Rumour of the day: Was the Google Pixel C really meant to run Chrome OS?

Google’s Pixel C Android tablet has received a mix of positive reviews, mediocre reviews, and downright scathing reviews. But one consistent criticism has been that the version of Android running on the device is more than a little buggy, with screen touches and keyboard presses occasionally going missing in action.

Rumour of the day: Was the Google Pixel C really meant to run Chrome OS?

Ron Amadeo, writing at Ars Technica, has a theory for this: perhaps the Pixel C was never meant to run Android at all, instead being designed for Google’s other operating system, ChromeOS.

Ron’s theory runs like this: back in July 2014, commentators spotted references to a new motherboard in ChromeOS source code. Called “Ryu”, this board had a light bar, USB-C support, Nvidia Tegra SoC and more. This sounds pretty much like the Pixel C.

But there’s even more compelling evidence buried in the Android source code for Pixel C. Open up the build.prop file, and you’ll find a line referring to “” listed in the properties. Given the match between the old ChromeOS source and the description of Pixel C as “ryu”, it’s safe to say that – at some point in development – this device was meant to run ChromeOS.

Of course, how long ago the switch from ChromeOS to Android was, we can’t say. Perhaps “Ryu” was only intended to be a ChromeOS device for a few months, switching to Android relatively early on. And the reasons for the switch are also not certain. Does it indicate a strategic shift towards Android and away from ChromeOS? Or is it something more simple than that – the realisation that, despite Chromebooks having touchscreens going back to the original Chromebook Pixel, touch on the web is still in its infancy, with most web apps not optimised for touch.

Either way, it poses a question we’d like an answer to: is Google still truly committed to the Chromebook, which has found successful niches (such as education) without truly taking off? Or will the company put all its eggs in the Android basket now?

NEXT: Find out what we thought of the Pixel C

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