Google Brings Chrome OS to Tablets

Posted on March 26, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 42 Comments

Google Brings Chrome OS to Tablets

Google announced today what many have suspected since the Pixelbook release: It will now rely on Chrome OS, and not Android, for its tablets efforts. And the first Chrome-based tablet, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, will soon become available to education customers.

“Schools choose Chromebooks because they are fast, easy-to-use and manage, shareable, secure and affordable,” Google’s Cyrus Mistry explains. “We’ve listened carefully to feedback from educators around the world, and one common theme is that they want all the benefits of Chromebooks in a tablet form.”

While it’s hard to know the order in which these things happened, the ability to use Chromebooks in tablet form would obviously be semi-pointless without the addition of Android app support and the Google Play Store.

As for the device itself, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 provides A 9.7-inch IPS display running at 2048 x 1536 (QXGA), and it supports a Wacom EMR stylus for writing and drawing. It provides 9 hours of battery life, Acer says, and will cost $329 in the U.S.

“The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 combines advances in hardware and application support to enable more meaningful learning for an even wider range of K-12 students,” says Acer general manager James Lin. “The new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 encourages students to discover new ways of understanding the world around them.”

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 begins shipping in April.

My guess is that we’ll see non-education Chromebook tablets, including a Google Pixel-branded device, later in 2018.

 

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Comments (43)

43 responses to “Google Brings Chrome OS to Tablets”

  1. RM

    Google's way of keeping other competing browsers off some more computers.

  2. Jorge Garcia

    Oh brother. There's nothing abhorrently wrong with this move, but for me it's just one more step in the opposite direction of where Google should be heading. I know I'm obnoxious AF - but what is needed is for Android to be on laptops/desktops; not ChromeOS on tablets. OK, for schools, I get it, ChromeOS is much more secure and easier to maintain that Android...but for everybody else there needs to be a Google-approved windowed version of Android that plays (more or less) well with a trackpad, mouse and keyboard while maintaining all the benefits of touch (Not impossible to do: see LeenaOS/RemixOS/PhoenixOS/Sentio/Dex).

    • Waethorn

      In reply to JG1170:

      Android isn't a desktop OS. The apps are not desktop apps - they are mobile apps. Google's main productivity platform is the web.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to Waethorn:

        I KNOW THIS. It's about normal people being able to better (and more comfortably) manipulate their beloved mobile apps with a clam-shell screen and a keyboard, or with a desk, a chair, a monitor, and a mouse. I know this setup sounds stupid to us, but I know of MANY people who would happily use their mobile apps in the more comfortable form-factors afforded to them by a laptop and/or desktop All-in-One. I can easily envision normal people (idiots, sure) sitting at a desk with three "mobile apps" open at the same time on a "desktop".

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to JG1170:

      Android on netbooks, maybe. Android on desktops, why? What conceivable benefit would Android provide on immobile computers which every other OS wouldn't?

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        And yes, I know ChomeOS -hackishly- handles Android Apps now, and that fact will negate most of my clamoring, but in my opinion that is still not the ideal solution as ChromeOS is ITSELF too complicated for many to peel themselves away from their smartphone. A basic Android (or iOS) desktop experience with basic windowing would be perfect for so many humans, of that I am sure.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to JG1170:

          . . . as ChromeOS is ITSELF too complicated for many to peel themselves away from their smartphone . . .

          If Chrome OS on laptop or desktop hardware is too complicated, how would Android running on such hardware and able to run multiple apps on the screen at the same time be much easier?

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        It's about normal people being able to better (and more comfortably) manipulate their beloved mobile apps with a clam-shell screen and a keyboard, or with a desk, a chair, a monitor, and a mouse. I know this setup sounds stupid to us, but I know of MANY people who would happily use their mobile apps in the more comfortable form-factors afforded to them by a laptop and/or desktop All-in-One. I can easily envision normal people (idiots, sure) sitting at a desk with three "mobile apps" open at the same time on a "desktop".

  3. ids

    good luck with running Android apps. The experiance is terrible on one of Googles Chromebooks..... let alone a cheap tablet. not the way forward IMHO

  4. Waethorn

    I think this is a great idea. Teach kids to write, not just to push buttons.


