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Google Tests Running Chrome OS on Android Devices

TLDR: Google is experimenting with running Chrome OS on Android devices using the Android Virtualization Framework (AVF). A demo showed Chromium OS running on a Pixel 8, projected to an external display, hinting at potential desktop mode ambitions.

Google originally designed Android for smartphones but has since adapted it for tablets, watches, TVs, and car dashboards. However, the company created Chrome OS to compete in the PC market instead of using Android. Over time, Google has made the two operating systems more synergistic, such as enabling Chromebooks to run Android apps. While the reverse isn’t currently possible, that could change as Google experiments with running Chrome OS on Android devices.

Android Devices Pack Enough Power

Modern Android devices boast ample storage, memory, and processing power to handle average computing tasks. Since Google already has Chrome OS, it hasn’t felt compelled to make Android more like Windows or macOS. However, the company has tried in the past, working on a hybrid of Android and Chrome OS called Andromeda, which it ultimately abandoned.

Improving Each Platform

Google scrapped plans to merge Android and Chrome OS because both platforms were already successful. Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s VP of Android, Chrome OS, and Play, stated in 2016 that there was no point in merging the two and that the company wanted to ensure both sides benefited from each other. This led to Android borrowing seamless updates from Chrome OS and Chrome OS adding Android app support.

Android Virtualization Framework

Thanks to the Android Virtualization Framework (AVF), introduced in Android 13, Google can now run Chrome OS alongside Android seamlessly. AVF provides a secure and private execution environment for highly sensitive code, initially designed for running small workloads in a stripped-down build of Android called “microdroid” in an isolated virtual machine.

Running Other Operating Systems

While AVF wasn’t initially intended to run other operating systems, developer Danny Lin demonstrated Windows 11 running on an Android phone in 2022. Google has now started offering official support for running Chromium OS, the open-source version of Chrome OS, on Android phones through AVF.

Ferrochrome Demo

At a private event, Google demonstrated a special build of Chromium OS, code-named “ferrochrome,” running in a virtual machine on a Pixel 8. The Chromium OS wasn’t shown running on the phone’s screen itself but was projected to an external display, made possible by Google’s recent enabling of display output on its Pixel 8 series.

Future Ambitions

It remains to be seen if Google is positioning Chrome OS as a platform for its desktop mode ambitions and as a rival to Samsung DeX. Time will tell.

The experiment showcases the potential for Android devices to run alternative operating systems, opening up new possibilities for mobile computing. As Google continues to explore the synergy between Android and Chrome OS, users may soon have access to a more versatile computing experience on their Android devices.


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