New reports indicate that Google is actively intervening in the fate of hardware for future Android phones, and even considering making their own processors. In a pair of paywalled reports, The Information’s Amir Efrati claims Google is looking for partners to develop chips based on the company’s designs, and that Google is approaching hardware makers with a detailed laundry list of hardware upgrades related to camera, sensor, and memory functionality.
The hardware requests and chip plans seem focused on two very specific areas: leveraging higher performance out of cloud services and–more interestingly, in this writer’s opinion–preparing Android phones to have highly enhanced virtual reality and augmented reality functions. Augmented reality, especially, depends on layering constantly updating data visualizations on top of video output in real time. This causes considerable hardware strain and is a pain point for both Android manufacturers and their rivals over at Apple.
Google’s early-stage foray into the virtual reality world, Google Cardboard, has been a success; many virtual reality headsets coming to market, such as Samsung Gear VR, also depend on Android smartphones to work.
According to The Information, Google has hired a senior product executive from chip manufacturer Qualcomm, as well as engineers from the Apple-acquired semiconductor firm P.A. Semi. One of the ongoing challenges Google faces for the Android operating system is standardizing the performance of phones from the many, many manufacturers on the market. While Apple is able to offer a consistent experience from phone to phone, Android phones vary wildly in experience and performance.
Fast Company has reached out to Google for comment and will update this article as needed.