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Android is becoming more and more useless every year, we could have a powerful computer in our pocket to do everything we want and instead we have a dumb device with a clunky system which is just good for running chat apps and small games.



I want the Nintendo Switch of phones. I want to seamlessly walk off with it or put it into a dock and Bam, full desktop OS. But a good one. Not the janky answers that usually get posted in reply.


Way back when the iPhone came out, I dreamed that it would turn in to an extension of one of Jobs' ideas for NeXT (in the original form, optical drives) - your home directory lives in your pocket, and plugs in to whatever machine you're in front of.

Never happened, and instead we got 19 flavors of "cloud sync", which doesn't solve the problem and has nasty security implications.

I still want my portable ~home.


I traveled for a year with not just my ~home, but my entire OS, settings,and applications all on a portable USB flash drive.[1] The data was backed up in the cloud and the drive encrypted. If I justed need to review a file, I had cloud access and viewers on my phone. When I needed to do any real work, all I had to do was plug my flash drive into any PC with a USB port.

A high quality flash drive[2] boots up instantly and loads apps instantly. I can't work on a 3" screen and don't want to carry around anything any bigger. So for me this is a better solution than a docking station for my phone.

[1] https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Installing_Arch_Linux_o...

[2] https://shop.sandisk.com/store/sdiskus/en_US/pd/productID.52...


What year was this? BIOS settings on PCs sold the last few years complicate booting from USB. Were you fiddling with BIOS settings on strangers' machines?

Also, in the case of public computers, the risk of keyloggers means you cannot trust the computer even if you boot your own OS.


Actually done this twice, once in '10 and again in '16. BIOS issues only came up a few times in some chain cybercafes that were locked down. Never had any problem with the mom in pop cafes that were managed by hand. The rest of the time it was an office, friends/family, hotel, or my own laptop. In those cases, I didn't have to modify any BIOS, it was enough to boot with and pressing Esc, F1, or F12 to brings up the boot menu.

> risk of keyloggers means even if you boot your own OS.

While it's likely the OS of some of the machines I used were infected, the odds of them carrying firmware based backdoors was not a concern. The odds of getting dengue fever were far more likely than a hardware level hack. Those attacks are very hardware specific limiting the potential for widespread infection. At the time Snowden was still fresh on my mind. So I was more concerned with the NSA was sucking down all my emails / cloud data. There is only so much you can do.

Had I been using the OS on the cybercafes, I'm sure my risk of getting keylogged would have been 1000x more than using my own OS on their hardware.


I was talking about physical keyloggers, something not unknown in cybercafes. Booting your own OS doesn’t get around them.


When I plug in my USB key, I have to inspect in the back ports of the compute, where I easily can spot a hardware keylogger. I've never seen such a device in the wild. Sure it’s possible a cybercafé somewhere in the world has one... but how big a threat is this really? I'd say my risk of Dengue Fever was 10000x more likely than this. Never mind how easily it would be to detect.

How many of their users bring their own OS on a flash drive? In my travels, I only met only 1 other. One. He was running Tails. And as I said the chains with their management software and BIOS lockdown don't even allow this. So we're talking mom and pop cafes.

Now do you think those small time owners are going to spend their money to add this additional cost to spy on that one traveler who has his own OS? That make zero sense when they already control the OS and network. So much easier to spy on customers on that level. In that case, VPN + my own OS circumvents them.

Your paranoia only makes sense if I was going to DEF CON or some kind of a target of state level spying.


Seriously, give me a phone running windows 10. Not windows 10 ME or some other special edition, just regular windows 10. They went to all the trouble to make the OS touch-friendly then failed to put it on a phone?


Microsoft did have Windows phone. Metro was an attempt to converge desktop, phone, and tablet environments. From what I hear, Windows phone was an excellent product, but it was late to market and did not have a healthy app ecosystem.

This would still be the case if you put Windows 10 desktop on a phone. The problem is that even though the Windows desktop has a healthy app ecosystem, these apps work poorly on touch devices. This is true for touch devices with large, high-quality screens (various desktops) and for smaller, more portable, but still high-quality screens (like the Surface). Rewriting an app to work well with touch turns out to be an enormous amount of work for the typical Windows app developer. This is true in the ideal case, for C# devs working with WPF/XAML, but it is much worse for devs working with older apps... WinForms, MVC, etc.

Without the desktop apps, you're left with something that is basically an also-ran in a market saturated by iOS and Android. In the meantime, the desktop experience is still not completely touch-friendly and has suffered from a fair amount of design damage in the process (e.g. two control panels). Any developer that would go through the process of getting their existing Windows app working with a touch UI is going to evaluate porting to iOS or Android, and probably prioritize those options.


Seems like a good startup idea, honestly. Might really work well if Android or iOs apps run well too.

[Edit]: I should also add that I really want the opposite of what you ask for. I really want my Android apps to also be available on my desktop PC. It would be really cool if I could plug my phone into a clamshell laptop-like device and have a big-screen experience.


