ASUS’ future Chromebook is a premium alternative to the Flip
ASUS’ Chrome OS efforts are currently headlined by the cheap-and-cheerful Chromebook Flip, which mainly stands out for combination of a 2-in-1 design with a bargain basement price. However, the PC maker is about to shake things up in a big way. In the culmination of a series of leaks, Newegg has listed a $499 C302CA laptop that appears to be an upscale sibling to (but not replacement for) the Flip. It touts a larger 12.5-inch, 1080p screen, and it’s running Intel’s Core m3 processor instead of the budget Rockchip part you saw in the Flip last year. Combine that with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and it’s clear that this is a premium Google-powered system — not at the level of the Chromebook Pixel or HP Chromebook 13, but much nicer than the Celeron-based portables that dominate the Chrome OS world.
Accordingly, the C302CA carries a more refined version of the Flip’s all-metal design that includes two USB-C ports and a microSD card reader. It’s much heavier than the Flip at just under 2.7 pounds, but you might not mind as much given the larger display and 0.5-inch thickness.
Newegg shows the system in stock as we write this, so you might get to buy one before it’s even announced. You might want to hold off until CES in early January, though. There’s a real chance that ASUS will formally unveil the C302CA at the trade show, and it’s likely to confirm specs as well as the possibility of different configurations. You’ll have a better idea of what you’re buying.
Via: ChromeUnboxed, 9to5Google
Why didn’t Google make Chromebooks a priority this holiday season?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, and the holiday shopping season is in full swing. As such, Google, Microsoft and Apple have all revealed their latest and greatest to get shoppers opening their wallets. Microsoft has the Surface Studio and refreshed Surface Book, not to mention the Xbox holiday lineup, while Apple goes into holiday battle with the new MacBook Pro and the iPhone 7.
Google is trying something different this year. The company has a full ecosystem of products made in-house for the first time: the Pixel smartphone, Google Home assistant and Daydream VR headset. All three products are important to Google’s strategy, but it feels to me like something’s missing: the humble Chromebook. Google’s more traditional computing platform has gone neglected this fall, and it’s especially surprising in light of a few big developments this year.
The first was a report from IDC claiming that Chromebooks outsold Macs in the first quarter of the year. Yes, that’s just one isolated data point, but it shows that there’s a market for Chromebooks, and that market is growing. The second development was Google’s announcement that Android apps would come to Chromebooks this year. That would solve two of the platform’s big weaknesses: the lack of traditional applications and the Chromebook’s limited offline capabilities.
But the rollout of Google Play on Chromebooks has been stilted at best. Only three models have full support as of today, more than six months after Google first announced the feature. There are a few more that can run Android apps if you use the developer version of Chrome OS, but ultimately this isn’t a selling point Google can use to drive interest in the platform. Indeed, the company doesn’t mention the feature at all on its Chromebook website or in its online store. Based on my experiences using Android on Chromebooks, that’s because the experience isn’t quite yet ready for prime time. There’s no sense in launching a half-baked feature, but I had assumed it would be ready to go by the end of this year.
It’s hard to see this as anything but a missed opportunity. Android is the most popular mobile OS by a wide margin, and being able to use the same apps on both your mobile phone and Chromebook would bring a nice layer of integration to the two platforms. But this non-launch means that consumers aren’t aware of this potentially important feature and developers have zero incentive to consider Chromebooks when building apps.
Google is dropping the ball from a hardware perspective as well. The Chromebook Pixel 2 was discontinued at the end of August with no replacement in site. Sure, that computer was never a practical buy, but similar to what the Nexus program did for phones, it provided manufacturers and developers inspiration when building their own Chromebooks. Other manufacturers have picked up the slack to some extent, but I’m surprised Google appears to have given up making its own Chrome OS hardware.
The hardware gulf shows up in Google’s online store too. Right now, you can only buy three different Chromebooks — all from Acer, two with 11-inch screens and large boat anchor with a 14-inch screen. It seems extremely strange that you cannot visit Google’s store and buy a Chromebook with the ever-popular 13-inch screen size.
One possible explanation for the apparent de-prioritization of Chromebooks at Google could be that the company is fully merging Chrome OS with Android, as various rumors have suggested over the years. The most recent rumor claims a merged Android / Chrome OS will power the next Pixel laptop planned to arrive sometime next year. That would certainly explain the silence, and an announcement of that magnitude would likely wait for the next I/O event in late spring. But that’s still another six months from now, not that the timeframe really matters if Google is moving on from Chrome OS.
It’s too soon to know what Google’s plan is, but a Google spokesperson confirmed that the company “remains committed to Chrome OS and Chromebooks.” The spokesperson also said that Google is seeing great momentum for the platform, particularly in the education market. And given that nearly all Chromebooks are made by OEM partners, there’s logic to keeping this fall’s big launch event focused on the “Made by Google” products. But if the company isn’t giving up on Chromebooks, that makes the lack of new hardware this fall all the more strange.
