At Google’s hardware event on October 4th, one of the things mentioned on stage that has been largely forgotten is the fact that Snapchat is building a desktop version of their app for the Pixelbook.
That’s kind of a big deal.
We talked a bit over here about some big apps that will hopefully be making their way to the Pixelbook and what that could mean for the platform as a whole.
Though it was talked about on stage, the magnitude of this announcement has only just begun to sink in for me.
Snapchat is among the elite apps in either app store with millions of downloads and millions of users. Though not as large as Facebook or Twitter, Snapchat is a beast in its own right with over 160 million users daily.
With most larger news outlets, bloggers, and vloggers leveraging the platform as well, Snapchat is a substantial service whether you use it or not.
And, up to this point, it has only existed on phones: Android and iOS.
That Is Changing Soon
Unlike Twitter, Facebook and to some extent Instagram, Snapchat has never employed any sort of desktop UI for its users. To be fair, the platform isn’t really in that lane, but as it grows it could be.
And, as the devs over at Snapchat are prepping their first desktop experience, their sites aren’t set on MacOS or Windows. They are aiming for Chrome OS and the Pixelbook.
Matt Vokoun, Director of Product Management for Google, had this to say from stage:
We’re thrilled to announce that the Snap team is working with us to bring an amazing Snapchat experience to the larger screen on Pixelbook.
So, adding to Adobe and (possibly) Microsoft looking to be on-board with getting large-screen, desktop-class apps ready for Pixelbook, Snapchat is working with Google to leverage Pixelbook to bring a large screen experience to its users.
Again, not Microsoft or Apple. Not Windows or MacOS. Google, Pixelbook, Chrome OS, and Android.
What this shows is Google is leveraging Chrome OS and the Pixelbook in a way that is getting big developer attention. Clearly, bringing some sort of desktop experience for Windows or MacOS would be a much larger audience for Snapchat, but they are going a different route.
The question is, why?
And the answer is probably really simple: Android.
Pixelbook & Chrome OS’ Best Weapon
Going back to an argument I made yesterday about target audiences and use-cases, the Pixelbook is going to be marketed at people who are used to full-functioning web browsers, simple devices with touchscreens, and apps.
The ability for Chrome OS to leverage Android (finally) will become its greatest weapon. Developers who already have teams in place that build and maintain Android apps will have far less work ahead of them as they decide to have a big screen presence on the Pixelbook. This, by extension, gives them a big screen presence on all Chromebooks and all users of them.
So, an app like Snapchat can simply be extended and ready for use on the larger screen without the need to rewrite from the ground up for a new platform. That isn’t possible on Windows or MacOS. It’s only possible on Chrome OS.
For Snapchat to do this on a Mac, they would need to write a Mac-specific app to leverage the desktop. No need for Chrome OS. As a matter of fact, you can install Snapchat right now on any Chromebook with Play Store access. Granted, the usability is only so-so, but it can be done.
With a few tweaks and thoughtful UI additions, the experience on Pixelbook will be great and can be reasonably delivered without a whole new app project.
And this is the power of the Chrome OS/Android platform that will be leveraged and marketed properly with Pixelbook.
Only continued partnerships and continued app development for the large screen will keep this going, but the start – even before the Pixelbook release – is enough to make us pretty excited here at Chrome Unboxed. Perhaps this is the beginning of Android on Chromebooks finally, FINALLY coming into its own like we’ve been talking about all along.