back to article Just look at Q! Watch out Microsoft, the next Android has a proper desktop PC mode

Google has released the first official cut of 2019's Android to developers, including a secret "desktop mode" for external displays, and support for pholdables*. Q is the 10th major platform release of the software that dominates the smartphone market (Android has a market share north of 85 per cent**). The desktop mode was …

  1. AIBailey
    Stop

    pholdables

    As we must now call them

    Don't.

    Just don't.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Re: pholdables

      Phlappables?

      Philophones?

      Anyway - didn't apple get there first with foldable phones?

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: pholdables

      Heavens no! We must, of course, call them "pholdies"...

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: pholdables

        How about a book phone:

        Bhones...

        Phooks?

        OR!!!

        A Folding phone -

        FONE!

        1. Ian Watkinson

          Re: pholdables

          ???

          Surely you mean Phone Book!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: pholdables

          Phook? Off.

        3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: pholdables

          Benders.

          ...is my suggestion. Not a comment.

    3. Come to the Dark Side

      Re: pholdables

      Reverse Clamshell?

      I like to imagine that this latest fad came about when someone put the hinges on the wrong way in a prototyping meeting and got away with it...

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        Re: pholdables

        Clap Trap

        Claptrap

        Clap for short

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: pholdables

        Or an exec had something new suggested to him by the latest hooker. "Reverse what?" "Oh, cowgirl. For a moment I was thinking about the job there."

    4. ChrisC

      Re: pholdables

      One wonders if the engineering teams designing pholdables will be required to use Phabricator for project planning... if you thought "pholdable" was groanworthy, Phabricator is full of similarly mangled names for stuff, based on the phaulty notion that replacing "f" with "ph" is phun and phunky. PhML...

      1. Colemanisor

        Re: pholdables

        Phuq that!

    5. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: pholdables

      Phucking Phoolishess, that's what it is.

    6. tempemeaty
      Thumb Up

      Re: pholdables

      Fondlefolders™️

      or

      Phondlefolders™️

      (⊃╹◡╹)⊃━☆゚.*・。゚

    7. VikiAi Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: pholdables

      P-off!

      I still fall back to my preferred contraction of Mobile Phone: "MoFo"

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Watch out Microsoft?

    Not so sure about that. Microsoft has already embraced Android with its Office apps. No, I think Apple should be more worried about this as further evidence of IOS falling behind technologically.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Watch out Microsoft?

      I'll wait to see how Android copes with multiple (3 or more) external displays and a dozen and visible windows. Just don't get me started on all the legacy software.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Watch out Microsoft?

        Do you really think the number of displays is really likely to be a problem? I think the bigger issue is the toolkit for the different form factors. I'm pretty confident the compositors can handle converting the virtual display into signals for different ones, or, just let some kind of docking station deal with that.

        I don't expect the market for these devices to be large initially but I guess the companies that should be really worried are the PC makers: the few that are left just got even more competition.

        Of course, the ChromeOS boys could still attempt to nip this in the bud, because according them the Gospel of Google is that devices with keyboards must use ChromeOS.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Watch out Microsoft?

          Given they are coming from mobile, I think it might not be a priority. And just look how long it took Windows and Linux to work effortlessly with multiple display.

          1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

            Re: Watch out Microsoft?

            nVidia (as it was named then) solved this in the very late '90's. It wasn't an OS thing then, it was a graphics card thing.

        2. whitepines Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Watch out Microsoft?

          I don't expect the market for these devices to be large initially but I guess the companies that should be really worried are the PC makers: the few that are left just got even more competition.

          This also spells the end for Linux as we know it. Most of those phones have locked bootloaders, and Facebook and Google can both spy through as much of these people's new "desktops" to their hearts content. Not to mention such fun features as:

          Fully enabled DRM (i.e. time bombed movies etc.)

          Always on cell signal (along with remote bricking per Cali law etc.)

          Really it sounds like this is final push for all technology being converted to enslave people instead of empower them. Try bricking the normal desktops of political dissidents, etc. (or burning libraries) and see how far that gets before some other nation steps in with their military. Just deleting the controversial files remotely from the phone, or wiping them from the cloud service probably won't get that kind of response.

          I wonder if Torvalds is regretting his decision not to GPL v3 the kernel yet.

          For the first time in a long time I'm genuinely terrified of the future.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Watch out Microsoft?

      I think this is a pretty obvious thing for Apple to do if/when they convert macOS to ARM. It would give them a big advantage over Android due to the amount of commercial software available on Macs. I think I first posted about this possibility about five years ago.

      iOS uses basically the same kernel as macOS, you'd just need to run the OS X GUI as an "app", to interface with a wireless mouse/keyboard and a Lightning to HDMI connected display.