That’s particularly true given that Google has been closing the gap with Apple, a company whose laptop situation is a bit out of whack right now. A Chromebook is clearly a different class of device than a MacBook Pro, but that’s beside the point. If Google isn’t giving customers good devices to buy and making big advances like Android apps a priority, Chromebooks will continue to have a hard time shaking the old “it’s only a browser” stigma.
Google snaps up the creators of a game-focused Android emulator
You can already run Android apps on a Chromebook, but would you run games and other intensive mobile apps on it? Probably not. However, Google might be taking steps to make that practical. The creators of LeapDroid, an Android emulator that specializes in games, have revealed that they’re joining Google just months after releasing it to the public. The team isn’t discussing “specific plans,” but they’re halting both development and support for LeapDroid. You can continue running the latest version, but you won’t get anything more than that.
It’s not clear just how the deal went down, although the team suggests that this isn’t a straight-up acquisition: LeapDroid is “not affiliated” with Google despite the move. We’ve asked Google for more details and will let you know if it can shed light on what’s happening.
However it happened, the move raises a few possibilities. On a basic level, it could help with Android’s performance in non-native environments — something as fast as LeapDroid could help developers testing Android apps, or give Chrome OS devices an extra boost running mobile titles. In the long term, though, it could be important for that oft-rumored Android/Chrome union. If you’re going to merge two largely disparate platforms, you want to eliminate as many potential hiccups as possible. While there’s no certainty that you’ll see conspicuous uses of LeapDroid’s tech, it won’t be surprising if the extra talent makes Google’s vision of computing that much more realistic.
Via: LeapDroid (Twitter)
Acer’s new Chromebook 15 is cheap but compromised
Chromebooks have long had a reputation for being cheap, compromised machines, but things have changed in the last few years. You can now spend hundreds of dollars to get a Chromebook with better design and specs, but there are still plenty of bargain basement options as well. Acer’s new Chromebook 15 falls in the latter category, without a doubt.
The $199 Chromebook 15 replaces last year’s model, which started at the same price point. Given the extremely low cost, there are a bunch of compromises on board worth noting. First up is the screen: Acer claims its 15.6-inch display “[gives] customers additional real estate to view multiple tabs and apps.” That’s a claim we’re going to have to take issue with: the 1366 x 768 resolution is the same as you’ll typically find on 11-inch laptops. Yes, things will be a lot bigger, which might be useful for some buyers, but there won’t be more room to do anything on this screen.
Also, the new Chromebook 15 only comes with 2GB of RAM — it’s almost 2017 and we cannot recommend buying a laptop with that amount of RAM, particularly if you can’t upgrade it. Acer didn’t say whether or not it would sell upgraded models of this computer, but last year you could pick up a model with 4GB of RAM and a full 1080p screen for an extra $80. That’s money well spent.
The new Chromebook 15 does have some things going for it, like a claimed 12-hour battery life. Of course, such a large machine is generally better suited as an “around the house” computer rather than something you’ll use on-the-go, a long way away from power. But it’s also a bit smaller and lighter than last year’s model, which was a boat anchor compared to just about every other Chromebook on the market.
Much as we said when we checked out Acer’s first Chromebook 15, we’re just not quite convinced this is a computer that makes much sense for a lot of people, unless you really value sheer screen size over everything else. Of course, the price is also quite low, so if you just need a cheap laptop, Acer’s new Chromebook 15 should fit the bill.
Samsung’s leaked Chromebook is a pen-toting premium hybrid
Samsung’s Chromebook strategy has so far focused on the budget-conscious crowd, but it’s about to change in a big, big way. Chrome Unboxed tipsters have uncovered store listings (and briefly, a landing page) for a Chromebook Pro that would cater to people wanting a high-end Chrome OS experience. The 12.3-inch system would not only have a Chromebook Flip-style 360-degree touchscreen, but a pen — you could turn this Google-powered laptop into an impromptu drawing tablet. The page hints at a pre-installed ArtCanvas app for creative types, and the pen would no doubt come in handy for promised Android app support.
The stylus wouldn’t be the only selling point. The Pro would come wrapped in a “full metal” shell that helps it measure just 0.55 inches at its thickest point. It’d have a very sharp 2,400 x 1,600 display, too. And a six-core, 2GHz ARM processor should both help with battery life (up to 10 hours) and improve compatibility with Android apps.
If the store listings are accurate, you’d have to spend a hefty $499 to get the Chromebook Pro, which could arrive as soon as October 24th. That’s a lot to spend on a Chrome OS device, especially one that doesn’t have the processing power of similarly premium rivals like the HP Chromebook 13. However, it might be the machine to get if you’re buying a Chromebook with Android apps in mind.
Via: 9to5Google, Chrome Unboxed
Source: Adorama, Samsung landing page (cached)
We’re live from the #MadeByGoogle launch event!
