Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 26th Sep 2016 14:32 UTC
Android

Update: more confirmation!

With Google's event fast approaching on 4 October, the rumour mill is in full swing. We know we're going to get new 'made by Google' phones, which will drop the Nexus brand in favour of Pixel. However, there's going to be more to watch out for - everything is lining up for 4 October being a major turning point in Android's relatively recent history.

If the rumours are to be believed - and with so many different sources all pointing towards the same thing, you can probably believe them - Google will unveil not just a few new phones, but a new operating system altogether, dubbed Andromeda. And, just like we've been talking about for a long time, this is the operating system that combines Android and Chrome OS into a desktop/laptop operating system.

As 9to5google reports:

Why so many mentions of Nexus 9 specifically in tandem with Andromeda? We asked the same question, and from what we can gather, Google is testing the Chrome OS/Android hybrid on the tablet. An anonymous source has told us of users running early builds of Andromeda on the Nexus 9, but we have not been able to obtain direct confirmation from those users. Why would Google be testing Andromeda on the Nexus 9? We don't know.

But we do know that Andromeda is aimed at making Android better suited for devices like laptops, as well as 2-in-1s (like the unfortunately mediocre Pixel C) and perhaps tablets. Another interesting tidbit to note: it seems that the hidden free form window management feature that popped up in Nougat (but isn't user-facing) could appropriately see its debut with Andromeda. "SurfaceCompositionMeasuringActivity.java" mentions "Detect Andromeda devices by having free-form window management feature."

The fact that Google is working on merging Android and Chrome OS is hardly news, but as more and more details come out, it seems to indeed be the case that Google is working on not just a smartphone operating system or a tablet operating system, but a full-fledged laptop/desktop operating system, complete with the kind of freeform window management we've come to expect from operating systems like MacOS and Windows.

This is further confirmed by AndroidPolice:

Two independent and reliable sources have confirmed to us that Google is planning a new Pixel laptop to be released in Q3 2017. The project, known internally as 'Bison' and by the informal nickname 'Pixel 3,' will likely be the first brand-new device to showcase Google's combined Android / Chrome OS 'Andromeda' operating system in a laptop form factor. Bison, then, would be the culmination of years of work by Google's Pixel team and Google's Android and Chrome OS teams.

We are extremely confident Google plans for the device to run Andromeda. We are also confident that Andromeda is a completely distinct effort from Google's current campaign to bring Android apps to Chromebooks, and that Bison would not be marketed as a Chromebook. Android apps on Chrome OS descended from the ARC project, while Andromeda is a much larger, more ambitious initiative that is being pursued via merging Chrome features into Android, not vice versa. As such, it would be more accurate to say Bison will run Android than Chrome OS, and could finally be Google's internal commitment to releasing Andromeda.

Taking all this into account, a tweet that came out late last week from Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Android, Chrome and Google Play, is quite telling: "We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today. I have a feeling 8 years from now we'll be talking about Oct 4, 2016."

Much like Apple's similar efforts, I'm excited about what's happening on the Android side of things. It's clear by now that Google has very ambitious plans about moving Android forward and scaling it up to work on not just phones and tablets, but on laptops and desktops as well. Up until relatively recently, such endeavours would've been futile, because 'new' operating systems could never challenge the hegemony of Windows and OS X, but in today's world, where more and more especially younger people no longer rely on staples like Microsoft Office, or could get by just fine with the surprisingly good Android and iOS versions of Office, there's an opening for the laptop/desktop world to be shaken up.

Now, a lot of this will, as always, depend on execution. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Andromeda take a... Less laissez-faire approach to OEM and carrier customisations, and a more Chrome OS-like update policy (which is entirely free from meddling). There's also the question regarding Andromeda's relevance on phones - will it exist alongside 'classic' Android, or will Andromeda replace Android on phones and tablets as well? My guess would be yes - why unite Android and Chrome OS only to end up with another split - but that raises a whole bunch of other questions about possibly docking phones and using them with large screens and other input methods.