    Too few kids can even sign their own name on a contract these days.

  5. Waethorn

    "The ability to use Chromebooks in tablet form would obviously be semi-pointless without the addition of Android app support and the Google Play Store"


    So, since the Windows Store is a failure, that makes the Surface tablet pointless for the same reason.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Read the linked Google blog post qua press release. No mention of Android. The speculation this only makes sense with Android apps comes from Paul Thurrott, not Google.

      If Chromebooks are useful without Android apps (FWLIW, what I believe to be the case, and evidence would suggest has been the case in the US primary and secondary education sectors), Chrome OS tablets (Chromelets? Chrometabs?) might be useful. The linked article does mention these come with and can use a stylus, so it's not entirely finger interactions.

      I had wondered whether there'd be tablets using Chrome OS. If most of what one were using a tablet for was browsing or content consumption from web apps, Chrome OS would be adequate. Also, Chrome OS may be more flexible than Android for developers (speculation, I know a little about Chrome OS, far less about Android).

  6. fbman

    Schools choose Chromebooks because they are fast, easy-to-use and manage, shareable, secure and affordable"



    Let me fix that - US Schools choose Chromebooks because they are fast, easy-to-use and manage, shareable, secure and affordable"


    The rest of the world pretty much rejected chrome books. Chromebooks is a US success story.


    • Waethorn

      In reply to fbman:

      Not so. Lots of Canadian schools are taking them up now too. I believe I read somewhere that one of the Nordic countries in Europe has also adopted them.


      And besides, lots of stuff that is "a Microsoft success" never even sees the light of day in the rest of the world - not even in Canada. In fact, most of Microsoft's failures were of that lot. Only the internationally-released products stand a chance of success with Microsoft. That Google has saturated mostly a single market with a huge success just shows how much further ahead they are.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to fbman:

      In addition to Canada, New Zealand is also beginning to use significant numbers of Chromebooks in education. And I've seen an article mentioning Sweden is beginning to use them.

  7. colin79666

    This could be the final nail in the coffin for iPad in schools. Suddenly the Apple announcement tomorrow becomes more important. Management of iPads at scale requires expensive 3rd party MDM and iPads just don't work well in a shared device environment as they are designed as a 1-1 device.


    If Chrome OS tablets stick with the Chromebook management model (basically free with GSuite) then this should grab all the mobile device education market.

  8. Irving Park

    Google should focus on making Android a better tablet platform. Or else release so called "Andromeda" to fill this nitch.

    "Andromeda" will be an uphill battle unless it runs Android apps out of the gate.

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to Irving Park:

      After all the trouble Google just had retroactively "hacking" APK support onto ChromeOS, I would imagine that ANY forthcoming project/interface/OS out of Mountain View is being designed with Android app compatibility in mind. Anything else would be a non-starter at this point. I personally believe that project Fuchsia will be Google's "One OS to rule them all" in that it will work on a desktop and a mobile device alike, support Android apps fully, all the while having a proprietary Kernel that is not based on Linux. There is no way that Microsoft isn't terrified of project Fuchsia, if not, they should be.

  9. Stooks

    "Schools choose Chromebooks because they are fast, easy-to-use and manage, shareable, secure and affordable"


    Schools use Chromebook first and foremost because they are dirt cheap and then because the Google software is completely free. That sums up 98% of the reason. All the other stuff, easy to manage, shareable, secure etc....make up 2% of the reason.


    Microsoft gives great discounts on software and services (Exchange/Onedrive) for education but they still charge something like $10 a student per year or more for their software and services, which is incredibly discounted over corporate prices but say you have 1000 students that is still $10,000 year you would not be spending on the Google solution.


    I personally hate Chromebooks so a Chromebook tablet without a keyboard is going to be less popular with me.

    • Waethorn

      In reply to Stooks:

      You completely discount the management part, which schools love. First, you don't have to be a dude-named-Ben to set up Google Classroom. Second, when you purchase Chrome OS devices through education resellers (or the Google shopping page for the same), you get device management licenses included in the cost, so you know the price up front (if you buy enterprise devices from a LAR, you'll get the same price structure). Third, you don't need AD. Fourth, you can set up all the Google management stuff through a web browser on any computer. Fifth, you don't need AD.

