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Using your phone as a desktop computer

With Ubuntu and Microsoft both putting effort into building a hybrid hand-held/desktop experience - that is, a phone you can plug into a keyboard, mouse and monitor, and use as a regular desktop environment - I’m wondering just how much call there is for such a device.

I think it’s a really cool idea, and I’d love to see more tiny desktop computers in general, but I’m not sure just how much use I would have for such a device.

But maybe I’m wrong, what do you think?

I don’t trust computers in public places, because they are often abused with viruses, spyware and sometimes very slow. It would be nice to plug a phone into a screen, when you don’t have a laptop (you’d still have to trust the keyboard - though with 2FA this is much less of a problem).

Also, this would be useful for doing presentations, I believe @sil is keen on this.

Additionally, I could see it being useful in developing countries, where people can’t afford multiple devices (many only have a smart phone and can’t afford a desktop/laptop/tablet).

I think there was a call for it when Canonical proposed the Edge. I know @Sil and I wanted one, so we could get our data from work to home, rather than carrying a phone and a hard drive between two desktop machines. But now we can get two machines, a phone and a tablet and keep the data in the cloud. I feel the need has passed.

TBH, this is mostly my opinion. I don’t it to be the same physical device (which is just asking for trouble IMO - what happens if you lose it, it gets broken, or it gets stolen?) I just need easy access to my data and an application able to open/read it.

Exactly. I don’t want to wander around the back streets of Digbeth at night, carrying anything that is worth mugging me for. I want a small, light cheap phone that can get me web access on wi-fi if I need it. It’s why I like the idea of Firefox OS. A phone shouldn’t be big enough to act as a window onto anything complex. Also: web acccess for the poor, digital democracy etc.

It’s not really about “tiny” desktop computers, any more than desktop computers are about being too large to carry. You’re carrying a phone in your pocket right now; imagine your laptop being a “laptop shell”, which is like an existing laptop but has a slot in the bottom into which your phone fits. Because the phone “powers” it, this laptop is cheaper, and when you slot your phone into it, it’s exactly as good as your existing laptop is. A tablet is the same. Hotdesking offices have monitor, keyboard, mouse – you walk in, drop your phone onto the charging mat on the desk, and the monitor and keyboard and mouse are connected right to it. No syncing your data around to different devices through the cloud required (think about Snowden-type issues as to why we should consider that idea a little worrying). You know that a picture you took on your phone is by definition there on your laptop too; your github keys on your laptop are there on your tablet; if you’re logged into a site somewhere you’re logged into it everywhere, and you don’t have to give all your passwords and details of every site you’re viewing to Google to make that happen. If you’re worried about dropping your phone in the bath then of course you still can back up to the cloud, but it’s backup; it’s not sync. It happens in the background, and it doesn’t need to be completed for your other devices to be useful. Your laptop doesn’t need wifi now because it’s got 4g without a separate SIM and without having to faff about with personal hotspots.

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I’m all for it personally. Just on on the small form factor alone it would be a major benefit to a lot of people, it being smaller and lighter and assuming you’re not carrying around the associated gubbins of screen and keyboard etc it would be a lot less conspicuous than carrying a laptop sized bag. I’m currently dragging a Dell Precision M4700 a mile each way between the bus and the office and it’s beginning to cause me physical damage.
The solution that is being rolled out where I work is to have ultra book size laptops that integrate with 37" ultra-wide screens and wireless keboard/mouse on the desktop, so it would appear to be heading in the direction of more mobile devices being used as the computing platform.

@sil My imaginary Cloud of the future belongs to me. It’s my secure, personal place in the Internet, on a server owner by someone I’ve chosen, not a default service provider that reads all my data, in exchange for freebies.

I don’t like it, because someone’s invented this.

If I’m going to be mugged for everything I own I’d rather it was super awesome sweet rather than mediocre.

So, Neptune looks awesome.

Why wait for 2025? Neptune looks like bunch of stuff you can already do

Device handoff:
https://www.apple.com/uk/ios/whats-new/continuity/
Send/receive messages on a watch:


Detachable tablet keyboards:


Computing on a stick:

Why use watch as the hub, when a phone is always going to have a much bigger battery and probably a faster CPU?

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We’re not waiting for 2025. That quotation on the front page is Wired saying the product is a decade before its time.

Ok my mistake, I don’t think the website makes it especially clear that’s it’s an actual product.

It’s not available at the moment - it’s just a proposal. I thought it was on kickstarter or indiegogo, but I can’t find it.

There is a link to their Indiegogo at the bottom of the page:

They’re claiming a delivery date of Feb 2016.

This thread came up on a search for Windows 10. I thought it was worth mentioning that the device Ubuntu needed is now available as development hardware
https://www.pine64.org/pinephone/.
Here’s Debian with Gnome, running on a PinePhone https://twitter.com/francesco_1985/status/1231984515620524032

Or if you are ready to forgive Canonical for Unity, here’s Ubuntu Touch https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2020/01/ubuntu-touch-on-the-pinephone-is-coming-along-nicely.

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