Chrome, Chrome OS, and Android may soon be gaining enough interconnectivity to bring cross-platform features in-line with Google’s top competitor — Apple — based on new bits of code recently spotted in the Chromium repository. Housed and categorized under the name “OneChrome,” the primary commit for the changes lists a wealth of new features which would presumably allow users to seamlessly move from one platform to another without missing a step.
The code in question is listed as a ‘demo’ with a total of 9 points listed out. The first three are likely to be the most interesting and include “Call a number supported”, “Share text from Android to any device clipboard supported,” and “End-to-end encryption supported.”
Each of the features seems self-explanatory and obvious but the first could be linked to earlier reported features that haven’t been released yet but which would allow phone calls to be pushed to an Android device from Chrome. That would presumably include Chrome OS computers as well as other desktop platforms. However, it could feasibly allow Chrome itself to make phone calls as well.
The second feature appears to imply that Chrome OS devices and other gadgets compatible with Google Chrome will be able to share a clipboard with an Android device. An account sign-in would probably be required. Finally, the third feature suggests that end-to-end encryption will be supported in cross-platform communications — but not necessarily for the communications outbound from the devices in question.
The remaining items, listed as “List target device in Android supported,” “Filter by device capabilities,” “Use deviceGuid as preference key,” “Add text shre to browser,” “Use webpush protocol with generated VAPID key,” and “Use proto instead of JSON” seem to be descriptors for how the feature will work internally.
A logical tie-in with other recent features
The new features could be linked in with other changes Google has been pushing for its browser too. Most recent among those is the ability to use an Android device as a virtual physical security key for signing into accounts across all Chrome platforms.
Prior to that, the search giant introduced the Android Messages app to Chrome OS, allowing cross-platform messaging on many Chromebooks while other platforms such as Windows, Mac, and Linux can still rely on the web variant of Messages.
Perhaps more noteworthy, chatting feature could also be introduced to Chrome alongside the RCS-based Chat update to Google’s primary messaging application. While intended to deliver rich services to messaging without the need to wait on carriers and manufacturers, the features associated with that incoming change will essentially compete directly with Apple’s iMessage platform.
…but is it actually on the way?
As mentioned above, each of the new changes is effectively listed under a single commit message, indicating that this is something that should be introduced all at once. But that doesn’t automatically mean it will be introduced in the near future at all. Googlers currently list the commit and its subsequent features as a ‘work in progress’, so even if it does arrive, it doesn’t seem plausible that it will be landing soon.
Given its status, the features almost certainly won’t be landing before Chrome 78 at the earliest since version 77 will hit its scheduled feature freeze as of Jun 28.
Google might also choose not to roll this out to everybody all at once when it does land, tracking closely with its history of launching cross-platform features for its Pixel-branded gadgets first and resulting in further delays. If the company does plan to follow that trend, it may not be until Chrome 79 that these features roll out, since that would be closer to the timing for its annual hardware event.