R70)
Source: Chromium Project Via Dennis L.
The list denotes the Chromebooks by board name and the Chrome OS version in which they received support for Linux apps. As my Chromie pal Denny L. pointed out to me, Atlas is right at the top of the list despite not being a Chromebook available on the market.
That tells me that this Chromebook not only exists but is likely in the hands of any number of developers who are tasked with its creation.
I will concede that any one of these bits of evidence do not solidify the suspicions that a Pixelbook 2 is out there or that we will soon see it. However, there signs overwhelmingly support my theory when you compile them all in one place.
I would like to say that I have an inside scoop that Google will bring ‘Atlas’ to the stage next month in Las Vegas but I do not. I do have a gut feeling that it is highly probable and I will be a bit surprised if that isn’t the case.
We’ll be on the ground at CES 2019 bringing you the latest from the show floor and I sincerely hope that will include another #MadeByGoogle Chrome device or even two.
Until then, we will just have to wait and hope. Stay tuned.