Could ChromeOS eventually run on your Android phone? Google’s demo of exactly that is an exciting hint for the future

A recent report has revealed that Google held a private demonstration that showed off a tailored version of ChromeOS, its operating system (OS) for Chromebooks, running on an Android device. Of course, Android is the operating system for Google’s smartphones and tablets, while ChromeOS was developed for its line of Chromebook laptops and Chromebox desktop computers.

Unnamed sources spoke with Android Authority and shared that Google hosted a demo of a specially built Chromium OS (an open source version of ChromeOS hosted and developed by Google), given the codename ‘ferrochrome,’ showing this off to other companies. 

The custom build was run in a virtual machine (think of this as a digital emulation of a device) on a Pixel 8, and while this Android smartphone was used as the hardware, its screen wasn’t. The OS was projected to an external display, made possible by a recent development for the Pixel 8 that enables it to connect to an external display.

A recent report has revealed that Google held a private demonstration that showed off a tailored version of ChromeOS, its operating system  for es it possible to run a secure and private execution environment for highly sensitive code. The AVF was developed for other purposes, but this demonstration showed that it could also be used to run other operating systems. 

Close up of the Samsung Galaxy S20

(Image credit: Future / James ide)

What this means for Android users, for now

This demonstration is evidence that Google has the capability to run ChromeOS in Android, but there’s no word, or remote hint, even, from Google that it has any plans to merge these two platforms. It also doesn’t mean that the average Android device user will be able to swap over to ChromeOS, or that Google is planning to ship a version of its Pixel devices with ChromeOS either. 

In short, don’t read much into this yet, but it’s significant that this can be done, and possibly telling that Google is toying with the idea in some way.

As time has gone on, Google has developed Android and ChromeOS to be more synergistic, notably giving ChromeOS the capability to run Android apps natively. In the past, you may recall Google even attempted to make a hybrid of Android and ChromeOS, with the codename Andromeda. However, work on that was shelved as the two operating systems were already seeing substantial success separately. 

To put these claims to the test, Android Authority created its own ‘ferrochrome’ custom ChromeOS that it was able to run using a virtual machine on a Pixel 7 Pro, confirming that it’s possible and providing a video of this feat.

For now, then, we can only wait and see if Google is going to explore this any further. But it’s already interesting to see Android Authority demonstrate this is possible, and that the tools to do this already exist if developers want to attempt it themselves. Virtualization is a popular method to run software originally built for another platform, and many modern phones have the hardware specs to facilitate it. It could also be a pathway for Google to improve the desktop mode for the upcoming Android 15, as apparently, the version seen in beta has some way to go. 


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