  10. JacobTheDev

    I hope these are actually decent as tablets. In my experience using a browser on a touch screen is rarely a pleasant experience. How far has Android app support come on Chrome OS, is it actually stable and usable?

  11. Daekar

    Why in the hell would they want a tablet device without a keyboard for education? Who is making these purchase reqs, the county HR directors or something? They'd be darn-near useless for students.

  12. Sprtfan

    Not surprised that they came out with a Chromebook tablet, just surprised it will cost more than an iPad. (or at least more than the expected $259 that is supposed to be announced tomorrow)

  13. Jeff Jones

    I hope they'll have a few 8" tablet options at some point or a tablet under half a pound that can be used for books.

  14. hrlngrv

    4:3 aspect ratio. With so many squarer screen tablets, why aren't there more netbooks with squarer screens?


    OTOH, “The new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 encourages students to discover new ways of understanding the world around them.” is purest marketing BS.

  15. beckerrt

    Yet another way Android is the new Windows: Windows can't break away from the desktop, Android can't break away from the smartphone.

  16. red.radar

    I am not certain this solves any of the issues of Android apps on tablets.


    The announcement seems to only solve the onface issue of management of tablets. Perhaps this is to prempt what Apple announces tomorrow not the other way around?


    We will know more after Apple announces their move.


    • Jeffery Commaroto

      In reply to red.radar:

      Same. The argument is likely that a school considering buying both an iPad and a Chromebook will consider buying a Chromebook and one of these. Yet you already have the Chromebook and that machine should be able to run Android apps if it is newer. Option 3 is you buy a Chromebook that is a 2-in-1 with a pen like the Samsung. You get a keyboard, touchscreen, pen for less than the cost of a Chromebook and this.

  17. cayo

    Like this is going to help them... Even the cash-strapped US schools (the only Chromebook customers) won't buy these tablets.

  18. rameshthanikodi

    Amazing. I actually see this as a win for Microsoft's vision. Tablets should be PCs with a desktop OS, not a scaled-up mobile OS.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Semantics quibble: tablets aren't mobile? Scaled-up phone OS.

      I agree. Tablets should have more capable OSes.

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      I get what you mean, but disagree in that I feel both of the computing routes you describe are perfectly valid. Remember that Paul often laments that Microsoft's current vision seems to be to slowly evolve Windows into mobile again, kind of searching for the back door to mobile as they had the front one all but slammed in their face. IMO this is a good move as to not do so would be suicide, given that everything is heading towards "easier" computing for the end user. I think full windows on tablets a-la the surface line are just fine and should continue indefinitely, but I would not be at all opposed to them ALSO ALSO ALSO selling a nice Microsoft tablet running good-old Windows Mobile (In fact, a few of these WinMo-only tablets were acually prototyped and showed off at conventions by some OEMs a few years ago, then sadly disappeared). Almost all store apps are already perfectly suitable for a 7-10" touch screen, and I'm sure it would not be too hard to scale up Windows Mobile just a bit. The thing that would keep something like this from getting any traction of course is the same thing as before...the mobile App Gap. I guess you can already kind of get around this by just keeping Windows 10 in tablet mode all the time, but something just feels a little wrong about this (to me).

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to JG1170:

        . . . Almost all store apps are already perfectly suitable for a 7-10" touch screen . . .

        Define store apps. If you mean including packaged desktop software, I wouldn't want to try running Office or Krita on a 7" screen. If you mean only UWP software, the real question is whether UWP apps are too insipid on 24" screens.

        I figure it's telling that no major OEMs have bothered to try making sub-8" tablets running Windows 10 Mobile, and good ol' MSFT theoretically prohibiting it on tablets with 8" or larger screens.

        Also telling that there's more than a dozen 3rd party replacements for the Windows 7 (or earlier) Start menu but no 3rd party replacements for Windows 8-like Start screen. Sure seems ISVs don't believe in Windows as a tablet OS, only as a tablet PC OS.

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