You’ve got a mighty powerful computer right in your pocket. It may not match a desktop or even a laptop in sheer power, but it makes up for portability and convenience. But what if your smartphone can actually become your desktop? Not by simply mirroring the smartphone display to a larger screen. We already have lots of those going around. This Andromium Kickstarter wants to give you a real desktop experience, as much as you can squeeze inside your smartphone.
The Andromium promise comes in two pars, hardware ad software. The hardware part is probably less sensational and somewhat easier to pull off. It is basically a smartphone dock, one that has a dedicated HDMI port for connecting with an external display. There are three USB ports as well for connecting peripherals, like wireless keyboard and mouse combo, and maybe a game controller for some living room gaming. And maybe one more for extra storage. That part isn’t exactly hard to accomplish with a few tricks and connectors, but the entire point of the Andromium hardware is convenience and portability.
But the real appeal of Andromium is in the “Andromium OS”, practically an operating system that runs on top of Android. This particular OS is designed to mimic the features and user interface of a regular desktop OS, taking inspiration from the likes of Windows 7 (not 8!) and OS X. In practice, that means mouse and keyboard navigation, overlapping windows, and “true” multitasking. That said, you will still be able receive notifications, messages, and calls while using Andromium OS. You can even opt to take the call right then and there without lifting up your smartphone. The OS comes with a few key apps built-in, like an office suite, media players, a file manager, and a browser. The developers behind it, which include a former Google Senior Engineer, plan to release and SDK that will let developers create their own Andromium Apps.
The Andromium promise definitely has some appeal, as you can see from various and disparate attempts at running full blown operating systems, particularly Linux distributions, inside Android, or accessories that mirror a smartphone or tablet to bigger screen, to be controlled with a keyboard and a mouse. That said, Andromium might not be the perfect answer just yet, as there are still a few nitpicks that might prevent it from taking off full speed. For one, the dock is currently designed solely for Samsung’s high-end line, in particular the Galaxy S III, the Galaxy S 4, the Galaxy Note II, the Galaxy Note 3, and the Galaxy Note 4. The micro USB flap cover on the Galaxy S5 unfortunately kept it from making the list. It’s a bit understandable that the developers would want to focus their attention and resources on the top dog, but that still leaves out quite a lot of would be supporters willing to put money into the project.
And yes, Andromium is, after all, a Kickstarter campaign, one that is looking for $100,000 to help develop the platform, particular improve the OS. They’re not asking much for a single piece, $29 at the very least for early birds, but the campaign is yet to even reach a tenth of its goal. Still, there are 45 days left, so there might be some hope that this dream will come true.