I'm ready for 4 October.

Order by: Score:
don't ruin chromeos!!!
by bnolsen on Mon 26th Sep 2016 15:31 UTC
bnolsen
Member since:
2006-01-06

Just because android has a far bigger market share doesn't mean its the better system. I personally find android still frustrating to use on a phone, and dramatically worse to use on a tablet/keyboard/touchpad system than chromeos is. If google royally screws up chromeos they won't be forgiven.

Reply Score: 4

RE: don't ruin chromeos!!!
by moondevil on Mon 26th Sep 2016 16:58 UTC in reply to "don't ruin chromeos!!!"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

I rather have an OS with a browser as an application, than a browser pretending to be an OS.

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: don't ruin chromeos!!!
by No it isnt on Mon 26th Sep 2016 18:07 UTC in reply to "RE: don't ruin chromeos!!!"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

If Android wasn't such a shitty OS, I'd agree. I like it on phones, but the idea of running it on a laptop makes me long for a browser pretending to be an OS.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: don't ruin chromeos!!!
by pooo on Mon 26th Sep 2016 20:41 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: don't ruin chromeos!!!"
pooo Member since:
2006-04-22

You like it on phones? What do you hate about it then? Or why do you feel like it would be worst than ChromeOS for desktop? I really miss lots of features from Android on my Chromebook so I'm genuinely curious.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: don't ruin chromeos!!!
by No it isnt on Mon 26th Sep 2016 21:02 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: don't ruin chromeos!!!"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

What I like on the phone are the ease of sharing things, and some of the Google services, none of which are of much use on a laptop. On a real computer, it's much better to just use copy and paste between more powerful apps.

What genuinely sucks about Android are things like the unpredictable battery life, the lack of proper control of the system, the laggy UI and slow graphics (which is why it failed on larger tablets), the problems with keeping the system up to date, which even affects Nexuses.

I'd like NFC on my laptop, for easier pairing with bluetooth. That's what I'd take from Android.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: don't ruin chromeos!!!
by grat on Tue 27th Sep 2016 16:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: don't ruin chromeos!!!"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

I had the Asus Transformer TF101, with keyboard, and for the most part, it was "android on a laptop"-- or "android on a tablet".

Wasn't too bad, overall. There were some issues that would be fixed by the 'nougat' multi-tasking approach, but it was certainly no worse than an ultrabook.

Ultimately, I replaced it with a Nexus 9 and a Dell XPS 13 running Windows 8.1.

Reply Score: 2

I hope Google will drop bionic
by shmerl on Mon 26th Sep 2016 15:47 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

And will switch to glibc. Otherwise this mess will spill to the desktop situation.

Edited 2016-09-26 15:47 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: I hope Google will drop bionic
by ddc_ on Mon 26th Sep 2016 16:33 UTC in reply to "I hope Google will drop bionic"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Why would they? GNU libc is the single worst libc implementation that is still around. Numerous useless extensions, subtle incompatibilities, POSIX hidden by default...

Reply Score: 2

shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Bionic is much worse.

Reply Score: 5

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I don't know, not having to deal with Drebber and those like him would make it better all by itself.

Reply Score: 2

ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Bionic is much worse.

In which ways?

Reply Score: 2

oiaohm Member since:
2009-05-30

Why would they? GNU libc is the single worst libc implementation that is still around. Numerous useless extensions, subtle incompatibilities, POSIX hidden by default...

Sorry to say you said something commonly wrong.

The existing libc there are more than most people think.

Bionic, dietlibc, glibc(GNU Libc), klibc, Microsoft Run-time Library, musl, Newlib, uClibc and BSD libc just to name common ones.


The worst of the worst for conformance is Microsoft Run-time Library versions of libc. But out of the list of existing there are still quite a few other horible ones.

Like you find new items using dietlibc and uClibc even that they have not seen development in years and are not feature complete and buggy. These two start making glibc look angelic in compare.

GNU libc has made a lot of libc disappear by adding features to allow programs built on the other libc to be built with glibc instead.

