Although most of the tablet hype the last few months has been centered around Apple’s just-announced iPad, Google has been tinkering around with the idea of loading its still-baking Chrome OS on a multitouch-capable tablet computer—and a few of its mockups have now surfaced. Although the designs are not complete and really just represent the company looking ways of presenting a workable interface on a tablet, they do illustrate ideas for on-screen QWERTY text input, zooming UIs for tabs, contextual actions, launchers, and tab management. And, for added fun, the scaling of the images seems to imply Google is considering a tablet measuring maybe a meter across…although we suspect that’s one of the elements that is “subject to change.”
When Google announced Chrome OS back in July, the focus on the project was clearly netbooks, with goals of providing a fast, lightweight, fast-launching Internet experience for x86 and ARM platforms—which, coincidentally, happens to be the kind of operating system one might want in a tablet computer. The apparently sticking point is touch. Google has been wishy-washy about multitouch capabilities in Chrome OS, and so far multitouch capabilities don’t exist for the platform—multi-touch has even been an issue for the Android smartphone platform: although Android 2.0 has multitouch capabilities, Google has yet to integrate support into many of its own Android applications.
Chrome OS’s approach to applications differs from a traditional operating system in that applications aren’t permitted to run directly on a device’s hardware: instead, all applications are Web applications running within the Chrome browser.
Google’s hardware partners on Chrome OS include Acer—which has already announced its intention to bring a Chrome OS netbook to market this year—along with the likes of Asus, Lenovo, HP, and Texas Instruments.
For more mockups check out Google Chrome OS Tablet Concept Pictures.