Motorola was one of the first companies to introduce an Android phone that you could also use as a pseudo laptop. But the Motorola Atrix 4G and its WebTop laptop dock were a short-lived experiment (although the lapdock found new life as folks used it with Raspberry Pi devices and other mini PCs).
Maybe nobody wanted to use their phones as laptops. Or maybe the Atrix 4G was just ahead of its time in 2011.
Now Motorola is planning to give the smartphone-as-PC thing another try. In a brief video shown during the Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit, Motorola Mobility President Sergio Bunac teased a few upcoming experiences that let you connect your phone to a TV or monitor to use it like a desktop PC, a game console, media streamer, or web conferencing system.
For example, you may soon be able to:
- Connect a desktop monitor or mobile display get a taskbar, desktop, and start menu-like experience that lets you use Android like a desktop operating system with support for multitasking (viewing multiple apps at once in windows that can be maximized, minimized, or moved around the screen). This is similar to Samsung’s DeX mode, and there are third-party Android apps like Taskbar that enable a similar experience. But Motorola would be one of only a handful of companies to offer official support on its phones.
- Connect a TV or monitor and play games on the big screen, navigate a media mode to stream content from services including YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max.
- Turn your phone so the rear camera is facing you, while the phone is connected to a TV to make video calls on the big screen.
Motorola hasn’t officially provided any details about which of its phones will be getting the new features or when they’ll arrive. But according to a report from xda-developers, the new experiences should arrive when Motorola rolls out its version of Android 11. It’s unclear if you’ll need to buy a new phone to get all of the new features or if they’ll also be available for existing Motorola phones via software updates.
Xda-developers says Motorola is also developing a remote desktop feature that will allow you to share your phone’s screen to a desktop computer, transfer files between a PC and Motorola phone, and possibly perform some other actions.
We should have more details early next year, when Motorola is likely to launch the first phones that will ship with the new desktop and TV features.
I have a Samsung phone with Dex and it is a fun novelty but, because it is just Android still, it isn’t that useful (for me). These sorts of phone desktop replacements need to be a full OS. Even a Raspberry Pi, for all its speed limitations, gives a better desktop experience than my S10 DEX does.
What I would love to see is the phone screen runs Android, but the desktop is a “proper” desktop OS
You could try using AnLinux or UserlANd. I don’t actually know what using that is like, but they were described as the answer to the disappearance of Linux on Dex, over here.
I hope they’re building on the Android Desktop mode and making a commitment to making more phones with USB-C HDMI capabilities. Excited to see this, but reserving judgement until they come out with something.
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