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Google sticking to plan to keep Android, Chrome separate

The person who oversees Chrome OS may now head Google's Android team, but that isn't going to hasten the convergence between the two OSes

Google wants to remind you, once again, that a grand convergence between Android and Chrome OS isn't happening any time soon.

That's hardly a new revelation, but the recent replacement of Android boss Andy Rubin with Sundar Pichai, who already oversees Chrome OS, fueled speculation that the two operating systems were destined to become one.

Speaking at Google's Big Tent event in India, Google chairman Eric Schmidt cleared the air: "There will be more commonality for sure, but they're certainly going to remain separate for a very, very long time because they solve different problems."

Schmidt also said that the company doesn't make decisions "based on who the leader is."

Schmidt's comments echo those of Linus Upson, Google's vice president of engineering, who told TechRadar last year that the convergence will be slow. He noted that Android is more for phones and tablets, while Chrome OS is for desktops and laptops, pointing to Apple's success at blending elements of its iOS and OS X operating systems without combining them.

"Apple doesn't try to smash the two together and we're not trying to do it, but in time there will be a seamless user experience across all the devices," Upson said.

In many ways this merging of experiences is already happening. Chrome can sync bookmarks, open tabs, history, and other data across devices, including phones and tablets. There are signs that Google Now, the virtual assistant for Android devices, is coming to Chrome for desktops. And just in terms of interface design, Google is trying to standardize its look and feel across all screen sizes, as you can see in the new Google Keep note-taking app for Chrome and Android.

The only thing that's changed recently is the launch of the Chromebook Pixel, Google's first touchscreen Chromebook. The addition of touch brings Chrome even closer in functionality to Android; it's also an attempt to encourage more finger-friendly Web apps. A more touch-optimized Web could benefit both operating systems, but it doesn't scream for them to become one.

Down the line, nixing either Chrome OS or Android could make sense for Google, but only when the experience is nearly identical. Right now, we're not even close.


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