Blog Post

A Chrome OS tablet as the next Nexus 10? I like the sound of that.

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Google’s(s goog) Nexus phone got a refresh in October while its Nexus 7 tablet was upgraded with new hardware in July. Oddly, the company’s Nexus 10 Android tablet is still the same old model as last year. There have been rumors and leaks on an upgraded Nexus 10, but Google continues to sell the 2012 edition.

This past weekend, John Freml pondered why this is on the Pocketables blog and raised an interesting question: What if the next Nexus 10 actually runs Chrome OS and not Android?

Nexus 10 tablet

Freml raises some good points. Android appears far more successful on smaller, rather than larger tablets, for a number of reasons. With some exceptions, Android apps don’t always translate well on big screens. And smaller tablets are typically priced lower; $229 buys a well-equipped Nexus 7 tablet for example.

Although I use a Chromebook Pixel full-time as my primary computer, I’ve longed for a Chrome OS tablet for months. Obviously, the lack of a Nexus 10 tablet upgrade doesn’t mean that Google will create one. But there’s additional evidence to support the possibility.

Back in April we saw the beginnings of an on-screen, software keyboard in Chrome OS. Since then, that keyboard has been steadily improving. This can’t just be a coding experiment for Google. It wouldn’t create a touch keyboard unless there can or will be devices that can use it.

Chrome tablet

I could use that software keyboard on my Chromebook Pixel, but there’s little point given the laptop has an excellent hardware keyboard: The form-factor simply doesn’t lend itself to an on-screen keyboard. But a tablet or hybrid touchscreen device would benefit from such an input method. As an aside, it was reported previously that Asus would be making the next Nexus 10; that’s the same company that makes the hybrid Transformer tablets with keyboard docks.

What would make a Chrome OS tablet compelling? For some, it won’t be; those that think Chrome OS is “just a browser” aren’t going to change their minds because it comes on a tablet.

As a Chromebook user, however, I’d like the full desktop browsing experience found in Chrome. Yes, the mobile version of Chrome is pretty capable, but it’s not quite the same when it comes to capabilities and the experience. Google could also use the device to help push forward the “touchable web”; something it started with the Chromebook Pixel.

Chromebook Pixel

Freml thinks Google could combine Chrome OS and Android a bit by including support for Android apps. Others have thought the same, including myself at one point. I no longer think that’s going to happen, at least not in a simplistic way. Instead, I foresee Google bridging the two through services and common application frameworks for cross-platform use. And I can think of no better device for that than a tablet.

14 Responses to “A Chrome OS tablet as the next Nexus 10? I like the sound of that.”

  1. I would love a dule boot tablet with Chrome OS and Android. I know that most of the time my android system can handle my needs while I’m on the go but during prolonged use it becomes cumbersome. While I’m at home I would love plopping my tablet on a keyboard and mouse and picking up exactly where I left off. It’s no suprise that chrome is better sutied for keyboard and mouse. Then when I want to go to bed just peal it off and boom, back to my good old android.

  2. Michael Iafrato

    I am not sure if this is even possible but I would love if desktop Chrome, complete with the extensions was available on Android. If that were the case then there would be no need for a Chrome OS Tablet, just use the Chrome Desktop Browser in Android and it is the best of both worlds.

  3. javaguy44

    Nexus implies “open” and Android and flash images and all that good stuff and carries weight w/ developers as a developer device.

    I’m fine w/ a Chrome OS tablet, but to say its a more purpose built for developers is not true; Chrome OS is locked down tighter than iOS. If you root or do other things, it is no longer the mission or goal of Chrome OS.

  4. while a chromeos tablet would be interesting, you are forgetting the fact that google just fixed google play to have the “optimized for tablets” section. Pretty sure that if they release a nexus 10, it will be an android device.

    • esquared

      It would give a full Chrome experience complete with the same extensions and Chrome Apps that I use on my laptop. I for one would love that. BTW, most of the complaints here are based on the assumption that Android apps won’t be ported to Chrome-Apps. Many of the Android apps I use are also available on Chrome and more are coming all the time.

  5. PhaseBurn

    While I won’t say that I’ll *never* buy a ChromeOS tablet, I will always have an Android one, and will be very, very disappointed if there’s a new 10″ CrOS device but not a new 10″ Android Nexus tablet.

    I’ve used a Pixel, and other Chromebooks for a while, since I got my Samsung at IO well over 2 years ago. They’re nice, but they don’t replace a desktop for me for some things. My current Nexus 10 runs Photoshop from the Play Store, VLC for local media, Netflix for non-local media, an IRC client, a few Android games such as Reaper, and other things that, quite frankly, aren’t capable on a CrOS tablet just yet, with out native Android application compatibility. It’ll do Gmail, Docs, and take care of a lot of things, yes, but that’s maybe 50% of what I use my tablet for. I understand CrOS devices can stream Netflix now, but there’s not a decent local media player for videos. There’s very few decent games that are ports of Android/iOS games, such as Tiny Death Star. I’m not even going to attempt to discuss the more advanced apps such as Tasker and what not.

    I’m not saying I don’t see a use for a CrOS tablet, I do – but it’s not something that can, at least not today or any time in my forseeable future, replace my Android tablet (unless it has Android app compatibility), I believe that’s the case for a lot of people. Sure, you can say “Get a Nexus 7 if you want Android”, to which I’ll say “I want a 10 inch in landscape mode, as I find it better suited for media and even web browsing, since I can fit more of the page on the screen at once for less scrolling.”.

    I think it’d be great if there was a dual-boot option for a refreshed Nexus 10. While not something I’d employ, it would suite both platforms decently, allowing people to do what they want. There’s no reason the same hardware couldn’t be used for both, after all, even if there was not a dual boot option but a “CrOS” or “Android” choice at purchase. Basically until CrOS can replace my Android, I’d just appreciate Google not trying to obsolete Android in favour of it on it’s higher end devices.

  6. I think we’re coming closer to a hybrid device running Chrome OS, but I don’t think it will a Nexus device. It is too much related to Android in terms of branding.

    It could Pixel (2014) with a detachable screen. Anyway, it doesn’t make any difference. It’s just the name.

    The strategy of Google on Chrome for mobile is pretty clear. They are moving towards Cordova. So Android will remain their main system on both smartphone and tablet, for a while.

  7. Will Ginn

    Interesting thoughts. I am looking in the 8.9″+ range for new retina desplay tablet. Now that the iPad Air is out I am waiting to see what Google brings out before I buy. The idea of a multi/cross platform device never crossed my mind. As I said, interesting….

  8. So, a tablet using an OS developed around physical keyboard and pointing device.

    A tablet that asks buyers and developers to write off the investments they’ve made in the vendor’s mobile app ecosystem.

    A second try at a company-branded large tablet that ignores all the user experience built around what is now the world’s most popular operating system.

    In other words, a switch from copying the world’s most profitable mobile platform, to copying its least profitable one.

    If you felt a tingle at the self-destructive insanity of Windows RT, you’ll experience a screaming orgasm when confronted by a Chromium-powered Nexus 10.

    • On top of that, all the Tablet improvements in 4.4 would be a moot point. Sure the Nexus 7 is a “Tablet” and takes advantage of those changes, but in reality the Nexus 7 is just an oversized phone.