Fireside Chat with Chrome/OS Team – Ask The Chrome

Hey guys, how many of you use Google Chrome browser as their default browser. If your answer is yes, then you would really be excited to read this article. Meet the people behind the Google Chrome, and ask them about latest updates only at Google I/O 2012.

Here is the fireside chat with Chrome/OS. I am summarizing it here in my own words.

There were a lot of questions asked. Almost all questions were related to new operating system by Google called as Chrome/OS.


The third day of Google I/O started with several sessions on Android, Chrome, and more. I decided to attend the Fireside chat with the Chrome and Chrome OS teams. On stage from left to right are:

  • Jeff Chang, product manager on the Chrome Browser. His favorite new feature is tab synching.
  • Alex Komoroske, product manager on Chrome. Web components are his favorite area of Chrome.
  • Erik Kay, engineer in the Chrome team. Has been on the team for almost 6 years. He has worked on auto-update, extensions, native client, and more. He’s most excited about web apps.
  • Ian Elison-Taylor, director of product manager for the web platform. He says what’s coming with the new generation apps will be a game changer. Also he’s excited about tooling.
  • Pavel Feldman, software engineer on developer tools. His focus areas are memory management, heap profiling, and remote debugging for mobile.
  • Felix Lin, product team for Chrome OS. He’s most excited about the Samsung ChromeBook and ChromeBox that were just released.

After introductions, the floor was turned over to questions.

Q: Will it be possible to close tabs on other devices?

A: Interesting feature request, we’ll have to think about that.

Q: What’s the roadmap for VPN on ChromeOS?

A: Already supported, and we’re working on improving management.

Q: Is anything in the works to improve drag and drop interop between web apps? For example drag an attachment out of GMail and drop it into some other app.

A: That’s a great use case. There isn’t a standard for that but the closest thing is Web Intents. That lets you have a loose coupling between apps like GMail and others. We think Web Intents are a big deal. Sites can interoperate without hard coded relationships.

Q: What features are missing from the web platform that will help drive offline app usage?

A: We have local storage, app cache, index db, and others. Thinking about your app as offline by default gives you a new perspective. People think, we have connectivity everywhere, why do we need offline? Sometimes you have spotty connectivity. Sometimes you’re at a trade show and WiFi can’t keep up. Making your apps resilient to these condition takes some forethought. Assume you’re offline and have your code run locally to begin with. Then sync to the server as you have connectivity.

Q: When will the mobile Android version of Chrome catch up, especially with WebGL?

A: It’s under development. There are performance issues and security issues so we’re trying to work through those with the OEMs. Generally when we do new features we’re thinking about mobile. Everything will go to mobile sooner or later but there is a bit of a lag.

Q: Any plans for a power nap feature in Chrome OS like the one in MacOS 10.8?

A: We’re definitely looking at the feature, working with Intel and other hardware partners, but don’t know when it will be available. The great thing about Chrome OS is that new features will roll out automatically. When we spec the hardware we try to look ahead and get capabilities in there even if we don’t use it right away. We’re looking into the ability of having Chrome wake up apps, let them do a little work, and then go back to sleep.

Q: Will I ever be able to run Chrome OS on a tablet? Maybe even a Nexus 7 tablet?

A: There’s nothing about Chrome OS that says we can’t run on a tablet. Our first form factor was the clam shell. We’re bringing all the capabilities of Chrome to Android. The goal is to bring a seamless experience to all devices.

Q: How will the two OS’s (Android and Chrome OS) eventually converge?

A: Chrome OS is designed for end to end computing experience. Chrome for Android came out of beta this week. You’ll see more and more convergence over time.

Q: Any plans for Chrome notifications?

A: We have something like that behind the scenes. We expect to see messaging systems converge between Chrome and Android.

Q: What are your plans of bringing Chrome apps to mobile?

A: We’re planning to do that but it is too early to say what the timing will be. We need your feedback. And we are hiring – come make help this happen.

Q: Will we be able to run Chrome apps the same way as native apps?

A: Yes, we want to launch them from the native desktop.

Q: Will we have private key ssh?

A: It’s a top feature request and it will happen, not sure of the timing.

Q: Why was the change to change to the Chrome OS desktop made?

A: User feedback. People told us they wanted it to work more like a traditional desktop. On a large monitor, a single large window with tabs looks a little weird. When multitasking you need a quick way to switch between apps. And if you don’t like the new UI you can still make it full screen and use tabs. With the Chrome Box we can support dual 30″ monitors. Also we found a psychological impact about making everything look like a web page – some preconceived notions about what a web page could do that were getting in the way.

Spinning window easter egg: Ctrl+Alt+Refresh. There’s another one that was in the keynote, try to find it.

Q: Currently the Chrome Book runs on Intel. Android usually runs on ARM. Is there anything inherent that makes it difficult for Chrome OS to run on an ARM chip?

