Jun 3, 2013
While Android has largely been the domain of phones and tablets, its open source nature is leading it to expand out to other devices, be it game consoles, appliances, or even…PCs? Well, that seems to be the start.
Companies are starting to bring Android to new places. Acer makes a monitor that runs Android. Asus is making PCs that run both Windows and Android simultaneously. There’s the Transformer AiO P1801, an 18.4″ tablet with dock that runs both Windows 8 on an Intel Core processor, and Android on a Tegra 3 also in there. Both operating systems can be used simultaneously, and swapped with the press of a button. More realistic is the Asus Transformer Book Trio which features a similar setup, but in an 11.6″ device.
These companies may be on to something by using Android as a complement to their Windows PCs. I have a Surface Pro, and while I really like the idea of the laptop-tablet hybrid still, Windows 8 at this point is not the OS to make it work. Windows is perfectly fine as a desktop OS, but there’s a reason why Microsoft included a Wacom digitizer: the pen is needed for the desktop environment without a mouse or trackpad in use. Like, in tablet mode.
Right now, Windows lacks a lot of great tablet apps to justify ever using it in tablet mode. Oh, and there’s far too much mingling between the “Modern” interface that’s tablet-friendly and the Desktop interface to where certain settings are only in certain interfaces, and there’s visual and usability clashes.
So, why not combine the great strengths of the two operating systems? Use Windows for standard computing tasks. Then, when primarily using the touchscreen in tablet mode, have an OS there designed for it: Android.
Of course, it’s not a perfect solution, as it basically requires two different devices just in one case. Plus, it doesn’t actually address the issues of Windows being tablet-deficient and Android being perhaps desktop-deficient.
But Android’s deficiencies may be easier to address. Android is much friendlier to the PC environment with input and with file handling, so it’d just be a question of getting the kind of functionality that users have on desktop OSes, but on Android. Windows basically has to build up its own new interface and library of apps to be tablet-capable, and it’s been a slow start so far. Windows is a desktop OS, and it might not work as a tablet one. But Android can certainly work by moving up.
Certainly, it’s still something of a niche idea. Time will tell if Android actually makes headway into the desktop market. But even just as a way to make tablets actually work as tablets, while not being crippled when they need to work as full-fledged computers, Android holds a big advantage here, at least while Windows continues to flail about in the tablet market. Android could easily find a way to wedge in and make these hybrid devices a realistic possibility by solving the problems that Windows alone fails to address.
Of course, there’s also Apple to consider. They have yet to show any signs of making a hybrid device, and if Apple decides to keep OS X and iOS segregated on the iPad side of things, Android could have room to create a market if done well here.