We are beginning to start to see the next evolution of where ChromeOS can go in the form of tablets. There has been a hole in the tablet market that has been closed by larger phones and iPads. But there is still room for a device that can be as productive as a full size laptop (MacOS and Windows), and as portable as a tablet. And believe it or not, I think Google is closer to getting there than Apple.
I have repeatedly talked about how far Google has come with the Chromebooks. Before chromebooks we had netbooks, which were the smaller, under powered, little brother of the windows laptop. But unlike Chromebooks, netbooks could run many of the same programs that were on windowed power laptops. What plagued the netbook was the same thing that has plagued any windows laptop, the operating system. Windows went through a rough period of “blue screen of death” software builds. And that opened the door for a number of software companies to come in and steal their market share.
Apple, with the iOS operating system, showed the industry how powerful a tablet could be. And within half a decade, we have seen iPads begin to replace the laptop for more and more functions. Because of their App Store, Apple was able to pack many functioning apps that provided the productivity that people were looking for. And we started seeing iPads being used in the music industry, aviation industry, movie industry, and eventually in more and more places.
Then came Chromebooks. This was a computer completely built around the Chrome browser. A browser that people have been using on their phones and computers for years. A browser that already had a connection to your Google profile that connected photos, music, movies, apps, and documents. Chromebooks were budget-friendly, easy to use, and did not require near the power or hard drive space as a computer. As long as you had a connection to the web you were fine.
But now that we have seen devices like the Google Slate, HP Chromebook x2, and Acer Chromebook Tablet 10, we see where the next evolution of Chromebooks can go. There is only one thing holding this process back, and that is Google.
Now Google has been continuously making steady tweaks and improvements on the back end. Many of those tweaks you can test out on the dev channel. But they are still missing that true software style that can incorporate the productivity of a chromebook, and the portability of a tablet. But my are they close.
I talk about how a person is not going to be able to do any video editing on their chromebook, but the reality is that you can (thanks to Power Director). What keeps Power Director from being my go-to is not being able to access files from a Chromebook hard drive, something that I can do with my phone (you can only access files from the cloud). A lot of that has to do with how ChromesOS handles allowing apps to access certain drives.
I find myself encouraged with where Chromebooks will be in 2019 and this is why. At the end of 2017 we saw the Google Pixelbook. Though it was priced out of the range of most customers, it did provide a reference for what a premium Chromebook could look like and do. But the software still needed a little more time to improve. Likewise, I see the Pixel Slate opening the door for more tablet Chromebooks that will come on the field right around the time ChromeOS will be an improved tablet device.
Android apps always had an issue with tablet mode. This was the one thing Apple did right, that plagued Android. Google is going to have to clean up the code to help provide a better tablet experience for Play Store Apps. And then label apps that have been optimized for tablet mode as so. If they can clean that up, fix apps being able to access drives, clean up the bugs with apps crashing, and continue to keep the OS clean (by clean I mean not overloaded with software that will slow the device down), we are talking about a device that could become the go-to devices for a number of industries. I look forward to 2019 to see what is in store for ChromeOS Tablets and Chromebooks.