Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated: Google Won’t Combine Chrome, Android

Maybe it’s just that the chrome-clad Android robot you see above (taken from Google’s campus) is waving goodbye? Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told reporters in India that the company will not merge Android and Chrome OS “for a very long time”.

According to a report from Reuters, Schmidt explained the two platforms will “remain separate for a very long time because they solve different problems.”

There has been much talk lately of merging the two operating systems–one of which, Android, is a touch-based interface for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets that also includes a rich repository of apps in the Google Play market. Chrome OS, on the other hand, is a web-focused interface that relies exclusively on web apps or plug-ins and is used solely on laptops. 

In the past, Google has defined the split between Android and Chrome OS as a predominantly touch experience versus a traditional keyboard use case. However, the Chromebook Pixel now has touch and Android keeps moving into larger, more desktop like devices such as set-top boxes.

When the former head of Android, Andy Rubin, announced his departure from Google last week, the company appointed  Sundar Pichai,the current VP of Google’s Chrome team, as his replacement. In his new position, Pichai will oversee both operating systems, a move that would have placed him in good position to bring the two systems together as one.

Schmidt’s words also come as a stark reversal given statements Google has made in the past. Google CEO Sergey Brin said in 2009 that he expected the two OSes to merge. He’s wasn’t alone either. During a Mobile World Congress event in 2011, Schmidt said, “We’re working overtime to get those technologies merged in the right way.”

On the plus side, Schmidt also spoke in India today on the future of Chrome support for Android apps. On that front, he says “a commonality” between the two OSes means Android apps could land on a Chromebook near you. 

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