Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) isn't content to simply attack Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) desktop hegemonies with Chrome Operating System, the company's lightweight Web operating system for laptops.
A recent patent filing by the search engine giant hints that it might build desktops and laptops based on its Android software, which to this point has been limited to smartphones, tablets, and the occasional household appliance or other odd device implementations.
Patently Apple said a new Google patent suggests functionalities similar to Apple's Multi-Touch Trackpad and Magic Trackpad. That is, capabilities for trackpad operations corresponding to touch-screen events.
Specifically, trackpad operations may be directly mapped to touch-screen events and processed by applications. In one implementation, a user may move a single finger on the trackpad device to cause a displayed pointer to move on a display device of the computing device.
The user may also touch or tap a single finger on the trackpad device to deliver a simulated touch-screen finger tap at the current pointer location as displayed on the display device.
Patently Apple showed a diagram from Google's patent depicting a computing device that may be configured to map trackpad operations to corresponding touch-screen events.
As one would imagine, the multitouch trackpad instantiation would work similar to the trackpad, albeit with two fingers instead of one. Users could drag, scroll, fling or even pinch-to-zoom content much as they would on a tablet computer. However, this technology would also be used in netbooks and laptops.
Patently Apple speculated that Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) could expand its support for Android beyond smartphones to power Ultrabooks with its "Haswell" processor chips, designed to create harmony between notebooks and tablets, in 2013.
A Google spokesperson was noncommittal about the patent filing, telling eWEEK: "We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications."
IDC analyst Al Hilwa said mobile and desktops are converging, with the real battle being fought between congruent end-to-end developer and device ecosystems built around these platforms. Ultimately, this means Google, Apple and Microsoft will be stomping around in each other's sandboxes.
"I have no doubt that Google will eventually push Android harder into other form factors," Hilwa told eWEEK.
"Android device makers and developers would love this opportunity to expand their reach and leverage their invested skills. Chrome OS may be seen as a play in this area, but its pure Web approach does not really leverage the app economy in the same way Android does. In many ways you are seeing Google respond to Microsoft's serious effort to take the PC into the mobile world by moving Android to the PC world."