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Developer Build Of Chrome OS Adds “Screen Rotation”; What Could Google Be Up To?

April 26, 2013 - Written By Joe Levin

Ask anyone at Google and they will tell you until they are blue in the face that Chrome OS and Android are separate entities built for their respective form factors. Sure most every Android phone or tablet can run the chrome browser and get the suite of services like password, web page, and bookmark syncing, and there are those netbooks you see on ebay running Ice Cream Sandwich, but for the most part you know that when you pick up a Google tablet it’s going to be running Android the same way you know that a Chromebook is running Chrome OS. Even with the newest Chromebook Pixel, it has that touch screen but it’s still a laptop.

It’s clear that Google has purposely kept the two separate and has denied that they will ever come together even as evidence starts showing otherwise. The latest developer build of Chrome OS shows that it supports “screen rotation”. The funky action was first noticed in the release notes of the build by one of the guys over at Gigaom, but the build was pulled because of a bug so the screen rotation was never able to be tested.

Now that’s a pretty strange feature to be adding to a notebook. Granted I’m still rocking a CR-48 but even if it had a touchscreen like a Pixel it would be awkward as all hell to hold sideways to use. Maybe something where the screen itself would rotate somehow or even fold all the way back in order to change it’s form factor completely? Both of those options would make the Chromebook a bit too unwieldy though so it has to be something else right?

The most obvious answer would be a tablet, but it wouldn’t make sense to put out a Chrome tablet when they are about to introduce the followup to the Nexus 7 at the upcoming Google I/O, so it could be some sort of hybrid in the style of a Microsoft surface. The only problem that I see is that while Chrome OS is slowly developing a touchscreen interface it’s nowhere near as advanced as Jelly Bean, or Key Lime Pie by the time they announce a device that can take advantage to screen rotation.

Whatever it is it’s always fun to speculate especially with I/O fast approaching. So as we head into the weekend we’d like your thoughts on it. What is Google up to by putting screen rotation into chrome? Are they building a hybrid notebook? A Chrome OS tablet? Will I be turning my CR-48 sideways in the near future? Or just throwing the functionality in there for future use? Let us know after the break.