Is Android ready to power PCs and desktops? The developers of Remix OS, which is porting the open source mobile operating system to traditional computers, think so. And they have an increasing level of momentum behind them with the announcement this week of backing from a similar project, Android-x86.
If you're thinking that some Android apps can already run on laptops thanks to Chromebooks, you're right. But Remix OS, which is developed by a company called Jide, is designed to do much more than Chromebooks. Jide pitches its platform as the basis for the "world's first true Android PC."
Remix OS focuses on compatibility with computers that use x86-compatible CPUs, rather than ARM chips, which are common in Android-based tablets and smartphones. It also aims to offer a more complete computing environment than Google Chrome OS, which is mostly just a portal for connecting to Google's cloud services, not a platform that lets you do much on the local system.
A working release of Remix OS is already available now. But developers want to create much more. Toward that end, they announced a partnership this week with Android-x86, an older, smaller open source project (actually, it's mostly the work of one man) that is developing an Android-based OS designed first and foremost for PCs.
The agreement is a sign of growth -- or, at least, a more concerted development effort -- in this niche. And while right now there is little serious commercial interest in Android for PCs, the products that these developers aim to create together could become important for the channel going forward. Most significantly, they would make it easy to run the millions of Android apps already in existence on traditional PCs and laptops.
That would be a big deal since, for now, programmers usually have to choose between mobile and traditional platforms when they are deciding which markets to target with the apps they build. Porting an Android app to work on PCs, or vice versa, is rarely a simple proposition. An Android OS that actually works well on PC hardware would create a huge efficiency for the development and reseller scenes.