A long-rumored Google project that would combine Android and Chrome OS into a single platform has allegedly been scrapped. What does this mean for the future?
The future is impossible to see, as Yoda once observed. And when it comes to Andromeda, even the past is a bit fuzzy: This project, never publicly acknowledged by Google, had a grand aim in an era in which other client platform makers like Microsoft and Apple are adding complexity to their lineups. But the truth is, we never really knew what Andromeda was.
Most rumors pegged it as a single new OS that could replace both Android and Chrome OS, something that combined the best of both into a cohesive whole. When Google announced Android apps running on top of Chrome OS last year, most saw that as a half-step to the Andromeda future, a way to test the waters of Android/Chrome OS interoperability.
A year later, we know that those efforts have gone poorly. And that Google has had a much harder time than it expected just getting Android apps running on Chrome OS. Perhaps Andromeda was an even more daunting problem.
As recently as last fall, I was openly wondering whether Google was on the cusp of actually announcing Andromeda and its plans for getting customers from two separate platforms onto this new thing. In my defense, we didn’t yet know that Android apps on Chrome OS were a complete disaster.
“The pieces are all in place,” I wrote at the time. “Structurally within Google. And architecturally within the products themselves. It’s what Microsoft finally did with Windows 10, whereas it had previously developed Windows for PCs and Windows phone separately.”
As it turns out, the pieces have apparently been scattered to the wind. This week, 9to5 Google’s Stephen Hall tweeted that multiple sources have now told him that Andromeda, whatever it is, has been killed.
So yeah, got a second source on this now: Andromeda was shelved. Some of the work being moved to other things, though. Trying to learn more.
In other tweets, Hall explains that Andromeda was real.
Andromeda was absolutely real. It was Android-based and sought to bring Android to different form factors. Google was preparing hardware … Hardware like “Bison” laptop, Huawei Nexus 7 tablet, others we never heard about. Assuming all shelved this point, but work won’t be wasted.
Hall also points to the obvious successor for Andromeda in a follow-up tweet.
Fuchsia, a separate project that you are all aware of by now, is not dead and effectively serves as Andromeda’s spiritual successor.
Ah yes, Fuchsia.
This one is interesting because Google has, in fact, admitted that Fuchsia is real. And we know a few things about this project: Like Android and Chrome OS, it’s a client operating system, and based on recent screenshots, it appears to be a successor to Android. Which, when you think about it, was the point of Andromeda as well.
If I had to guess—and I do—Google’s bad experiences with Android apps on Chrome OS have likely influenced its view of the future. And rather than meld these two things together, it will do what it should have always done: Base the future on Android, not Chrome OS. Because it’s much easier to add a full-featured web browser to a mobile OS than it is to run mobile apps on top of a web browser.
It seems rather obvious in retrospect. But then, this was my complaint when Google announced Chrome OS in the first place.
So we’ll see what happens. Just don’t hold your breath looking for answers. It’s now clear that Google’s future ambitions have been thwarted by reality, and it will be a while before it can move to the next big thing.