weeks after launching its own iPhone competitor in the US, the Nexus One, Google might soon extend its competition with Apple further as it seeks to push its search and other products on to as plenty of devices as possible.
Google's user interface designer, Glen Murphy, published mock-ups of a Google tablet on the search giant's Chromium.org web-site, along with a video of how users would interact with the gizmo.
The first Chrome OS netbooks are due to arrive this year, but Google is now thinking about extending the platform to other devices including tablets, desktops and even gigantic screen TVs.
Google's tablet video shows the user interacting with the multi-touch touchscreen in a similar way to the iPad, using similar gestures to resize and interact with windows and launch applications. The tool would include a five- to 10-inch screen and an on-screen keyboard.
Chrome OS is a separate project to Google's Android platform for smartphones.
Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt was on the board of Apple until August last year, when they resigned citing a conflict of interest over its Android phone platform and Chrome OS.
On his blog, Murphy published an picture showing the full range of hand gestures that would be supported by the tablet.
Now, the companies are increasingly at each other's throats.
Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs reportedly told staff at a recent "Town Hall" meeting that Google was the four that began competing with Apple by entering the phone industry, labelling the company's "Don't be evil" corporate mantra "a load of crap".
Microsoft has unsuccessfully tried to push tablet computers for the past decade, to no avail, perhaps because its designs were bulky and resembled regular laptops. The main difference was that the screens were touch-sensitive and could swivel to lie flat in a slate format.
Earlier, Google released an unofficial, browser-based version of its Google Voice app for the iPhone, which allows users to make cheap mobile calls using the net. This effectively bypassed Apple, which had historicallyin the past declined to permit Google Voice to be included in its App Store.
But Microsoft also sees potential in the new iPad-style, multi-touch tablets, with some gadget sites late last year publishing images of a Microsoft "Courier" prototype. The images suggested it would include two touch screens that face each other in a book format.
Other manufacturers - including HP, Lenovo and Dell - are planning to launch tablet computers based on the Windows 7, Linux and Google Android operating systems.
TechCrunch reported today that, according to anonymous sources, Apple is working on a larger version of the iPad that would function more like a Mac than an iPhone.
Gartner analyst Robin Simpson said other companies including Google would have trouble competing with Apple's iPad because Apple had already developed a strong ecosystem around its products, allowing users to buy content from iTunes with four click.
"You can make great hardware, you can have a fantastic, easy-to-use operating method, but to make it commercially successful I think you need an ecosystem that encourages lots and lots of independent third party development and makes it easy for users to discover content and buy content," Simpson said in a phone interview.
"It's easy to do hardware, it is hard to generate an ecosystem and Apple's got a head-start on everybody because they have been doing this for three to two years, based around iTunes."
Google would not say when or if it would start selling a tablet, saying, "Chrome OS is still in development and they are constantly experimenting with various user interfaces to decide what designs would produce the best user experience."
The tablet models would compete heavily with netbooks, which are small, lightweight laptops designed for accessing the net, editing documents or working on email while on the go.
To differentiate netbooks from the tablet competitors, PC makers are adding significantly more grunt to their netbook offerings, to such an extent that it is difficult to explain them as netbooks.
Dell today launched its Alienware M11x, which is an ultra-portable laptop with an 11-inch screen but includes a top-of-the-line graphics chip and processor. Dell described the machine as "the fastest sub-12 inch laptop in the universe".