Chrome OS Did Lots of Growing Up in Its First Decade — and There’s More To Come

FastCompany has a feature story on Chrome OS, which has turned 10. The story talks about a new feature of Chrome OS: A new version of Chrome OS rolling out starting today will introduce a long-under-development Phone Hub feature that’ll let you see and interact with notifications from your Android phone on your Chromebook, without any complex configuration or clunky software required. You’ll also be able to silence your phone, adjust some of its settings, and see and access recent Chrome browser tabs you had open on the device right from your Chrome OS desktop.

Carefully examined clues in Google’s open-source Chromium code suggest the system could eventually do even more — with some indications that full-fledged phone-mirroring that would let you get access to all the apps and files on your phone from your Chromebook could be in the cards. I asked John Solomon’s (VP and GM of Chrome OS at Google) colleague, Chrome OS Product Manager, Engineering, and UX Lead John Maletis, if and when such a capability might come online, and while he wouldn’t outright confirm any future plans, he did allow that what we’re seeing now is only scratching the surface. “You’re just seeing the beginning,” he says. “That little tiny Phone Hub real estate — I would put a big ‘Watch This Space’ on it, because there’s a lot of stuff we can and will do there.”

The publication also touched on Fuchsia, a new operating system that Google has been working on for several years: My final pressing question about the future of Chrome OS is simply how much of it there will be. In a familiar twist, the Android- and Chrome-OS-watching communities are once again filled with speculation that Google could be working to bring the two platforms together — this time by way of a mysterious underdeveloped Google operating system known as Fuchsia.

Officially, Google says only that Fuchsia is an “open-source effort to create a production-grade operating system that prioritizes security, updatability, and performance” across a “broad range of devices.” But the vague nature of its ultimate purpose along with some eyebrow-raising bits of progress in its development — such as the recent move to allow the operating system to support both Android and Linux apps as native programs — raise some interesting questions about what, exactly, Google is actually up to with the effort. Solomon declined to answer directly about if or how Fuchsia might one day replace or otherwise relate to Chrome OS (and there are certainly more nuanced, less black-and-white possibilities to consider), but he did offer up some broad thoughts on what Google hopes to accomplish as time wears on.