Although Android was never traditionally meant to be a PC computing platform, over the years the mobile OS has transformed in many ways that have led to the creation of Android versions which can now be used on the PC. For those who spend much of their day getting things done on Android, it’s a nice alternative to being tethered to a mobile device. Products like the recently released Remix OS 2.0 for PC (which is still in beta status) are giving people an option to use Android in a whole new way, with features and functions that aren’t available on most Android devices such as multi-window, start menus, and taskbars, alongside the control of the OS through mouse and keyboard instead of touch, making things feel like a PC but with all the favorite Android apps and features that are available on tablets and smartphones.
Remix OS 2.0 is also not the only option for a PC Android experience as AMiDuOS announced their 2.0 software as of last August, which offers up much of the same things, albeit with the ability to run Android and Windows app side by side without having to reboot the PC into an Android-based OS like with Remix 2.0. There’s even a possibility, however slight, that Google could be looking into their own unified Android platform for use on the computer, although these are merely rumors at this point. With options like AMiDuOS 2.0 and Remix OS 2.0 out in the open now, could we finally be seeing Android on the PC as a mainstream alternative to using other computing platforms like Windows, Linux, Mac, and Chrome, or Android on a mobile device?
As both Remix OS and AMiDuOS have displayed, Android in a PC-like environment is possible and really all that’s needed is some fine-tuning and adjustment. We’re still not at a point where the current Android-based PC options could completely replace the use of a full PC OS, but we’re closer than we have ever been before to having it be an alternative for those that want it, especially now with the large library of apps and services available via Android that weren’t available even just a few years ago. With companies like Google and even Microsoft putting many of their most popular services in the Cloud, like Docs, Sheets, Slides, as well as Office apps like Word, Excel and Powerpoint, all with Android versions, Android as a PC is capable of being the one and only computer for various users. For business use in certain offices and for use in schools as an alternative to a Chromebook or other computers, options like Remix OS are certainly viable as opposed to other solutions that serve the needs for a computer. Then again, you also have to factor in the cost of equipment to set up a solution like Remix OS 2.0 compared to the cost of say, an entry-level Chromebook which are already doing well in places like the education sector.
Both the two above listed OS options are joined by other “Android on the PC” scenarios that look to be collectively growing. Products like Console OS and Bluestacks also offer up the capability to run Android apps from a Windows computer and having been around for a longer period of time than either Remix OS os AmiDuOS, they stand to capture some attention. With options like the Remix Mini on the market and a bootable version of the OS that can be run from a flash drive which is pocketable, portable, and easy to use, and in addition to other Android on the PC products, it’s entirely possible that it could be pushing Google to look further into their own option that brings users the same types of features and functions with tools like a keyboard and mouse so users can access Android in a traditional, more familiar computing setting.
At the moment, Google producing a unified Android and Chrome OS platform is simply a rumor that has been floating around for months, but it’s been hinted at more than once and by Alphabet executive Eric Schmidt no less. The most recent report surfaced back in the end of October, 2015 stating that by the year 2017, Chrome OS would be absorbed by Android. It wasn’t long of course before someone at Google stepped in to deny any claims about the rumor, simply stating that the team at Google responsible for Chrome OS is very committed to the platform. While the two platforms may never truly merge in any official capacity, it’s possible that Google could be working on some way to unify them more than they already have, and with Google I/O coming up in the next few months it would be the perfect time and the perfect place to show something like that off to the public.
This begs the question though if a solution in this particular area from Google is really needed. Google already works with companies closely to manufacture Chromebooks, which serve as a decent solution to computing needs. Not to mention Google has and still is engaging in the development of the Android App Runtime for Chrome which allows users to install and run Android apps in the Chrome OS environment as is. It’s not full Android running on a laptop, and technically something like Remix OS is more of an Android on PC solution, but ARC works well for the supported apps and all it really needs is more app compatibility. Taking that into consideration along with the already existing options from other companies like Jide with the Remix Mini, is a Google-produced solution for Android on the PC in the same way as Jide has done with Remix OS really needed? Those who have never used Remix OS would be pleasantly surprised to find out that it works quite well, and while it’s still in beta status and has room for improvement with software optimization, it’s possibly the best implementation yet that has been attempted, and perhaps Google knows this and has no desire to go the same route, or perhaps they already have plans in motion to offer something that delivers a similar experience.
If Google were going to come out with an Android on PC product, the Google Pixel C is the perfect candidate to receive such a solution. As it’s been stated before, it has the perfect aspect ratio for supporting multi-window and even though that feature isn’t currently present in Marshmallow, it’s possible that it could be integrated with future Android versions. All that would be needed to make it a more familiar PC setting would be features like the taskbar and start menu which Jide has used in their product. Whether or not Google will ever put out something like that in any form of hardware, say for example, another tablet with a similar experience or a small box form factor just like the Remix Mini, is unclear. If Android ever does unify elements of Chrome OS with its own features though, the Pixel C or something like it could lend itself well to the user experience. There are obvious strengths to having Android on a PC for certain parts of the market. People that have grown up using computers running Windows, Mac, or Linux will already have a taste for taskbars, multi-window, start menus and anything else PC’s include these days that mobile operating systems do not. For those in the millennial category though and certain population groups in emerging markets like India where much of the internet connectivity is accessed through mobile, a traditional computing experience with the Android operating system may not flourish as much simply because mobile devices already cater to much of the use from those individuals.