May 31, 2012 at 2:30 PM ET
Speaking with TechRadar about the Chrome OS devices announced earlier this week, Google's VP of engineering Linus Upson dropped a few nuggets of information regarding the future of the company's operating systems. For one thing, there will be no Chrome OS tablet, so you can give up waiting on that. But he also indicated that Chrome and Android would see "more and more convergence."
What that means specifically he wouldn't say, but clearly there are advantages to both approaches. Chrome OS boots extremely quickly and is laser-focused on Web content. Android is highly customizable and features thousands of apps. But they don't intend to just hybridize the two, he says:
Microsoft demonstrated quite convincingly earlier this century that if you take one environment and jam it across all devices it wasn't going to work so now you see a lot more caution. Apple doesn't try to smash the two together and we're not trying to do it, but in time there will be a seamless user experience across all the devices.
The main issue is that people just use phones and computers differently. You've got a trackpad on one, a touchscreen on the other. One goes in your pocket, another goes in your bag. One lets you speak into it comfortably, one lets you type into it comfortably.
And neither one is disappearing in the foreseeable future, so it makes sense to cater to both. But that doesn't mean they can't learn from each other; why not let Chrome OS run Android apps in little windows? Why not let Android's browser sync with Chrome OS and borrow its windowed look for multitasking?
There hasn't been much communication regarding the two platforms' relationship, and some see it as competitive. But Upson says it's more collaborative, though they have indeed had to mature at different rates. For one thing, the ARM chips that run Android phones weren't fast enough to run the full version of Chrome until just recently. So while Chromebooks won't be moving over from Intel processors just yet, Android devices will be getting more of a full Chrome experience.
We'll probably know more come late June, when Google has its I/O developer conference. Historically, new versions of software debut there, as well as indications about what's coming next. This year a new tablet is expected, and news on the next version of Android -- rumored to be called Jellybean.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.