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Is There a Chrome Tablet Finally on the Horizon?

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … no it’s just Google expanding again. What started out as the little search engine that could in 1996 is now a multinational corporation that refuses to be bested in anything tech. With that in mind, the world wants to know if Google is looking to take its Chrome OS on the road in tablet form … yet again.

The Chrome tablet is really just a concept. Google already does a tablet product – Nexus 7 – called by reviewers the best mini tablet on the market, in fact. It isn’t, however, an open-faced version of Chromebook – something many believe is bound to happen.

The Big Rumor of 2010

It was Black Friday 2010 and shoppers were waiting patiently for news of something Googlish on the horizon. For years, there were rumors of a Chrome OS tablet built by HTC. The latest buzz indicated a release date in time for the big holiday shopping season, but Black Friday came and went without the world ever seeing the new product. The next year, Google announced it had no plans to run its Chrome OS on a tablet system.

Signs of Things to Come

The rumor mill never quite gave up on the idea of a Chrome tablet. Google designers tend to live by the motto: “If we don’t do it, we’re pretty sure someone else will.” If you follow that line of thinking, it makes sense that a Chrome tablet would always be a possibility. The fact that Google remains tight-lipped about the idea just fuels the fire.

The truth may very well be in the line code, however. In 2011, tech blogs began reporting changes in the source code that reveal tablet maneuvering was afoot. There is clear indication in the latest updates for Chrome OS that a tablet is indeed looming.

  • User-agent string – a line that allows web servers to deliver the right browser version for each device now includes code for touch interfaces

  • Google introduced a virtual keyboard to Chrome OS

  • Designers increased the space around screen objects to make the browser “touch-friendly”

The biggest change seen to date is in the most recent one. In 2013, Google announced that Chrome OS would support screen rotation. It is unlikely that thousands of Chromebook users are flipping their laptops around trying to get a better view. There is really only one reason to add screen rotation – to make the platform suitable for a tablet system.

The tablet rumors have been churning for years, but they have always been just that – rumors. It is hard to deny the changes at Google this year, however. For example, Sundar Pichai took over the Android division from Andy Rubin. If you take Google at its word, there is no Chrome tablet on the design board. If you look at the signs, however, it is a little hard to believe that Google is not moving in that direction.