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Chrome OS reportedly coming to tablets

The cloud-based OS designed for notebook use could potentially be optimized for tablets.

According to CNet, Google is currently developing Chrome OS for tablets, and even goes on to claim that Google has acknowledged its development. Strong evidence indicating the project comes straight from its latest source code, which now includes many functions oddly optimized for touch usability.

The current source code hints at many touch user interfaces that are more commonly found in tablets, such as a virtual keyboard, automatic screen orientation, and space increase around items for easier touch selections. Much of the UI regarding web pages and tabs are also reportedly “optimized for touch” with more room for fingers. These additions might seem frivolous for notebooks, but they are key features for good tablet experiences.

Although Google has previously revealed a Chrome OS tablet mockup, it is still a mystery if such a device will see the light of day this year. "We are engaging in early open-source work for the tablet form factor, but we have nothing new to announce at this time," the company said.

Of course, the big question is how a potential Chrome OS tablet would fit in the market with Google’s own recently released Android Honeycomb. In terms of app and developer support, the latter is much more mature and already has a good grasp in the mobile market. Google may have to target a different set of consumers if it intends to release a Chrome OS tablet or risk cannibalizing its own Android userbase.

Previous reports indicate that Google is considering merging its Honeycomb and Gingerbread versions into its next Android release. Whether or not this could affect the possibilities of a Chrome OS tablet or its release timeframe is unknown.

Notebooks with Chrome OS, however, are still expected to be revealed and released sometime later this year. In fact, a Sony Vaio netbook equipped with Chrome OS was leaked not too long ago and other netbooks based on the OS are reportedly ready for production, so consumers should soon be able to experience what Google’s cloud-based operating system can offer. Hopefully, Google will be able to clarify its Chrome OS tablet plans next month at the annual Google I/O conference.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-04- 8 (Update: 2012-05-26)