Not-so-cryptic teasers, seemingly ironclad leaks and a truly surprising advertising push have all led to this. Buckle up, folks: today might be a turning point for Google as an honest-to-goodness hardware company, and we’re bringing you all the news live from the company launch event in San Francisco.
By now, you probably know what Google’s going to unveil as well as we do: expect a pair of new Pixel smartphones that could spell the end of the Nexus legacy and more detail on Google Home, the Echo-like assistant that looks an awful lot like an air freshener. Throw in a new Chromecast that’ll stream 4K/Ultra HD content, a potentially tiny new wireless router and the first Daydream VR headset and we’ve got a hell of a day ahead of us. It might seem a little odd for Google to announce all this stuff on one day, but hey — what better way to celebrate the work pulled off by Rick Osterloh and the company’s new hardware division.
While Google has spent months marshalling its supply chains, the biggest announcement of the day might actually deal with software. Android and Chrome OS chief Hiroshi Lockheimer has said that we might soon look at October 4, 2016 with the same sort of historical respect as the day Android 1.0 launched — it’s big talk for sure, but I doubt we’re going to be let down. Maybe this is the day we finally get to see Andromeda, the hybrid Android-Chrome OS that has been the stuff of legend for years. Stay tuned: you’ll know everything just as soon as we do.
Pixel 2 joins the few Chromebooks that can run Android apps
Prior to a few days ago, anyone wanting to run Android apps on their Chromebook had to be an early adopter. Google finally released a stable build of Chrome OS that included a Play store in beta that would allow users to run mobile apps…but only on the Acer Chromebook R11 and ASUS Chromebook Flip. Since the only one other machine supporting Android apps in beta Chrome OS releases was the Chromebook Pixel 2, we predicted it would be next in line — and we were right.
Starting today, users of that sadly out-of-production machine can run the Play store on a stable Chrome OS 53 build and load up Android apps. Which Chromebook will get cleared next is unclear, though Google does have a list of dozens that will get added at some point “later in 2016/2017.”
Source: Android Police
Google’s Android/Chrome laptop may be a year away
We’ve long heard rumors that Google may be merging its Chrome and Android operating systems into a laptop platform, and we’re now getting more substantive reports that point to a Q3 2017 time frame for the hybrid OS. According to Android Police’s sources, the purported Andromeda software is set to debut on a notebook codenamed Bison that is more commonly expected to be called the Pixel 3.
Android Police obtained the news from two sources it described as “independent and reliable,” but cautioned that the details are subject to change. The Bison laptop will reportedly sport a 12.3-inch display, a fingerprint scanner, two USB C ports and a whole host of sensors. It will also support a tablet mode and stylus input, presumably to cater to artists or designers on the go.
According to the report, the notebook will also come with a pressure-sensitive trackpad similar to Macbooks, and its battery is expected to last 10 hours. Google may be going all out against Apple with the Bison, too, as it’s said to be trying to make the laptop less than 10mm thick (thinner than the Macbooks). Plus, the notebook has a reported starting price of $799.
As for the Andromeda OS, it won’t simply be a way to run Android apps on a Chrome platform. Rather, Android Police speculates it will likely be the result of bringing Chrome features to Android, which likely means a version of the popular mobile OS tailored to desktop users. If the leak is true, we are about a year out from seeing the Andromeda-powered laptop. Google may still tease the OS at its upcoming October 4th event, but we’re more likely to see a new WiFi router, 4K Chromecast and Pixel phones then.
Source: Android Police
Chromebooks now have an easy time running Android apps
You no longer have to be an early adopter to run Android apps on a Chromebook. Google has released a stable version of Chrome OS that includes Google Play Store access in beta, giving you the opportunity to run mobile apps on top of your usual web access. You’ll have to own an Acer Chromebook R11 or an ASUS Chromebook Flip to give this update a shot, but it beats having to run a Chrome OS beta just to see what all the fuss is about.
It’s not certain which systems are coming next, although we’d expect the late Chromebook Pixel 2 to be next in line given that it’s the only one listed as supporting Android apps in beta Chrome OS releases. Almost all other compatible devices (including machines from HP, Lenovo and Samsung) are still waiting for their turn. But hey, it’s a step in the right direction — you’re that much closer to running your favorite phone apps from the comfort of your PC.
Via: Android Police
Source: Chrome Releases, The Chromium Projects
Google for Work will supposedly be renamed to Google Cloud
If you’re used to seeing Google for Work branding on your employer’s web apps like Docs and Inbox, changes are coming. For now, it sounds superficial, according to a report from The Information. The publication’s sources say that the search juggernaut is changing the name to Google Cloud, and that the change will also cover Chromebooks and Android devices in addition to web services. “The name change is Google’s way of saying, ‘We have the best cloud platform, period,’” according to an anonymous source. The publication goes on to say that this should all be made official at a Google Cloud event later this month on the 29th.
Source: The Information