I am not saying there is not better options in the existing to GNU libc. Like Musl and Newlib are up there as solid alternatives. I would say that glibc is about middle of the road for libc quality. So glibc needs work.

Something we are really lacking is a site feature comparing libc solutions for how standard conforming they are.

People who complain that GNU libc is worst are not aware how bad some of the alternatives are. Really we wish that the worst was GNU libc but the unfortunate fact is that is not true.

Reply Score: 7

ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

GNU libc has made a lot of libc disappear by adding features to allow programs built on the other libc to be built with glibc instead.

So that is why you need to play with feature macros to enable more or less compatible behaviour?

Like you find new items using dietlibc and uClibc even that they have not seen development in years and are not feature complete and buggy. These two start making glibc look angelic in compare.

That's basically why I said "that is still around". If you take obsolete stuff into account, there is plenty of libc implementations that are worse then GNU's.

The worst of the worst for conformance is Microsoft Run-time Library versions of libc.

We were speaking about Android, right?

There are also BSD libc implementations, which are of decent quality, by far less bloated and reasonably POSIX-compatible. Porting them to Android would pose an unreasonable amount of difficulties though, so they are also out of equation.

So the real candidates for comparison are...

I am not saying there is not better options in the existing to GNU libc. Like Musl and Newlib are up there as solid alternatives.

Now, this is a huge understatement. At least musl is a reasonably complete, compact and clean implementation of POSIX libc. I had an impression that Newlib was not all that good, but at least it was not as bad as GNU libc. Any of these two would do better then GNU libc.

Reply Score: 1

RE: I hope Google will drop bionic
by moondevil on Mon 26th Sep 2016 16:57 UTC in reply to "I hope Google will drop bionic"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Keep on hoping.

Brillo and Fuchsia have removed everything GNU related as much as Google could, I think the the Linux kernel is probably the only thing remaining.

Edited 2016-09-26 16:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

cb88 Member since:
2009-04-23

Fuchsia runs on the Magenta kernel... so yeah they got that in progress also.

Also to those saying Bionic is worse.. It's only purpose is to bootstrap a minimal userland with minimal attack surface area... that's it's job not to be "nice".

Edited 2016-09-26 19:52 UTC

Reply Score: 2

shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Minimal shouldn't mean handicapped. It means that in case of bionic.

Reply Score: 3

grat Member since:
2006-02-02

Minimal shouldn't mean handicapped. It means that in case of bionic.


Well, all you need to do is port systemd over. That'll solve all your problems. ;)

Reply Score: 3

Great!
by Sauron on Mon 26th Sep 2016 16:24 UTC
Sauron
Member since:
2005-08-02

Another spyware OS, it never ends!

Reply Score: 0

Sigh
by darknexus on Mon 26th Sep 2016 16:46 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Another shitty attempt to have a one size fits all operating system that will fail to work right on any UI. You'd think they'd have learned from Microsoft's mistake.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Sigh
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 26th Sep 2016 19:53 UTC in reply to "Sigh"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I understand the skeptisim, but until I see the final product, I'll reserve judgement. Its a difficult problem, I understand, but maybe, just maybe they have learned from the failure of others.

I mean, I would/could have said something similar about iphones upon release. Sometimes companies do learn from the failures of others.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Sigh
by indieinvader on Mon 26th Sep 2016 21:21 UTC in reply to "Sigh"
indieinvader Member since:
2009-08-11

The OS can easily be one-size-fits all. ChromeOS and Android are both Linux distributions, after all.

The trouble starts when you start dealing with user interfaces. This is where things start to break down. Some web applications scale wonderfully from desktop to mobile. I've built some of them myself and created some good experiences.

That said, it is no easy task. Each screen-size/input combination has different needs and abilities.

Reply Score: 4

Nexus 9
by signals on Mon 26th Sep 2016 20:06 UTC
signals
Member since:
2005-07-08

As an owner of a Nexus 9, I am really hoping that these rumors of Andromeda being tested on a Nexus 9 are true, and we see a build of it (either through AOSP or as an official build) on the device.

