Google has a big change in store for Chrome

October 29, 2015, 10:48 PM UTC
Google's Android mobile OS.
Google's Android mobile OS.
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google plans to fold its Chrome operating system for laptop computers into Android, which powers its mobile devices, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing anonymous sources.

Engineers at the company have been working on the project for a couple of years already, the report said, which Google (GOOG) plans to unveil next year and make publicly available in 2017.

Android, which Google acquired in 2005, is the most widely used mobile operating system, powering more than 1 billion smartphones and other devices globally. Chrome, on the other hand, was developed in-house for Google’s lightweight laptops, called Chromebooks, and is mostly focused on browser-based applications.

Chromebooks account for only 3% of the personal computer market, according to research firm IDG.

Combining the two operating systems will mean that the new version of Android will also run on personal computers, giving users access to the Google Play app store, according to the report. This is likely to appeal to independent developers whose apps could be used on personal computers in addition to mobile devices.

The change will mean a new name for Chromebooks, though the company’s web browser will retain the Chrome name, according to the Journal‘s sources.

This follows in the footsteps of Microsoft (MSFT), which has created version of its Windows 10 operating system for both computers and its mobile devices. Apple (AAPL), on the other hand, has maintained two separate systems, one for mobile devices and one for its computers.

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