The case for a Chrome-Android convergence

A new Android mascot is looming large on Google's campus, and it's attracting more than the usual amount of attention.

As Engadget notes, the mascot appears to be made out of chrome. Is this is a sign of greater convergence between the Android operating system and the Chrome Web browser, or just a silly coincidence?

All symbolism aside, there are signs that these two Google products are melding together in new ways.

On the desktop, Chrome may eventually include notifications from Google Now, the virtual assistant that runs on Android 4.1 or higher. In fact, the latest build of Chromium, the open source project behind Chrome, includes a new Notification Center that would be the perfect place for these types of alerts.

On Android, Chrome is now the official stock browser for phones running Android 4.1 and higher, and lately the browser has started to resemble its desktop counterpart more closely. A new beta version of Chrome for Android, which launched in January, includes optional WebGL support, allowing the mobile browser to render 3D graphics. It's a step toward delivering a desktop-like browsing experience to phones and tablets.

What does all this mean? The extreme view would be that Google is working toward combining Android and Chrome, for instance by bringing Android apps to the Chrome browser, or by bringing a full desktop browsing experience to Android tablets. There are, after all, rumors of a touchscreen Chromebook, which would make a lot more sense if it could run more than just Web apps.

Samsung Chromebook and Chromebox

The reality, at least in the short term, is simpler. As Linus Upson, Google's vice president of engineering, told TechRadarlast year, desktops and laptops have very different uses than phones and tablets, so you need different solutions for both.

“Apple doesn't try to smash the two together and we're not trying to do it, but in time there will be a seamless user experience across all the devices,” Upson said.

Therein lies the key. Just like how Apple has brought some iOS features over to Mac – things like Notification Center, Game Center and AirPlay – Google is trying to build a consistent experience across devices, so no matter where you are, it just feels like you're using Google.

Maybe that's what the chrome-colored Android mascot is really trying to say. Or maybe someone at Google just liked the color.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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