It's possibly the worst technology purchase I've ever made. It never ran well, and Android on a tablet is... sub-optimal. At least if they bring Andromeda to it I'd get to try it out, and there would be something positive about owning one.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nexus 9
by grat on Tue 27th Sep 2016 16:36 UTC in reply to "Nexus 9"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

Really? I've been quite happy with my Nexus 9 (as a tablet) right up until the Nougat early beta.

Nougat still has a few chunks of nuts mixed in, in my opinion.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Nexus 9
by signals on Tue 27th Sep 2016 19:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Nexus 9"
signals Member since:
2005-07-08

I'm probably just bitter that there's no ESC key on its keyboard cover. My primary use case when I bought it was to be able to have a small/lightweight, easy to carry SSH terminal. Try using vi without an ESC key! Wish I had noticed the lack of an ESC key before I bought it, but it didn't even occur to me to check. What's next? Do I have to check for the presence of PgUp, Backspace, or F?

I'm not thrilled with the build quality, either. The backlight leaks out of the seams, and the back flexes like it's made out of thin plastic and is hollow.

The keyboard cover frequently loses its connection to the tablet, and I've still not found a sure-fire way to get them to sync up again. And the tablet can't tell if the cover is attached or not, so sometimes if I've left the keyboard sitting on the table in another room, the tablet won't show me a software keyboard because it's still connected via Bluetooth.

But what really did in the Android tablet, is that I have a Surface Pro. It does the tablet thing well enough for what I need, and also makes a much better SSH terminal. For light use, I reach for my phone. For heavier duty, I use the Surface. The Nexus 9 just collects dust because it never seems like the right tool for the job.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Nexus 9
by grat on Wed 28th Sep 2016 14:19 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Nexus 9"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

Ah. You want a tablet that works like a laptop. No, the Nexus 9 isn't that.

The Surface would be your best bet right now, or possibly the Pixel C.

Reply Score: 2

Andromeda is also a flower
by cybergorf on Mon 26th Sep 2016 23:56 UTC
cybergorf
Member since:
2008-06-30

Andromeda is the name of a special Fuchsia Hybrid:
https://otherfellow.co.uk/hardy-fuchsias-a-to-j/andromeda

"A delightful hardy that is neat, compact and bushy"

What does that mean in OS terms? ;-)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Andromeda is also a flower
by drcoldfoot on Wed 28th Sep 2016 15:54 UTC in reply to "Andromeda is also a flower"
drcoldfoot Member since:
2006-08-25

It's also where Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy are purported to be from.

Reply Score: 2

Chill out
by przemo_li on Tue 27th Sep 2016 05:56 UTC
przemo_li
Member since:
2010-06-01

'Andromeda' for ChromeOS is "just" android runtime in a container.

Just past week we had some Google engineer explaiming fairly fresh Linux advancements that made it possible, both in kernel (ability to run another Linux in as "sandbox) and in GUI department (Wayland - modern look at display server).

Maybe Google can slap some bigger integration onto it (so that ChromeOS can talk though intents and the like with Andoid apps?)


So for now Andromeda on a laptop is just a fancy PR name for fairly normal virtualisation-like solution.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Chill out
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 27th Sep 2016 09:22 UTC in reply to "Chill out"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

'Andromeda' for ChromeOS is "just" android runtime in a container.


You're wrong.

Taken straight from the linked article, which you clearly did not read before you commented:

"We are also confident that Andromeda is a completely distinct effort from Google's current campaign to bring Android apps to Chromebooks, and that Bison would not be marketed as a Chromebook. Android apps on Chrome OS descended from the ARC project, while Andromeda is a much larger, more ambitious initiative that is being pursued via merging Chrome features into Android, not vice versa. "

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Chill out
by hadrianw on Tue 27th Sep 2016 11:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Chill out"
hadrianw Member since:
2016-09-27

They forgot what they written earlier [1]. On wikipedia it is also mentioned [2]. ARC approach was abandoned in favor of Android in container. That does not mean that Andromeda is the same thing as what currently is on ChromeOS.

