Android Q desktop mode silently prepared for a multi-screen future

JC Torres - May 12, 2019, 9:27 pm CDT
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Android Q desktop mode silently prepared for a multi-screen future

Android is getting into form factors that, during its birth were probably never envisioned. That’s not only smartwatches and smart TVs but even things like set-top boxes, laptops and Chromebooks, and, of course, foldable phones. Google, however, is also preparing another relatively new territory for Android: Android desktop from your phone.

This actually isn’t completely new. Samsung and Huawei have both been working on desktop mode for quite some time now. Even then, however, they weren’t original in the idea. OEMs and third-party developers have all tried to retrofit Android into one form of desktop scenario or another and now it seems that Google is finally giving it serious thought. Somewhat.

Android Q was already spotted with a hidden desktop mode yet Google was surprisingly silent about it even at Google I/O 2019. The good news, however, is that it has actually been actively developing it. Even better news, it’s encouraging app developers to prepare their software for that future, even if it’s only subtly doing it.

The Desktop Mode briefly took center stage in one of the developers talks about Foldable, Multi-Display, and Large Screen devices. It detailed some of thee conventions that developers must be aware of when preparing their apps to work properly on such unconventional screens. From having a windowed mode to resuming apps from one state to another, Google is finally giving developers the tools to officially make those features a part of the user experience.

Of course, just because Google gives them the API doesn’t mean developers will immediately bite. Given how niche even desktop mode features on Samsung and Huawei are, it’s going to take a while before it becomes a norm for all apps. Maybe by then, there might no longer be any need for custom UI’s like Samsung DeX and all Android phones can become true PCs in your pockets.


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