That's exactly what I want as well, phones are powerful enough to do that. I could even use the phone screen as a second screen terminal and type with my keyboard in both, switching with ctrl+something.

Everything is technically complicated on Android, I've also worked into customizing ROMs, trust me, Android kernel & top layer are so clunky that it's even a miracle that the phone is switching on. There's really nothing we can save from this garbage system. Sorry for the Android fans reading this but that's truly my personal opinion after digging into it for a few months. it's just piles and piles of hacks as far as the eye can see.


I think Ubuntu Touch was supposed to be that, but it ended up being a market failure

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_Touch


That, and plasma active on the KDE side.

On the upside, this is still being worked on. The UBports community is still active, and KDE has been refining its plasma mobile interface. Purism's librem 5 should be convergence-capable.

Window toolkits are also being developed to help create responsive applications: Kirigami and libhandy, to name a few.

On the non-opensource front, there is also Microsoft's UWP, and samsung's DeX is showing some promise.

We're getting there, but slower than anticipated. The EOMA68 is also a promising concept, though slightly different, and more similar to what the parent describes.



The market did vote against Ubuntu phone.

It was exactly what you describe now.

I am still sad about that.


Samsung's DeX experience is pretty much there. At this point it's apps failing to account for user experience in desktop mode that 's holding it back from a usability perspective. Hopefully that'll change when Q Desk Mode is widely available.


I would probably buy a Nintendo phone if they made one. Maybe they should get into the phone business.


There were some such devices, running Windows, in the mid-2000s. Larry Augustin (Sugar CRM, VA Research) was associated with one start-up during his time at Azure Ventures.

Found the (ex)-firm: Oqo.

https://www.ft.com/content/5241d778-56d5-11da-b98c-00000e251...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OQO

https://www.slashgear.com/ces-2009-oqo-model-2-umpc-hands-on...

http://cf9e233f57bd4ae986b3-d4e74cbd2619c9a623339399e96f346b...


I predict the iPhone to be something like that - the rumors on MacBooks on ARM are loud. Having the phone dock into a screen/keyboard/mouse workplace and displaying a mouse-friendly desktop isn't far of.


That's a future in which I would buy a $1000 Apple phone. And I think the tech is all there for Apple to do it.


It does also fit with Apple's desire for more reasons to pay a lot for a phone. They seem to be running lower on those than they used to.


But it won't be 1000$ anymore with the gradual price hikes. Expect at least 2000$ with reasoning about "all you ever need and much more"


> Having the phone dock into a screen/keyboard/mouse workplace and displaying a mouse-friendly desktop isn't far of.

How do you imagine this would work even in theory? Running two OSes side-by-side (one when in phone mode, one when in desktop mode?).

Or running two largely incompatible desktop shells with largely incompatible interfaces for multiple apps (touch-optimised programs are very different from mouse-and-keyboard-optimised programs)?


You don't need two OSes.

For applications there is lots of work to make it really nice. Putting mobile apps on "desktop" can be done, while user interface will be a bit strange. But that's a thing which needs time. Microsoft tried that by pushing mobile on desktop, but they didn't have the mobile story. Apple has notable Userbase on both.


So, who exactly is going to “put a lot of work to make apps behave properly in incompatible environments”.

Userbase has nothing to do with that.


I've been wanting this forever :)... I personally think there's demand for this, unfortunately I don't have the right background to prototype it.


There are some indications that they might be working a feature like that: https://www.xda-developers.com/android-q-dark-theme-desktop-...


You could try to be just like the Switch with a Tegra and carry a Jetson around ;)

Pros:

* Unlocked OS

* Runs Linux

* Support great camera

* Good gpu; HDMI port

* "Portable"

Cons:

* No cellular radio

* Runs ubuntu

* Have to find a 19.2V battery solution


I have a Lumia 950 I picked up cheap. It does almost exactly that.

Sadly WinPho was a distant third in a two-horse race.


I still look lovingly at my N900 and wish it worked with my cell-provider. IMHO it was the 'One True Answer' to all this crap.


Why does the "powerful" computer need to be in your pocket. I have a Shadow Tech machine, and with their IOS app I can access a really nice computer from my phone.

As long as I have a bluetooth mouse and keyboard, I'm having the full desktop experience from an iphone that's 3 years old. I can even cast my phone to a wall sized projector which is really fun. Only caveat is that it requires a very good internet connection.


Why are you counting a privacy feature as useless?


Because the ultimate fully private and fully secured mobile device is an acid-covered rock. These "privacy features" destroy interoperability and take away user's control, rendering the device even dumber and even less useful than it was before. It could have been done better, in a way that provided security while preserving utility, but - as is the trend - it wasn't.


Privacy? What??!

Each time your app opens and reads a file, the application on other side of ContentProvider can monitor user activity down to number of bytes read. Each time you open a directory, that action can be noted. If anything, that sounds like a privacy nightmare, and will undoubtedly be exploited.


If security gets in the way of usability, everybody loses. It's always a tradeoff, not binary.




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