Comments at D10 about the future merging of Android and ChromeOS have stirred up quite the speculation today. It seems like a natural path to me so I wrote about it.
Android is the technological step after the desktop. ChromeOS is the step after that, but arguably years away. How does Android grow up to one day become ChromeOS? By integrating cloud technologies into the OS so as to be hardware agnostic.
Google Drive is a huge part of this and, unless Google is inept, should be an enormous part of Android’s future. Google Drive should already be replacing Picasa for photo storage on the web and would be a welcome evolution of the stock gallery app.
Furthermore, Google Drive should definitely be positioned as the back end of Google Music and all their other content portals. In essence Drive will become a ubiquitous file system for Google’s products.
On top of Drive there is the ever confusing Google+. Reportedly a ghost town, + offers little incentive for users to be involved. On a very superficial level it will continue to be an avenue for sharing content on the web. Its true value lies in its ability to gather data on our relationships.
Circles is a fantastic idea but for most people they don’t want to take the time to individually sort their contacts into groups. A new approach to the address book fundamentally based on + would spark Circles use and intuitively make the service more meaningful.
In the quest to fix email and tame the noise of social sharing relationship data is key. On a side note, if I were at Google I would release a fork for Apps users so that they could use the service for collaboration. It’s the opposite strategy Facebook took for gaining traction and spurring the networks growth. Eventually those Apps users will transition into using the service for their everyday life and it will no longer be a ghost town for nerds and photogs.
Back to Android and the future though, a reduced emphasis on local storage and better knowledge of our social connections are great for moving to the cloud but the kicker is Google Voice.
Voice must become a product like Gmail. Its inclusion of voice, SMS, IM and video chatting in future iterations of Android will make it our communication hub. Once this happens Android will have completed its metamorphosis into a cloud centric OS just like Chrome.
They get married and live happily ever after. The end.