Google’s play at the laptop market with its Chromebook lineup has worked out pretty well so far, but the company may be preparing to take Chrome OS to the next level with an upcoming update. References to a new Athena window manager spotted on the Chromium issue site suggests Google could be preparing to unveil a touch-friendly version of its Chrome-based operating system.
Athena would replace Ash, the two-year old Chrome OS windows manager, which works well enough on regular laptops but isn’t really optimized for touchscreen devices. Based on a handful of clues spotted by GigaOm, the next version of Chrome OS could include a card-based interface like Google Now, a new home screen called Ares, and a Surface-style split screen mode called “overview.” The Chromium website also suggests that Athena could support gyroscopes and accelerometers.
It’s tough to say what will actually make it into Athena, but assuming everything here is included in the updated windows manager we could be looking at a very different version of Chrome OS in the near future. Chrome OS tablets have seemed like an inevitability for a while now, and Athena could make them a reality. It could also mean more touchscreen Chromebooks, and maybe a wearable Chrome OS device or even a Chrome phone.
It’s too early to know anything for sure, but it looks like some big changes are coming to Chrome OS, though how the updated operating system will interact or compete with Google’s own Android OS remains to be seen.