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Google preps tablet-friendly Chrome that knows 'what's up'

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As part of its effort to graduate its Chrome browser to the upcoming Chrome OS, Google is working to add device orientation to the browser's capabilities.

Not that orientation — the ability for an app or OS to know that up is up and down is down — is all that revolutionary of a breakthrough. Developers have been tapping to that ability on the iPhone (UIDeviceOrientation) and Android-based devices (SensorManager) for some time.

But adding it into the browser itself is another step towards the Google Grail: the browser as operating system.

This latest development in the open-source, WebKit-based Chromium project was discovered by Cnet, which spotted Googly bug-ID references on the WebKit Bugzilla bug-tracking site: 41616, "[Chromium] DeviceOrientation plumbing", and 44654, "Add orientation event to Chromium" among other orientation, uh, oriented notes such as 30335, 38588, 39210, and 39589.

Google isn't alone in its efforts to add orientation sensing to its browser. As The Reg noted last October, Mozilla is including an orientation API in Firefox 3.6.

But Firefox isn't an operating system, and Google's Chrome OS will be. Google has said that Chrome OS will debut in "late fall", with devices running on it to follow close behind. When they do, expect developers to use "[Chromium] DeviceOrientation plumbing" not only to allow a Chrome OS tablet to display photos right side up, but also to power games such as the Apple iPad's Real Racing HD and Labyrinth 2 HD. ®

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