From time to time, Chromebooks we track in the repositories end up taking unexpected shifts or getting scrapped altogether. It’s almost impossible to say why, but things don’t always work out the way we expect them to.
Such is the case – at least in part – with the Chromebook we only know as ‘Cheza’ at this point. What we’ve learned about ‘Cheza’ up to this point is somewhat telling and you can find most everything we know up to this point in this article, including the fact that ‘Cheza’ looks to be a reference device, not a production Chromebook. Add to that the fact that we also have a strong source confirming we won’t see a Snapdragon Chromebook in 2018 and the headline up there starts raising a few eyebrows.
But, rest assured, according to a couple commits from the Chromium Repositories, ‘Cheza’ is getting outfitted with the Google Assistant button and the Pixelbook-style keyboard. Again, the inclusion of these elements in a reference board is curious, so let’s talk about that real quick.
Google Assistant Buttons and Keyboards
If there’s one thing we know at this point, it is the fact that only #madebyGoogle devices possess the dedicated Google Assistant key and the updated Chrome OS keyboard layout.
Back when we discovered this new layout (back when the Pixelbook was just ‘Eve’), it seemed like this would simply be the new keyboard moving forward. Honestly, when the Pixelbook showed up sporting the keyboard we knew was coming, we weren’t shocked at all and fully expected to see 2018 replete with Chromebooks sporting the updated layout.
Instead, we saw NOT ONE CHROMEBOOK with this new setup.
Google keeps some things for itself and its hardware, so this isn’t an odd move: just unexpected. With these exclusive couple features, it has become a bit easier to spot what we believe to be #madebyGoogle Chromebooks in the repositories. We’ve uncovered the fact that ‘Atlas’ and ‘Nocturne’ are likely going to be 2 in-house Google-made Chromebooks from this exact type of information, actually.
The main difference? Those development boards are listed as Chromebooks, not reference devices.
Is ‘Cheza’ #madebyGoogle?
In short, I don’t think so. However, there are some serious caveats to that simple statement.
First, previous Google-made Chromebooks were one codename with no reference devices. The Chromebook Pixel, 2015 Chromebook Pixel and the Pixelbook had codenames but weren’t really based on a reference board first. Those codenames were with them from the start and still show up when you look deep in the settings. They didn’t start as a reference board and then make a transition.
‘Cheza’ is – without doubt – a reference board, so I don’t see it turning a corner and becoming a production device.
Second – and most importantly – I think we could eventually see a #madebyGoogle device spawned from ‘Cheza’. So, even though ‘Cheza’ likely isn’t a #madebyGoogle device, chances are pretty high that this reference board will eventually spawn one.
Assuming Google continues only marketing the Assistant and the new keyboard layout on their own in-house devices, the only conclusion we can draw from their inclusion on ‘Cheza’ at this point is that Google has it’s sights set on a future Snapdragon Chromebook in the Pixelbook family.
As we’ve yet to see any spawns from the original ‘Cheza’ board, I think our 2019 launch timeline is highly likely. Once the reference device is ready for manufacturers to get their hands on, they can begin churning out devices based on it much quicker, but to expect that to happen before the end of the year seems impossible for now.
I’d assume ‘Cheza’ will be equipped with every possible bell and whistle so that any manufacturer – including Google – can pick and choose what to include in their final devices. I still hold to the possibility that we might see ‘Cheza’ as a torch-bearing device at Qualcomm’s booth for CES 2019 in January, but that’s just my gut talking.
Last year, they had a few of the Snapdragon-powered Windows devices there on display, so I could see a simple reference device on-hand at the show as a crowd pleaser for sure. Time will tell, but the unfolding story behind ‘Cheza’ feels like it is really just getting started, so stay tuned and subscribe (in the footer) to keep up with everything we find here at Chrome Unboxed.