This may be the year that using your smartphone as if it were a desktop PC goes mainstream. Or at least that’s what a few different companies seem to be hoping.

The makers of Remix OS have announced that they’re bringing their custom version of Android to smartphones… and supporting a feature called Singularity that allows you to plug in a monitor and view apps in a desktop-style mode with a taskbar and multi-window support.

And there’s mounting evidence that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 will have a similar feature, called DeX.

The first rumors regarding DeX starting making the rounds last month, when a Samsung patent application for a desktop dock called DeX was uncovered.

This week Android Police noticed a series of pictures of the Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone in an alleged system dump for the upcoming Galaxy Tab S3 tablet… and one picture shows the Galaxy S8 sitting in a desktop docking station with the word “DeX” across the screen.

The dock is plugged into an external display, which is showing what appear to be multiple apps running in floating windows, and system trays on the bottom of the screen which could be used to show status or notifications.

In other words, it sure looks like you’ll be able to sit your phone in a dock to run Android apps on a bigger screen and interact with them as if you were using a desktop PC.

Android-based operating systems are actually a bit late to the party here. Microsoft has been offering a Continuum for Phone feature for Windows 10 Mobile since last year… but Windows has a pretty tiny market share on smartphones and a pretty limited selection of Continuum-compatible apps.

Likewise, Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system for smartphones and tablets has a feature called Convergence that allows you to interact with a mobile user interface when using a touchscreen-only device, or a desktop-style view when a keyboard and mouse is detected (an external display is optional). But Ubuntu phone has an even smaller market share than Windows 10 Mobile.

There’s definitely a wow factor at play here: you can use your phone as a desktop! It’s the only device you’ll ever need!

But at this point most laptop and desktop computers tend to have more powerful hardware than your typical smartphone… although that might not be true for much longer (there are a growing number of phones with more than 4GB of RAM and full HD or higher resolution displays, after all). More importantly, though, it remains to be seen whether mobile apps will be capable enough to replace the software people have become accustomed to using on desktops.

If the idea does take off though, maybe developers will continue adding new features to mobile apps so that the functionality gap between desktop and mobile versions of software like Office or Photoshop won’t look so big in the future.

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12 replies on “Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone may support external displays with desktop mode”

  1. This feature will make it even more explosive, if that is at all possible. Without any doubt, Samsung is on fire, and this phone will become a flaming success that will sear away the competition.

  2. Win 10 Mobile is dead and going to be replaced by full Win 10 Arm PC phones using Snapdragon 835 chips in what MS calls Celluar PC’s.

    What sets them apart is x86 emulation and native Arm Win32 apps support so anything on your regular x86 PC will run on this cell pc either via emulation or native via UWP or Arm Win32.

    So these make much more sense as the desktop mode will run anything, no limits.

  3. Ubuntu for smartphones never really launched and now never will. Google need to get on with integrating adaptable UI in their OS though.

      1. It doesn’t look like they were able to secure hardware partners. After a few small runs with a couple of devices they haven’t had anything in a while.

        1. Well, that’s a good thing in my books. Canonical’s track record mimicks that of Cynogen Inc.

          Google had a decent adaptable UI system in the works during the 4.0.3 hayday….but now they don’t really care about Tablets, TVs, PCs, Cars, or Watches.

          Google really only cares about Ads and Phones. See Pixel.

  4. Moto Z was supposed to have a OneCompute dock enabling functionality reminiscent of continuum. Not sure if they cancelled it or just delayed. Maybe Samsung’s move will spur them to revive it.

      1. The Motorola Atrix 4G did it first, but it was very clunky both hardware and software wise.

        Need something in the API-OS level, that way even lazy developers benefit and it won’t leave a sour experience to the end user.

        I’m positive Google is looking into it from their Android Team, wether it ever comes into fruition is another thing entirely.

  5. still have my motorola lapdock collecting dust long after my Motorola Atrix 4G has bit the dust. thing is like brand new and I can’t bring myself to toss it out.

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