Google merging Chrome OS and Android: Apple is next

The Post-PC is more of a PC-Reborn era.  And it is so because the PC isn’t that big box under the table anymore. Or even that laptop, Ultrabook or convertible you’ve spent some money on lately.

No. Your PC is your smartphone. And if it’s not yet, it will be that soon enough.

The dream

That’s what Canonical envisioned almost four years ago. On October 31st, 2011 Mark Shuttleworth published this on his personal blog:

This was Canonical's dream. They're still sleeping though.
This was Canonical’s dream. They’re still sleeping though.

By 14.04 LTS Ubuntu will power tablets, phones, TVs and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen, and it will connect those devices cleanly and seamlessly to the desktop, the server and the cloud.

The idea was clear: your smartphone would become your PC, and the experience on that device would adapt to your needs and resources. But Canonical wasn’t able to deliver that promise. It even tried to launch Ubuntu Edge, the “convergent phone” that would provide all the necessary to get a responsive experience. That project had to be cancelled due to insufficient funding on Indiegogo, where nevertheless it was a record project.

Thankfully, Microsoft stole the idea

Microsoft took up the torch, and the company led now by Satya Nadella is finally delivering that idea. We saw the result with the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, the first phones that thanks to Continuum, the Microsoft Display Dock and that ‘One Windows’ paradigm are able to transform that experience.

Your smartphone is finally yourPC.
Your smartphone is finally your PC.

You can finally use those smartphones as a smartphones or as PCs. It depends on what you need, and on what your resources are. A display, a keyboard and a mouse are enough to provide that desktop experience running from a smartphone.

Convergence is here, and it seems unstoppable.

Google agrees: this is the future

Google has been pretty clear in the past about the relevance of Android and Chrome OS. Both made sense for the company, and both covered different users. That was the official message.

Google Pixel C was a surprise: a tablet for productive work. Everyone jump on board!

There was other goals inside the company, of course. As many predicted, maintaining two code bases when one of them is clearly not getting much traction seems not a good idea. Yesterday The Wall Street Journal revealed how Google would ‘fold’ Chrome OS into Android. There has been some updates on that report, and it seems Chrome OS will continue to exist after the release of that combination of both projects.

Chrome OS, tells The Verge, is not being “killed” and Re/code explains how “Starting next year, the company will work with partners to build personal computers that run on Android“. It seems the path to Google’s convergence will be a little slower, with two products coexisting -Android with Chrome OS features, and the traditional Chrome OS-, but the end seems clear: only Android (maybe with a different name) will survive.

Apple: merging iOS with OS X seems mandatory now

The discourse about convergence has also been unequivocal at Apple. Tim Cook recently explained how iOS and OS X had both sense for different scenarios:

And again, productivity shows the way. Your tablet wants to be your laptop. And it wants to be that with iOS. Weird?

We don’t believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile. These operating systems do different things,” said Cook. “We have no intention to blend them.

But again, this is the official discourse. There are to many hints to dismiss a possible merger between iOS and OS X:

  1. OS X has received minimal updates on the last two years, and in most cases there has been an ‘ios-ification of OS X‘. Continuity and Handoff were nice, but not specially ambitious.
  2. Apple’s ARM SoCs are incredibly powerful: they even beat the new MacBook, and that could led to that promising Apple laptop based on on an ARM processor (Apple A10?) and, of course, iOS.
  3. The new iPad Pro proves that Microsoft’s idea with their Surface is the one that can really save tablets. And it’s based in iOS. Not OS X. iOS.
  4. The Mac division is still important, but the iPhone is what makes Apple successful. Compare 63% revenue from iPhones to 13% revenue from Macs. If you add the iPads (another iOS product), you get a whopping 71% of revenue based on that products. That’s what work.

I have no doubts about this. Apple wants your smartphone to be your PC too. I’m absolutely sure they’re working on it, so stay tuned. Google’s decision won’t be the last on this front.




Microsoft Display Dock is asking for copycats

At its Windows 10 hardware event today in New York City, Microsoft unveiled the Display Dock. This accessory extends your Windows 10 phone into a PC-like experience, though it reportedly will cost $99.

I love what Microsoft announced on October 6th: the new high end Lumia smartphones are now capable of becoming your PC, but you’ll need this little dock, and it ain’t cheap.