A: Can’t talk about future products but there’s nothing about Chrome OS that commits it to a particular architecture. Many hardware vendors have ported it. It’s more a matter of timing and price point and packaging. Phones and tablets have smaller screens, which need less memory bandwidth, and ARM chipsets were designed for that environment. Now that tablets are getting more pixels they’ve had to solve those bandwidth problems so we think we’re on the cusp of seeing more ARM form factors.

Q: Any plans for app synching?

A: Yes, it exists today. There’s a key/value store you can use. Also user data can be stored on Google Drive. Sync is a huge part of our overall strategy.

Q: What plans do you have for Chrome OS in the enterprise, on management enhancements, on supporting over 1000 printers, etc.?

A: Version 21 has cloud print integrated more directly. The dialog has a search box so it can handle lots of printers. Go to the cloud print session later today to talk to that team. Enterprise management is one of Chrome OS’s big strengths. Dropping in a thousand new devices and not having to image them is a key feature. If there is more we need to do, ask us and file bugs.

Q: What’s the state within Google of getting employees to use Chrome OS instead of desktop computers? In other words, eating your own dogfood?

A: Definitely there for the Chrome browser. Many of us carry around ChromeBooks. We use multiple devices and operating systems. Internal use has skyrocketed. Employees have access to whatever computer they want. We don’t force people to dogfood it.

The fact you see more and more Googlers, who have the pick of any hardware they want, walking around with ChromeBooks it’s pretty remarkable. Open them up and they work instantly, fire off an email, and close it in under a minute while a Windows box might still be running antivirus software.

(Erik Kay) I use ChromeBook exclusively and its pretty common within Google. The IT staff within Google loves it and they want more people to switch over as soon as they can. Googlers are a really demanding audience. A lot of them are doing heavy duty development. New generation hardware is fast enough. They always want more powerful and different form factors of course. But rate of growth is going through the roof.

Q: It’s great you’re filling in the holes.

A: I like the battery life on ChromeBook. Often I’ll not carry a machine with me when I visit other Google offices. I can grab a ChromeBook and borrow it and log on, and hand it back at the end of the day. I don’t have to worry about what was left on the machine or going through security. That’s an important use case.

Q: What can you say about international availability of ChromeBooks, esp. New Zealand?

A: New CBs are available in the US and UK, and we’re working on certifying them in more countries as soon as possible. Demand for new CBs greatly exceeded expectations so it’s just a matter of time.

Q: Why does Chrome on iOS run slower than Safari?

A: It was released yesterday. Chrome is #1 and Drive is #2 in the iOS app store today. We have to follow Apple’s specifications and use UIWebView. Performance has to be considered on a number of axes. How fast is it to just get around is one, and raw compute performance is another.

Apple doesn’t allow you to run your own Jit’d JavaScript engine or your own renderer. UIWebView turns off the use of Jit (just in time compiling) and it affects some of the GPU acceleration. Raw “spinning the loop” kind of tests aren’t going to be as fast.

The good news is that’s not the whole story. Usability is helped by sync, the omni box, prefetching, and other tricks that we can do beyond the Javascript and web rendering. Benchmark A-B tests show we’re slow. If you see reviews that actually try to use it, with autocomplete and tabs and so on, your overall performance is faster.

Q: When are you bringing extensions like omnibox autocomplete to mobile?

A: We’re bringing things over but we have to pay special attention to performance. We’re working on reducing resources for extensions to make them more adaptable for mobile. No time frame on when it will be available.

Q: Can you print without Google Cloud Print?

A: Today you can use legacy printers using cloud print to any printer on the network. Most new printers are cloud print enabled.

Q: Google is giving my daughter’s school some Chrome OS netbooks. Is that just a local thing?

A: Lots of schools around the country are adopting ChromeBooks. Education is one of the most agressive verticals adopting Chrome OS. It’s very low cost, and always up to date. Schools have shrinking budgets and no IT staff, which is a great fit for ChromeBook. Also we see uptake in emerging markets. Instead of 20 students to 1 computer, having 1 to 1 is transformational.

Q: Will Chrome Web store be supported on iOS?

A: We want to support extensions on other platforms but it will take time.

Q: Will Chrome on iOS support URL schemes?

A: Don’t know.

Q: I want to use ChromeBook as a web development platform with HTML and JS on Google Drive. What app can I use for text editing, and how can I run HTML from GDrive?

A: Text editors are available in the Canary version (early adoption branch). There’s a micro editor checked into Github but it’s early and very simple. We expect a plethora of editors. Some IDEs are in the web store now. We’re providing them with the extension APIs so they can plug into instrumentation and have remote persistence and debugging. Don’t know about running HTML from Drive.


About Wajahat Karim (GamyGuru)

I am Wajahat Karim living in Islamabad, Pakistan. I am currently a Facebook Game Developer at White Rabbit Studios, Islamabad. I am passionate about game development for Android, iPhone, browsers, computers and more. I just wanna say that "Me, The Entertainer, Coz Everyone Needs Entertainment .... :D"

Posted on June 30, 2012, in Android, GamyGuru, Google IO 2012, News, Technology. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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