Mittwoch, 25. April 2012

ChromeOS for mobile devices

I'm quite a fan of Google and most of the Google products. I love Chrome, which is my default browser on my Mac and I like Android, which is OS of my mobile. When I heard of the ChromeOS for the first time I was intrigued by the concept, because it is so radical different, from what we have today, but on the other side it is very logical consequence of our shift from desktop applications to browser-based ones. Still is requires a courageous mind shift, to cut the rope of being able to download and start a Windows or Mac application and fully trust that there is a replacement application on the web, which provides the same possibilities. Also it is kind of scary for road warriors to use browser based apps and being dependant on ubiquitous net-access. Sure, Google tries to make their apps working offline as well, but this is just beginning, the question is how many other browser-based apps will offer this possibility as well. That means ChromeOS is suited best for strictly defined working environments, better not on the road. Which brings me to the question, why are there only notebooks available with this system?

But anyway, I don't have figures how well ChromeOS is selling. But here is a suggestion how ChromeOS could become the most successful desktopOS. Motorola showed already a mobile phone with Linux desktop (Atrix). The idea is that a mobile phone can be connected via HDMI to a monitor and via USB or bluetooth to keyboard and mouse. As soon as connection to monitor is detected, desktop Linux distribution starts on Android kernel. All of the data like contacts, emails can be shared with Android. The concept of Motorola headed in the right direction, but there were some rough edges, like outdated software preinstalled, and the update process was quite cumbersome. In March Ubuntu announced a distribution, which can be preinstalled by phone manufactures on their phones. The concept is the same as with Motorola phone, but the Ubuntu distribution is famous for its user-friendliness. So far I'm not aware of any phone, which uses Ubuntu, but I guess this is just a question of time.

The concept of turning mobile phone into a full-fledged computer is certainly intriguing. But even compared with a simple netbook a mobile phone ofter lacks required amount of storage capacity for the programs and for the data. Also there is a question how to synchronise this device with the main computer. That's why a cloud based operating system, where all the data are stored in the cloud and the programs called from the web is the right choice for a desktop mobile device OS. That's where ChromeOS can show its strength. ChromeOS doesn't need lot of memory and processing power, all the programs don't have to be available on the storage medium and all the data is saved in the cloud. Places where a monitor and a mouse are available, should have at least WI-FI connection available as well. One important fact is of course that ChromeOS is already available for ARM processors, so most of the mobiles should be able to run it right now. So ChromeOS running on Android phone would be a perfect matching case, between the requirements of a desktop system and what mobile device is able to provide.

There is already Chrome available on Android 4.0. So let see if Google engineers can extend it, so that it also usable with a desktop station in a desktop mode. It is absolutely imaginable that soon the internet cafes and business-oriented hotels will just provide internet access, monitor, mouse and keyboard, so that business traveler can connect their phone to these devices and continue working. Acer showed already a mobile phone which can be plugged into a tablet, expect mobile phones, which can be plugged in mobile notebooks, without a processor. With modern ARM-processors with several cores mobile devices are able to compute larger amounts of data and execute complex programs written in JavaScript. So since mobile devices are growing on much faster rate than desktop-oriented ones, it can be expected that preinstalled ChromeOS could become the most widespread desktop-oriented OS worldwide.