Still don’t believe that Chromebooks are out to get Android tablets? This latest clue could be one of the nails on that Android coffin. While Chromebooks have always been designed as portable devices, give or take a few grams, they haven’t exactly been completely portable because of one thing: reliance on Wi-Fi connectivity. That could be changing in the next generation of Chrome OS devices with signs that Chrome OS is getting support for eSIMs that will integrate with Google’s own Project Fi as well as other carriers’ networks.
It’s still too early to break out the champagne for fans of Chrome OS and eSIMs. The sign was spotted by XDA in a code review for the open source Chromium code on which Chrome and Chrome OS is based. It’s pretty straightforward though and talks about a certain “Project Hermes” with the aforementioned capabilities.
“Hermes is the codename for the project of implementing eSIM support for Chrome OS. Hermes will be responsible for delivering messages between devices with eSIM chips and carrier servers through profile downloads as well as service discovery for new carriers.”
eSIM technology has been around for quite a while now but very few OEMs have actually embraced it. Google did with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL and so did Apple with some of its more recent iPads. Support for the technology in Chrome OS would ultimately make Chromebooks useful in any situation even when outside the range of Wi-Fi networks.
This will be particularly useful for those tablet-like Chromebooks and it’s not that difficult to see why Google is suddenly pushing this new feature. It will be facing some stiff competition in the space with Apple’s new and cheaper iPads and Microsoft’s “always connected” Windows 10 on ARM initiative. With eSIM support, Chrome OS could level out the playing field again.
But, again, it’s still to early to say whether this will end well or not. In addition to the code not yet landing in stable versions, eSIMs would require a new batch of hardware. That would mean that only new Chromebooks would benefit from this always connected capability.