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Story updated with comments from Google spokesman.



) --


meet the gPad.



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was loudly

launching its iPad last week,


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quietly unveiled what its Chrome operating system

will look like on tablet computers.

Google posted a

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mock-up of a Chrome OS tablet

on a Web site devoted to the company's Chromium project, which refers to the open source developer work behind the Chrome OS and Web browser.

The Chrome OS, which runs on top of the Linux kernel, is a direct




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dominance in the PC market and will also intensify

competition between Google and Apple

. Chrome is expected to launch in the second half of the year and is an extension of Google's Chrome Web browser. It will initially be targeted at netbooks -- and tablets.

The site says that Chrome will explore the possibility of creating multiple browsers on tablet screens. On another


, Google explains that, for tablet computers with 5-inch to 10-inch screens, the user interface would be adjusted to handle "larger touch targets" such as icons.

The mock-ups feature different-sized touchscreen keyboards as well as tabs alongside the screen. The side tabs offer links to programs like Gmail, although the site says that Google is exploring two other forms of interface, "classic" and "compact." The classic style uses a single maximized window with a URL tab at the top of the page, whereas the compact version removes the address bar.

Google stresses that all the designs are "subject to change," but that hasn't stopped them from helping to fuel the rabid

interest in tablets.

Despite continued skepticism about

whether or not there will be broad demand

for large touchscreen devices, a host of other companies recently debuted tablet computers, including


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Apple's iPhone has certainly proved users' appetite for touchscreen features, and Google is already making a play to lure developers onto its platform. By touting an open source operating system such as Chrome, the search giant is attempting to set itself up as a viable alternative to Apple.

Google is nonetheless keeping specific details of its tablet strategy close to its chest, such as whether it's planning to build its own tablet and the launch date for a tablet-based Chrome OS.

"Google Chrome OS is still in development and we are constantly experimenting with various user interfaces to determine what designs would produce the best user experience," wrote a Google spokesman, in an email to


. "As we've said all along, the UI is still under development and will continue to evolve as we determine which designs work best for our users."

The company's shares rose $5.94, or 1.12%, to $537.06 on Wednesday, despite a modest dip in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq slip 0.06%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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