Google is experimenting with running Chrome OS on Android

Now that Android – since version 13 – ships with the Android Virtualisation Framework, Google can start doing interesting things with it. It turns out the first interesting thing Google wants do with it is run Chrome OS inside of it.

Even though AVF was initially designed around running small workloads in a highly stripped-down build of Android loaded in an isolated virtual machine, there’s technically no reason it can’t be used to run other operating systems. As a matter of fact, this was demonstrated already when developer Danny Lin got Windows 11 running on an Android phone back in 2022. Google itself never officially provided support for running anything other than its custom build of Android called “microdroid” in AVF, but that’s no longer the case. The company has started to offer official support for running Chromium OS, the open-source version of Chrome OS, on Android phones through AVF, and it has even been privately demoing this to other companies.

At a privately held event, Google recently demonstrated a special build of Chromium OS — code-named “ferrochrome” — running in a virtual machine on a Pixel 8. However, Chromium OS wasn’t shown running on the phone’s screen itself. Rather, it was projected to an external display, which is possible because Google recently enabled display output on its Pixel 8 series. Time will tell if Google is thinking of positioning Chrome OS as a platform for its desktop mode ambitions and Samsung DeX rival.

↫ Mishaal Rahman at Android Authority

It seems that Google is in the phase of exploring if there are any OEMs interested in allowing users to plug their Android phone into an external display and input devices and run Chrome OS on it. This sounds like an interesting approach to the longstanding dream of convergence – one device for all your computing needs – but at the same time, it feels quite convoluted to have your Android device emulate an entire Chrome OS installation.

What a damning condemnation of Android as a platform that despite years of trying, Google just can’t seem to make Android and its applications work in a desktop form factor. I’ve tried to shoehorn Android into a desktop workflow, and it’s quite hard, despite third parties having made some interesting tools to help you along. It really seems Android just does not want to be anywhere else but on a mobile touch display.


  1. 2024-05-14 11:49 am
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