      The real market for this though was Microsoft's to own, back when Intel made x86 SoCs. If they hadn't screwed the pooch with Windows Phone, there would probably be tens of millions of people running Windows this way today. With Android (or Mac, if Apple does it) it will remain a niche for people who have very minimal "PC" needs - the type of people who do everything on their phone and use their PC a few times a month. Microsoft could have had a significant usage base in the corporate world, if you could avoid bringing a laptop for business travel that would be huge.

  3. Mage Silver badge

    But ...

    For how many Android apps will the following work?

    1) Copy/Paste

    2) Printing

    3) External USB or SD card storage

    4) External local LAN storage via server shares & login

    Will there be an included "file manager" instead of a third party one?

    I've three versions of Android. Almost no apps support Printing. Very few external storage. A few support "Cloud" storage (not interested) and only a 3rd party file manager supports LAN shares.

    Only the OLDEST phone has an HDMI connector. In comparision the Wireless connection to Smart TV on the latest phones and tablets are garbage. My monitors and adaptor boxes for monitors only support composite, VGA, DVI, HDMI. None support the RF based "mirroring".

    One phone does already support two apps open in two windows. Multiple apps in separate windows is the only major OS feature missing. All the other things are sort of in the OS, but lacking in Apps either due to cluelessness or App originally for an ancient Android.

    WFWG 3.11 was better than Android is for a desktop.

    The problem is that if you design an OS and apps for a small screen with predominately touch, it's rubbish for desktop. As users of Win 8 & 10 know, compared to Win7 and earlier. MS used to make the opposite mistake for Windows CE / Windows Phone (before tiles/Zune etc).

    Unless apps are trivial, they need two versions. One for desktop and one for touch phone/tablet. Also it's not really feasible to use many kinds of content creation applications on a touch only screen or a small screen.

    This is a niche for people that don't need laptops. It also needs better written applications to succeed as well as an OS supplied file manager.

    This is no threat to Windows, MacOS, iOS or any sort of Linux with a decent desktop / window manager. Partly because most apps are limited even compared with what Android can already do years ago and partly any App good for small screen/Touch won't be good for "desktop use".

    Even keyboard layout support is a joke on Android. With mouse & keyboard some apps still occasionally need touch input.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: But ...

      Most of the non-consumption apps do all that – consumption stuff doesn't really do Copy&Paste largely because of DRM but loads of apps will store stuff on an external SD. Lots of apps will give you SMB and printing (almost invariably via the "cloud", but still it works)

      But I'm not sure that people want to replicate the Windows desktop entirely on their phones. A lot of them will probably already be using something like OneDrive. What they really want is mobility.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But ...

      "This is no threat to Windows,"

      You know there are more active Android devices than Windows systems? (Android overtook Windows 3 years ago, to become the platform of choice, and therefore the development platform of choice).

      It's no coincidence that Microsoft now how a bigger Android development team that they have for windows application development....

      It's no threat to Windows, as Windows already lost.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: But ...

      I use an android desktop.. I am now, "universal copy" copes with apps that don't have copy/paste.

      Other apps are available as windowised apps. And non-windowised apps can generally be windowised by altering the manifest (app "app cloner" lets you do that) I have native NFS to my servers, and internal storage is 512GB via "external sd" and USB3.

      There is an issue where launchers don't work properly with over about 670 installed apps. Seems to be a problem with binder size from what I can gather..

      app "assistive zoom" lets you pinch in and out with the mouse, and quite a few apps (but admitedly not enough) have keyboard shortcuts.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    4. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: But ...

      ES file explorer does all the above except native printing although you can share with the epson peint app. The epson app does the printing - other apps can share to it

  4. not_equal_to_null

    Nope!

    "Microsoft was probably first off the blocks with Continuum in Windows 10 Mobile"

    Nope. I had a Motorola Atrix with the lapdock and everything - it was great!

    1. thames

      Re: Nope!

      Ubuntu Phone was in the game early as well, but Canonical gave up on it a little while ago. They said the reason they gave up was that having the technology working was the easy part.

      The big problem was getting key app developers and phone manufacturers on board. Those demanded large up front payments before they would consider it and Canonical wasn't in a position to fork over that kind of money. That's why they binned the whole phone project, including the Unity GUI.

      The whole thing is really more of a marketing and developer relations problem than a technology problem, and it requires very deep pockets. Google has both the deep pockets and the existing business connections to make it work.

      I can see this rendering the Chromebook market obsolete, where instead of a Chromebook you would simply get an external screen and keyboard for your phone, possibly in the form of a folding dock. I don't think it would completely take over the traditional laptop market, but it may chew around the edges of it more than Chromebooks were able to.

