Google has been working on a combination laptop/cell phone device that could mean Chrome OS and Android are finally beginning to be merged. Google was granted a patent back in February that reveals a device reminiscent of the Motorola Atrix and Bionic, with their laptop docks. The concept is the same but the smartphone would dock into the laptop in a similar fashion to Asus Padfone series. This was an interesting concept with the Bionic, but it didn’t work as well as we hoped.
US patent 8,649,821 was filed all the way back in September of 2012. It doesn’t mention any particular operating system, but some kind of a Chrome OS/Android hybrid seems like a no-brainer. The patent shows a laptop that uses the cell phone’s data connection to get online. The laptop also uses the cell phone’s microphone and speaker when the user wants to make VoIP calls or for any other voice functions. The phone will tap into the laptop’s speaker, and will probably be able to use the laptop’s battery to charge as well.
The pictures provided with the patent filing shows a laptop with a dedicated slot for the cell phone, just like the Asus Padfone series. Padfones haven’t been a massive success, but they definitely provide some extra functionality for less cost than buying a separate tablet and smartphone. This is a similar concept. The difference is that the laptop in the patent appears to work independently of the companion cellular device. The Padfone tablet doesn’t work without the Padfone smartphone docked in it. This new Google concept would be two separate devices that both work by themselves. The laptop would only need the cell phone if the user wanted a wireless data connection and wasn’t near WiFi.
Maybe we’re looking at a Chromebook that could incorporate a number of Android devices? Maybe the Nexus or Android Silver smartphones could be used with it, and Google will sell the Chromebook as a standalone device? It’s hard to say. The patent has been granted directly to Google so it’s a device that they’ve been working on directly, without an OEM in the middle. They may simply license the design. We don’t know yet.