So apparently, Chromebook manufacturers will soon have the option of making Androidbooks (not a word they used, but I guess it makes sense?). The news & commentary site re/code goes over the details, which you can read in full here.
Personally, I like the idea of notebook computers running Android. Android works very well with Google Drive (like Chromebooks), which should be a surprise to no one at this point. Android already supports having multiple accounts on one device (like Chromebooks), tying app installs to accounts (like Chromebooks), and unlike Chromebooks, many of our students are already carrying that OS around with them on their phones.
Chromebooks have a lot of apps … sort of. While there are some very nice ChromeOS apps that can be installed on Chromebooks (or in the Chrome browser on a Mac or PC) and used offline, the “Store” is full of “apps” that are little more than fancy bookmarks for websites. Any of those, provided they don’t use Flash, will run just fine on an Android device already.
Add to that the plethora of apps already available for Android, and you have a very robust ecosystem.
The author of the re/code article brings up a point worth discussing, though, which I’ve included below.
However, a key advantage Chrome has is one of Android’s weaknesses. The mobile OS has suffered a nagging security issues, driven largely by its reliance on carriers and a gamut of device makers to push out updates. As an OS, Chrome is sturdier on security. That’s one reason Google may not ditch Chrome. Its security credentials help it with sales to enterprise, particularly to schools, where Chromebook has seen considerable traction; Gartner said the devices will account for 72 percent of the education market this year.
Ah yes, the horrible security problems found on Android phones. They’re actually pretty scary, particularly if you are a regular listener of Security Now. The solution to the problem is in the same paragraph that asserts it, though.
You see, most phone updates are managed by carriers, and most carriers, for reasons that make sense to corporate types more than programmers, drag their feet when it comes to pushing out updates – even security updates that are not dependent on phones being new enough to handle the most modern OS version.
I love my phone. It’s relatively new, has a nice, large screen, a good enough camera (I have a DSLR if I need to be more serious), and … it’s running Android 4.4.4. There is no hardware issue preventing it from running Android 5. I have another device with lower end hardware that’s running 5 flawlessly. My carrier just won’t push the update out.
Now for years Google has been phasing in a strategy to get around this. Many of Android’s features have been spun into apps with free updates downloadable from the Google Play store, which isn’t managed by the carriers. Legacy hardware is still a serious problem, but over time this will become less of an issue.
And none of that matters, because Androidbooks (as I will continue to call them until told otherwise) will most likely be managed like Chromebooks, with carriers out of the picture all together. There’s an update? Pow! It’s installed! Let’s move on.
Oh, and as I already mentioned, Flash isn’t available on Android. Adobe stopped developing for that platform quite some time ago, so all those Flash security issues that plague all the major browsers shouldn’t be a thing.
So yeah, I’m excited to see Android powered notebook computers possibly becoming a thing in my classroom. It still won’t be fun to edit videos on them, but they can do everything else and they’ll still be cheaper that the typical desktop computer as well.