What I think: This could be a port of desktop chrome for Android (with few changes here and there in Andorid). That could be possible, because what was made with Nougat. Android now has few features of ChromeOS: clean updates (thanks to separate partition) and free form multi-windowing. This could also be ChromeOS container inside Android, but that it would not be that different.

[1] http://www.androidpolice.com/2016/09/22/chrome-android-apps-show-st...
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrome_OS#Android_applications

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Chill out
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 27th Sep 2016 15:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Chill out"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

I'm inclined to believe you're right, and this makes the most sense.

Why else would they kill Chrome Apps unless ChromeOS is going to be rebased on Android, and Chrome is going to be sandboxed? We knew ChromeOS was dead, and it was just a matter of time.

Nothing is new here. I'm smelling marketing throwing out shiny new faux code names to get the geeks worked up, and in the end, it's going to be more of the same Java based junk that is the hallmark of Android.

Magenta may be interesting, but everyone is probably going to be letdown by this.

Reply Score: 2

AdvertiserOS
by ezraz on Tue 27th Sep 2016 13:30 UTC
ezraz
Member since:
2012-06-20

I just don't see the future with google working out the way we want it to.

I can barely use any service of theirs anymore without incessant requesting me to log in. They have cookies in every browser and device of mine, trying to track everything I do so they can sell my eyeballs to the highest bidder.

If you use multiple browsers or have multiple profiles, google is ready to connect that all up into one person.

I just don't trust any company that gives me so much for 'free'. Nothing's free.

Reply Score: 3

Laptop Linux?
by wingnut2292 on Wed 28th Sep 2016 05:13 UTC
wingnut2292
Member since:
2006-05-12

What if the parts of Chrome OS is the OS-part as well as the Chrome part? Cell phones aren't really UPNP devices so everything needs to be compiled for that device ( by the carriers and handset makers).

What if Google/Alpabet has made/reverse-engineered a different frankenstein-esk OS than the GNU/Linux we are familiar with? What if instead of GNU/Linux we have Magenta/Android/Linux?

I remember the palmtop netbooks that ran linux. Folks didn't like them, most opted for WinXP (Vista was too large) but there wasn't ever a graceful solution. Outside of multi-touch screen drivers and SoC drivers, I've always wondered why gnu/linux, (or possibly a blend of BSD - being a complete unified OS might make a difference here). My take was UI, and the GLP/3p-BSD lics.

Google needs to make Android an OS, more than it is right now. Smartphones/tablets are a kind of weird halfway point between simple embedded device operating systems that feature phones used and laptops. Andromeda looks to be the start of plugging-in some of the missing laptop parts so that Android is closer to a conventional operating system than a that smartphone halfway point.

So how is Chrome fitting into this? Well for everything that's not an app... we usually imagine a paradigm of a filing cabinet and a desktop. Imagine instead that your computer is a micro-server, and you 'browse' your computer's data. It's not crazy. Konqueror in KDE is both a browser and file-explorer, and there is little differance between IE and Explorer.exe on the user-facing side these days. Chrome in Andromeda will just be even more seamless.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Laptop Linux?
by Flatland_Spider on Wed 28th Sep 2016 15:29 UTC in reply to "Laptop Linux?"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Why GNU/Linux on the netbooks?

It would run well on the low-specced hardware of netbooks, and it had the most mindshare of the alternative operating systems. Companies at least knew what Linux was, and would some would even provide drivers. Then there were vendors who could provide a turnkey OS.

When people opted for WinXP, netbooks morphed into crappy bottom-of-the-barrel laptops.

Chrome fits in by being a recognizable brand name. Now it's going back to just being a web browser rather then try and be a runtime environment like the JRE.

Your analysis would make more sense if Chrome Apps, or offline HTML5 apps, were still a thing.

Reply Score: 1