I remember the first Apple Macintosh which had only 512K of RAM. Hard disk was optional and if you needed one, it came in MB instead of GBs. Fast forward to your Android and iOS device. If you compared that which you now hold in your hand, you are actually in possession of a Mainframe computer in 80s definition. Now Mainframes are just a class below the Super Computers in its day—developed to solve complex mathematical problems. Performances of Mainframes are measured in MIPS, and in its day, anything that performs approximately 15 MIPS is a mainframe.
So with that in mind, why not turn your hand held into a computer? This is what most tablet manufacturers want to do, and the Asus Fonepad is just one example. But the UX is somewhat different. The usability with a mouse and a large screen becomes clunky as both iOS and Android were developed for hand held use. Android OS allows you to create a navigation layer on top of the default OS and this was its main appeal in the first place.
This is where Apple’s iOS gets left behind. There is no way to turn your iOS device in a full fledge desktop even if you tried. But for Android, things get interesting with Andromium.
The idea was no doubt hatched from Chromium OS, the Google operating system for Chrome Browser. This cloud centric OS is slowly becoming a worthy stand alone device so much so that Microsoft is now battling with Google for control for the netbook/cloud computing hardware.
Andromium is a Kickstarter project, where a dock is used to enable your Android device to work as a desktop. This dock is super cool and allows you to connect up a mouse, HD TV and a keyboard to make your Android device truly usable at home as a Desktop computer.
This disruptive technology will allow you to replace that notebook PC you carry along on your business trips as all you need are the cables for the hotel HDTV, wireless keyboard and mouse to get you going. Internet connection is secondary as apps for word processing, drawing, presentation and spreadsheets already work off line. You only need to connect up with wifi should you want to send or receive data.
According to the development blog at Andromium, they are sorting out some of the caveats of some of the popular handsets. One of the most pressing problem is the ability to have simultaneous USB-OTG and Display Out as some of these functions are often disabled when a port is used for either USB or Display Out. The support list is growing and for now, LG, HTC, Samsung and even OPPO is to be supported via this unique dock.
The dock includes three full-sized USB ports for all the accessories you would need on a desktop computer, including gaming devices. It connects to your screen using an HDMI cable and has an integrated power cord, so your phone is always charged.
For those without the benefit of having a HDMI capable TV or monitor at your disposal, you can always use a PICO projector that cost in the ballpark of US$150.
Andromium is all about the software and how it creates a layer on top of Google’s Android to make it easier to use apps in desktop mode. This also means that once in desktop mode, the phone continues to work as a smart device, receiving all your calls and text—which makes it even more useful that your notebook computer. For additional storage, one of the USB ports could easily support an external HD, which will give your device more functionality than Chromium based netbooks.
iOS can never allow you to replace the UI, and adding a layer to iOS is sacrilege. Tim Cook would come round to your front door one day to blow you to bits with a shotgun if it came down to it.
How Mobile is Disrupting the Notebook Business
This is bound to happen and I think Google, Apple and Microsoft knows this. The Andromium dock will sell for less than 50 bucks once launched (when successfully backed) after their kickstarter campaign and if you did the maths, you’d know that your desktop or notebook computer may well be your next door stopper when it launches.
With mobile devices packing more RAM and quad core processors, any casual PC user would find its appeal difficult to resist. You have storage access to the cloud if you are online and with the right hardware accessories such as a HD, HDMI display, mouse and keyboard, there is no further need to duplicate purchases on a desktop environment.
Mobility is helping to define this new technology in spaces we never thought possible and I am all for it. You can support the Andromium project here.