Google's Android, Chrome software may converge, exec change suggests
The engineering teams for both software platforms are now led by the same person, a move that's the latest example of Google blurring the lines between its two operating systems.
Richard NievaFormer senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Google may want one software platform to rule them all.
A top Google executive in charge of engineering for the company's Android mobile operating system is now also overseeing engineering for Chrome, software primarily used for personal computers, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's vice president of Android engineering, has taken on the duties of Linus Upson, his counterpart in the Chrome division. Upson has left the role, according to The Wall Street Journal, which earlier reported the news. While Lockheimer takes over engineering for Chrome OS, he won't be responsible for other Chrome-related products, including the Chrome Web browser, Chromecast TV streaming stick or Chromebook laptop hardware, according to the Journal.
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.
The move underscores the growing ties between the two operating systems, with Android primarily used on mobile devices including smartphones and tablets and Chrome used on personal computers. Both the Android and Chrome teams already report to Sundar Pichai, who has led the groups since 2013. Android is already the most widely used mobile operating system in the world, with more than 80 percent of the market, according to market researcher IDC. Bringing the two operating systems together would help ease the burden on developers, who have to create applications for both platforms to reach users on mobile devices and PCs.
The leadership move makes sense given that Google has made a push to expand Android beyond smartphones and tablets. At the company's I/O developer conference in June, Google showed off initiatives to have the software power everything from wearable devices like smartwatches to television sets to car dashboards.
"I think the idea is, you look around and there are all these screens everywhere," Lockheimer told CNET last month when asked about the expansion of Android. "These screens don't know how to talk to each other. They are islands."
"So how do we unify them and have a common platform where apps and services and information can flow between these screens and give more utility to your life?" he said.
Google has already been blurring the lines between Android and Chrome. At I/O, Pichai announced a plan to help app developers easily adapt their Android apps for use with Chrome. Last month, the company announced it had partnered with the first batch of app makers to bring their Android apps to Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks. Those apps include language-learning aid Duolingo, productivity app Evernote, children's literacy system Sight Words and video-looping Vine.
"Wouldn't it be nice to get some of your favorite applications on your Chromebook?" Pichai said at the conference. "We want this to be intuitive for users. For developers, we want this to work with as little modification as possible."