Smartphones keep getting more powerful, and at a certain point the computer in your pocket will be just as capable as the one on your desk. It’s possible that in the near future mobile and desktop will converge to create one simple, easily-accessible platform, and one small new company is looking to kickstart the process.
From the outside, Andromium looks like a simple dock for your Android smartphone, but there’s way more going on under the surface. Instead of simply charging your device, Andromium harnesses its power to run a fully functional desktop operating system. All you need is an HDMI-ready TV or computer display and you’re good to go.
Andromium is the brain child of Gordon Zheng, who left a position as senior engineer for Google to pursue his own ideas after noting the rapid rise in smartphone, cloud and HDMI technology. Once he came up with his concept, Zheng took the idea back to Google where he was told the company “wasn’t interested in pursuing this form factor.” So instead of giving up, he hired a small team and took the project straight to the public.
The entire process is designed to be as seamless as possible. Just dock your phone, plug into a monitor and you’re off. Andromium OS offers a classic Windows-style interface, and comes with its own browser, productivity apps, media players, filing system and more that can all run side-by-side in small windows. It also runs games, though it looks like that’s mostly limited to older console titles.
You can even run regular Android apps, though those take up the full screen, and your phone will still receive calls, texts and other notifications while Andromium is running. Down the line, the company plans to offer an open software development kit, so anyone can create apps and programs for the new operating system.
The one big drawback is that Andromium only works with some smartphones. To start, the company is offering a dock designed for the most popular Samsung devices, including the Galaxy SIII, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 4. Zheng is also working on a two new docks to handle devices from HTC and LG. Finally, a Chromecast-based solution coming early next year should add support for the Galaxy S5, OnePlusOne, Nexus 6 and a few other devices without needing a physical dock to work.
You can get your hands on Andromium OS later this month for as little as $10, or pre-order the actual dock along with the software for $29 and receive it in Feb. Based on those shipping dates it looks like the company is pretty much ready to roll, at least for the first batch of docks designed to work with Samsung smartphones. You can also pre-order a dock that works with HTC or LG smartphones instead for $35, though those won’t ship until July.