2017 could finally be the year in which your smartphone will also be your PC
The interest in turning mobile into an even more versatile product is evident, and there we have Canonical's efforts with Ubuntu and Microsoft's with its Lumia 950 and 950 XL. Those products taught us that a mobile can try to become a desktop computer, but those developments proved not to be fully mature.
Now there are new and promising projects in this regard, and among them stands out the recently discovered "Samsung Desktop Experience", a development that will be available on the Samsung Galaxy S8. If we add to this the leaks that appeared on Google's Andromeda project and that emulation of Win32 applications in ARM by Microsoft, things get very, very interesting.
Continuum and Ubuntu failed to convince the first
The search for convergence has been going on for a long time, and many of us believe that it is a logical step in this evolution of the mobile as a central device in our lives. It is true that it will take time to do everything we do with a laptop or a desktop, but smartphones already have enough gallons to meet light work sessions.
This is what both Ubuntu Touch and the Lumia 950 / XL showed with Windows 10. The problems of both projects were in their immaturity when facing the transition from the traditional desktop to the mobile desktop.
The adaptation was limited, both in features and in the catalog of available applications, and in both cases the user experience had a lot of room for improvement. In the case of Ubuntu, for example, the usage paradigm was debatable due to the extensive use of Scopes that did not provide a differential improvement.
In Windows 10 on the Lumia, Continuum's capacity was limited to a few universal applications. Both allowed us to glimpse that future in which the mobile could behave like a PC, but they were almost "prototypes" of what many of us dreamed of finding in that convergence.
New year, new convergence
Things could change this year. After a 2016 in which there have been hardly any clear movements in this regard, we are facing a 2017 in which many new developments could come in this field.
It seems that suddenly that interest in turning the smartphone into a desktop PC is once again the protagonist among manufacturers, who could pose it as a fundamental asset of their mobile strategies. We have, as we said at the beginning of the article, several open fronts and last-minute surprises:
Microsoft: The Redmond company seemed to have almost completely abandoned the development of mobile devices, but suddenly the news came out: a new project from the company proposes the execution of Windows applications "legacy" on the ARM platform thanks to emulation. That could make Microsoft return with that hypothetical Surface Phone that has been talked about so much and that would be a supervitamined Lumia 950 XL not only in hardware, but especially in software. Microsoft may not have the losing battle after all.
Google: This company had not taken too clear steps in this regard, but the presentation last year of Remix OS made it clear that this could be the future of Android. Although the company has not spoken about the subject, the existence of Andromeda has been discovered, a project that some have already renamed as "Pixel OS" and that would be the merger of Chrome OS and Android. The idea, of course, would be to combine the strengths of both platforms to offer an especially productivity-oriented version of Android. This fall the first devices could arrive, which apparently will be convertible tablets first, and then adapt this system also to smartphones.
Samsung: The Galaxy S8 promises to be an especially striking product, but among its features there will be one that will not be part of its design proposal or hardware specifications, but an option in its software. The recently leaked "Samsung Desktop Experience" could take part of the mobile's functions to a desktop computer without the need for cradles or docks for connection, as was the case with the Lumia 950 XL. Here Samsung has it more difficult since it does not depend on itself (the OS that governs most of its devices is Android) so it will be interesting to see how this system works and how far it can go.
Apple: curiously, the company led by Tim Cook seems not to be too interested in this area, although it is true that its iPad Pro have proven to be the logical evolution of its tablets. These products are governed by an iOS that is increasingly ambitious in the field of productivity, but options such as Continuity or Handoff have not seen many improvements since they appeared so that iOS and macOS communicate more and better. Apple's strategy is a mystery and it does not seem to pose the smartphone as another convertible, but here everything is unknown. Of course: macOS loses relevance, and it seems that the future is entirely iOS.
Ubuntu: Canonical's operating system has not offered any striking news in recent times, but there is something that could help this adaptation of the operating system to the mobile environment: Mir, the graphics server of this operating system, is already very mature in its development, and could be one of the bases of a much more versatile operation. Unity 8, which is based on Mir, is already optional on Ubunt 16.10, and in 2017 we will see it become even more relevant and perhaps finally demonstrate that Canonical's vision was what we all expected.
Many proposals, many different paths, and a possible final achievement: that of giving the smartphone even more relevance with that option of also using it as the center of our productivity environment.
It is important to note that this experience will continue to be limited in many aspects (we will see what applications are available and with what features), but in many areas a smartphone may be more than ever all that the user needs.
In Xataka | Welcome, convergence: finally your smartphone is also your PC