$99 is a lot for what essentially is a way to connect a monitor. Most users will connect a wireless keyboard and mouse, so I wonder how this can be so expensive.

I can’t wait for chinese copycats to show their capabilities, but there will be other alternatives. Months ago Belkin announced their new USB-C cables (DisplayPort and HDMI versions included), and others will follow.

Nice try, though, Microsoft.

Source: Microsoft unveils Display Dock, a Lumia accessory that turns your Windows 10 phone into a PC | VentureBeat | Mobile | by Emil Protalinski

Surface Pro 4 and the new Lumias are on their way: please Microsoft, get this right

On July 29th, Microsoft launched the final version of Windows 10 for desktop PCs and laptops, but that was only the first part of their ‘One Windows’ launch strategy. Now comes the hardware.

The event Microsoft has confirmed for October 6th is going to be a big one: the first high-end Lumia 950 / 950 XL made by Microsoft will  be cornerstones of their new, ambitious roadmap. Both specs and images have been leaked, and although the design is not that interesting,  the specs are. One of them is really interesting, in fact.

It’s not the screen, processor, iris scanner or even the 20MP camera that they will supposedly have. Not even the support for wireless charging. No. It’s the USB-C port that is specially exciting.

And it’s interesting because that port will be responsible for that bold behaviour of these smartphones that won’t be usual smartphones anymore. They will be, more than ever, pocket PCs. PCs that actually act as PCs.

That, my friend, is not your smartphone. It's your new PC. Get used to it.
That, my friend, is not your smartphone. It’s your new PC. Get used to it.

On one of the leaked images one of the phones appeared connected to some kind of dock, wich will for sure be crucial to offer the Continuum for phones feature. That is: you connect the phone to the dock and that dock to the monitor, and voilà: that smartphone is no longer a smartphone: now it’s a desktop PC. You will connect a Bluetooth/USB keyboard and mouse for sure, and then you’ll have your miniPC running from the new Lumias. Gorgeous.

That USB-C port the leaked information talks about shoud of course support the new USB 3.1 Alternate Mode, one of the main features of the new standard that will allow us to connect VGA or DisplayPort devices to the products using this standard. It won’t probably be a USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface (10 Gbps) but maybe it will have Power Delivery too and will take advantage of this interesting feature of the new standard for fast charging. In that case, these Lumias would be the first devices to include such technology finally. That USB-C connector is indeed exciting.

And of course, we have the Surface Pro 4. Now that the convertible tablet seems to be a valid form factor -several models are available or will be in the next few weeks- it will be interesting to see if Microsoft can really leave behind other proposals due to its experience in this particular segment.

There are several improvements to be made. A UHD (not 4K) screen would give those users a screen that would be difficult to match (the new Dell XPS 12 is reportedly getting this kind of screen). There’s the processor, too. The new Skylake processors that Intel recently launched are going to be used, for sure, but the question, of course, is which one. I’m betting for the Intel Core m7-6Y75 on the top model, a CPU with a maximum TDP of 7W that seems perfect for this machine.

There have been comments about a bigger version (14”) and even a ‘lite’ edition (Surface 4, but I think it’s a little too early for that given that the Surface 3 was introduced last May), but I wonder if Microsoft will be bold with its new Surface Pro 4 as well. The new USB-C connector would be a nice option here, and I wonder if Microsoft will include the keyboard with the package (please don’t sell it only as an accesory), something that would allow Microsoft to give a sense of completion to the product and would for sure give some advantage over the iPad Pro, whose keyboard and stylus accesories are optional and, by the way, pretty expensive.

A rigid keyboard like the one Logitech has created for the iPad Pro would be nice to see as an option.
A rigid keyboard like the one Logitech has created for the iPad Pro would be nice to see as an option.

Let’s see if Logitech does the same that is has done on the iPad Pro and offers a CREATE keyboard, but with the edition for the Surface Pro 4. I’d love to be able to use a more solid, rigid keyboard on this device. This could be really a good option for users that are not comfortable with the Type Cover.

We’ll see what happens on October 6th. Can’t wait.

Source: Microsoft to launch Surface Pro 4 and new phones at October 6th event | The Verge