      1. CJ_C

        Re: Nope!

        Canonical did give up, but Ubuntu Touch for mobiles is thriving under the UBports project.

    2. airbrush

      Re: Nope!

      Me too, a tad sluggish but great for playing videos and surfing the web. The lapdock could be used with a raspberry pi or any other device with a hdmi too but Motorola being Motorola didn't have any compatibility from one version to the next so it faded away.

    3. ROC

      Re: Nope!

      I still have the Verizon CDMA version. Bionic, and really liked the Webtop Linux booted up when plugged into the Lapdock. I looked forward to "Webtop 3" updates for using with the next gen Razr HD that fit right onto the dock, but that was about the time, after Google had taken over Motorola Mobility, that they were cranking up the Chrome books. I suspect they saw Lapdock/Webtop as a threat, and killed it off.

      Now I use the Lapdock for Raspberry Pi's (it even powers one to make it a fully portable, if somewhat clunky, laptop), and it even worked as a Lumia 950 Win Phone 10 Continuum peripheral, too.

      Now I suppose they are re-inventing Weptop...

  5. naive

    A smartphone based desktop does make perfect sense in the age of the cloud

    High end smartphones exceed low-end laptops in performance.

    If in a few years the majority of office workers use cloudy documents instead of those on the C-drive, the smart phone just needs to be able to run a web browser fast enough.

    If google is serious about this, the challenge is to develop a standard cradle, connecting screen, mouse and keyboard to smart phone from various manufacturers.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: A smartphone based desktop does make perfect sense in the age of the cloud

      "If in a few years the majority of office workers use cloudy documents instead of those on the C-drive, the smart phone just needs to be able to run a web browser fast enough."

      No. It also needs to run a mobile signal fast enough. The path to my local drive is about 3 orders of magnitude wider than my internet connection and we have all put SSDs into our machines in recent years precisely because that width is important.

  6. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Devil

    North of 85%...

    ... and an ecosystem that is (to all intents and purposes) as tied to Google Play and other services as a certain combination of operating system and browser from 20 years ago...

    Tell me - at what point does the definition of "anticompetitive monopoly" start?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: North of 85%...

      Tell me - at what point does the definition of "anticompetitive monopoly" start?

      Remember when Microsoft needed to save Apple to avoid a monopoly?

      Microsoft are already putting Office products on Android and, importantly, Google has almost no market share in actual phones. So long as Google encourages third party developers and allows OEMs to customise Android, and so long as Facebook is an equally big data slurper, they might well be OK. At least in the US.

      If Trump continues to spout nationalism, of course, at some point other countries might decide the US has a monopoly on certain aspects of IT and start to act against them. But by the time it gets to that point he may well be history. Or, if the war with China heats up enough, geography.

      1. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: North of 85%...

        "... Google has almost no market share in actual phones"

        True. But for the average Joe who has just bought his Android phone from his outlet of choice, the first thing he's got to do is either create an account with Google, or log in using his existing one. Either way, he is immediately tied (in data terms) to that device, regardless of who made it.

        Facebook may be as bad in terms of data slurping, but you're not pushed into anything with them before you can use your shiny new handset.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: North of 85%...

      Tell me - at what point does the definition of "anticompetitive monopoly" start?

      See as Google has already been accused of, and punished for abusing its Android's market dominance, I'm not sure I understand your point.

      Mind you, I'd quite like the regulators to take a closer look at some of Apple's practices: no other browser engines, no other music stores, etc.

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "Google has already announced its intention to make the Google Play Store 64-bit only later this year"

    The way this was wrote suggest that the Google Play store will stop supporting 32-bit devices, which worried me as I have 2 perfectly functioning devices running 32bit versions of Android. So I did some further research and found the official line from Google is this:-

    "We are not making changes to our policy on 32-bit support. Play will continue to deliver apps to 32-bit devices. This requirement means that apps with 32-bit native code will need to have an additional 64-bit version as well."

  8. Def Silver badge

    So...

    ...let's see if this makes sense to anyone else.

    Most software developers today tend to prefer the web browser on Windows and other desktop based platforms. (Because making desktop software is too hard for the majority of developers out there today, apparently.) While only creating apps for iOS and Android. (Because those browsers are too shit to support properly, or something.)

    So if Android moves to the desktop, does this mean those developers will stop making Android apps in favour of extending their offerings for other desktop platforms (which is basically what Chrome OS was supposed to be in the first place - more or less). Would that then spell the end to Android due to lack of "Apps"?

    I can only hope... :)

    EDIT: When will Android Studio be available for Android? I'll bet a sizeable sum of money it'll be right after the first snowball fight in hell finishes.

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