If there’s one thing that the industry has been telling us for a long time, it’s that touch is the future of input. Not only have we seen it revolutionize our cell phones but we’re now seeing touchscreens take a bigger role in the computer industry. For instance, All-in-One computers with Windows 8 are a prime target for touch but, and touchscren laptops are starting to become common. In fact, Intel at this year’s CES, detailed a change to their Ultrabook spec and demanded that if OEMs want to call their laptops “Ultrabooks” they must include touchscreens.
We’ve heard rumors of a Chrome OS tablet before and while that didn’t bare fruit, there are fresh rumors making the rounds that Google has been working hard on devices running Chrome OS that support touch input. The Wall Street Journal have “sources familiar” that seem to have it on good authority that Google has already got devices in the pipeline, ready for release later this year. It’s no secret that this will be to compete with Windows 8, Google and Microsoft have been at each other’s throat for a while now and with more and more people relying on the web, Google’s Chrome OS poses Microsoft a real threat. Both HP and Lenovo have come out in support of the OS as well, companies that used to be stalwarts of the Windows Operating System.
Now, before you read this and think “This must be the singularity that will bring Android and Chrome OS together!”, it isn’t. Not only have Google come out and said that they’re more than happy in having two operating systems out there but, Chrome OS and Android aren’t anywhere near as close as you might think. Just because you might use them the same, doesn’t mean they are the same. For one thing, Chrome OS is a lot more like a full Linux distribution and it’s far more powerful than Android. Sure, Android apps on Chrome OS would be good, the web can’t do everything just yet but, using Chrome on a Chrome OS device is far more advanced than it is on Android.
If Google were to market Chrome OS devices – whether they be tablets or Chromebooks – they will need to get some application development behind things, with NaCl (Native Client), they could deliver some brilliant applications but, without the support new devices would be doomed to swipe through a poorly optimized web. Having said that, HTML5 applications could provide a decent enough interface for touchscreens and I for one wouldn’t mind having a second input method when browsing the web.
A hybrid type of device might be on the cards as well but, then the problem of competing almost directly with the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 tablets comes in and, I don’t think even Google are that crazy. Chrome OS has taken it’s own identity in the last year or so, and I see no reason why a touchscreen Chrome OS wouldn’t work in the market. Priced lower than Windows 8 ultrabooks and laptops, it would appeal to a great many people that need nothing more than good web performance in a laptop. Development on Chrome OS is no big secret and there’s evidence in the code to suggest that touchscreens are coming to Chrome OS. In the latest Development releases of the OS, there are more options relating to touch than you might think, including wholesale support for a touchscreen.
What do you think about Google’s Chrome OS support touch? Would you like to use a touchscreen Chromebook?