Forget Chromebooks! Your Android Phone Could Soon Run ChromeOS

ChromeOS on Pixel 7 Pro
Image: Shutterstock
In Short
  • Google's Ferrochrome project brings ChromeOS to Android.
  • Ferrochrome is a virtualized build of ChromiumOS that's made to support and run on Android.
  • It's still in the early stages and as a result, many things are broken right now.

ChromeOS and Android are two different and significant pieces of Google’s ecosystem puzzle, and the giant has made strides to improve their interconnectivity. However, it looks like Google’s experimenting with running ChromeOS on Android for some reason, and while I have tons of theories in my head as to why they’re doing it, here’s every detail you need to know about Google’s recent stunt.

Android users may know that their devices can technically be used as a desktop by connecting a keyboard and a mouse. However, ChromeOS has drastically improved over the last decade and offers a much better desktop experience than when you try to use Android as a desktop OS.

Google calls the project Ferrochrome and the initial commits are already available on the Chromium Gerrit. Google recently showed off a demo of this project to companies at an event. Android expert Mishaal Rahman was able to compile and run a Ferrochrome build on a Pixel 7 Pro.

Ferrochrome is essentially a ChromeOS VM built with the open-source version of ChromeOS. Mishaal says it can run on any Tensor-powered Pixel device using Android’s Virtualization Framework. However, to run the VM right now, you have to be running a custom build of Android from AOSP and Google’s VM launcher app.

As you may have guessed, since the project is in its initial stages, most of the stuff doesn’t seem to work. It is quick to boot, though. Google’s documentation also suggests that it should be possible to run more operating systems via the project in the future.

Are Chromebooks in Danger?

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It sure looks like it. Bringing fully-fledged ChromeOS to Android devices risks the extinction of Chromebooks, maybe that’s what Google wants to do, or maybe not. Perhaps, ChromeOS on Android might not be as comprehensive as ChromeOS on Chromebooks; it’s too soon to speculate. However, if Google aims to bring a complete ChromeOS experience to Android, we might have a new joiner in the Google Graveyard in the future with the name Chromebooks.

It also makes us wonder if Ferrochrome has anything to do with improving ChromeOS on ARM, especially with Snapdragon X Elite CPUs around the corner. We leave it to your imagination as it’s, again, too soon to speculate.

What are your thoughts on ChromeOS on Android? Let us know in the comments below.

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