What if Android was designed as an operating system for laptop and desktop computers rather than for smartphones and tablets? Then it would probably look a lot like Remix OS.
This custom version of Android was developed by Chinese startup Jide, a company founded by former Google employees. Earlier this year they launched a tablet called the Remix Ultra which looks a lot like a Microsoft Surface. But what really makes it special is that it was the first device to ship with Remix OS, a version of Android with a taskbar, support for running multiple apps in multi-window mode, and a number of other tweaks.
More recently the company launched a Kickstarter campaign for a mini desktop PC called the Remix Mini. The goal was to raise $50 thousand in crowdfunding. After just a few weeks, the project has already raised more than $1 million.
The Remix Ultra tablet also went through Kickstarter on its way to an official launch. But that project raised $210 thousand from 1,278 backers while the Remix Mini has raised far more money from more than 14,000 backers. And the Kickstarter campaign doesn’t close for another three weeks.
So why’s the new model so much more successful? Are people more interested in running Android-as-a-desktop-OS on a real desktop-style computer than on a tablet with a keyboard? Maybe. Price probably plays a major role though.
Jide offered a limited number of tablets for $39 or $199. But after those promotions were finished, the price went up to $349.
Early backers of the Remix Mini campaign were able to reserve a mini PC for as little as $20. That pledge level is sold out, but you can still snag a Remix Mini for as little as $30 (or a model with better specs for $40 or more).
The Remix Mini, by the way, features a 1.2 GHz Allwinner H64 ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor, up to 2GB of RAM, up to 16GB of RAM, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0, and works with HDMI monitors or TVs. The little PC measures about 4.9″ x 3.5″ x 1″.
Jide may also be a higher profile company this summer than it was earlier this year when it launched its first Kickstarter campaign. Remix OS is now shipping on a growing number of devices, including products made by third-party manufacturers such as Cube.
Meanwhile, development of the operating system continues. Remix OS 1.5 was released in July, featuring an Android 5.0 base and updates affecting multitasking, notifications, default email apps, and more. And Remix OS 2.0 is on the way.
Among other things, the next version of the operating system includes a dramatically improved file manager that lets you open multiple windows, drag and drop files from one window to another, and resize windows by dragging their edges.
There are also updates to the notifications, settings, screenshot utility, and other features, as shown in this demo video: