Google’s newest tablet, the Pixel C, was probably never meant to run Android, according to Ars Technica.
This oddity would explain why many reviewers found the operating system, which is primarily designed for smartphones, to be lacking.
Walt Mossberg, a well-respected technology pundit, said in his review that the Pixel C is “an object lesson in what Google shouldn’t do if it pursues home-grown integration of hardware and software.”
The tablet, which was released earlier this month, was likely meant to run a touchscreen version of Chrome OS, the same operating system that powers Google’s Chromebook laptops, according to the report. Google was at one point working on a project (codenamed Project Athena) to integrate touchscreen functionality into Chrome OS, but it was cancelled in December 2014.
The report from Ars Technica points to various aspects of the Pixel C’s software code, highlighting areas that appear to have been designed for Chrome OS but were never finished. A device — codenamed “Ryu” — is described as having many of the Pixel C’s features (such as a USB Type-C port), and was intended to run Chrome OS.
The next option after a full version of Chrome OS, according to the report, was an Android/Chrome OS hybrid that paired the two operating systems together into one package. This would have created a “2-in-1” machine, like the Surface Pro, but the project never made it onto the Pixel C. Ars points to a piece of Google code that describes the project (known as “frankenboard”) as being “dead.”
The final apparent option — and the one Google chose — was Android, Google’s popular mobile operating system. The Pixel C was announced in September, ready for a late November launch, and just in time for holiday sales — which may have affected Google’s decision to ship the tablet with an operating system designed for smaller screens.
There are rumours that Google is going to fold Chrome OS into Android, but the company has denied the reports. Chrome OS is a big hit in schools, beating both Apple and Microsoft in terms of sales. Over 30,000 Chromebooks are now activated in U.S. schools every day.
Business Insider has reached out to Google. We will update the post when we hear back.
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