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Laptops

Google may have just spilled the beans on a new wave of Chrome OS tablets

Analysis: Even a single reference in Google's codebase could be pretty telling...

A Google mock-up from last year of a Chrome OS tablet is coming to fruition.

A Google mock-up of a Chrome OS tablet from 2010. To date, only a few have ever come to market.

Google

Last Wednesday, a seemingly innocuous request appeared in Google's Chromium codebase: "Add mappings for "Hamburger" and "Assistant" keys on Hammer/Wand/Whiskers and BRYDGE keyboards." 

But that single sentence may have been enough to reveal a secret -- Google may be planning to bring a new wave of high-end Chrome OS tablets to market.

That's because Brydge is the name of a manufacturer of high-end detachable keyboards for Apple and Windows tablets, but Google doesn't currently have a lot of tablets on the market to justify a third-party keyboard. Last we counted, it was just the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and the detachable HP Chromebook X2, which already comes with its own keyboard. (Google's own Pixel C, discontinued in December 2017, ran Android instead of Chrome OS.)

Would Brydge build a keyboard just for the Acer, which was generally panned in early reviews? Not too likely.

It's not like Google hasn't been public about wanting to have more Chrome OS tablets, though. And other references in the Chrome OS codebase have suggested that other detachable Chromebooks, perhaps even one with a built-in stylus, may be in our future.

chrome-os-screenshot-brydge
Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

9to5Google, which reported the Brydge reference earlier, is currently gathering evidence to suggest that Google is working on multiple detachable Chrome OS prototypes, code-named Nocturne and Meowth, which seem to include built-in fingerprint sensors. And Samsung was reportedly working on a detachable dubbed "Nautilus," though we haven't heard about that one in a while.

Google and Brydge didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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