Last week, Lenovo introduced the Motorola Moto Z family of devices. The Moto Z is under 5.2mm thin but comes complete with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 System-on-Chip, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage and the Moto Mods expansion. To date, Lenovo have showed off a number of modules that can be added to the back of the Moto Z including a projector and a battery pack. However, perhaps more importantly than the few modules that will be available at launch is the news that Lenovo and Motorola are opening up the platform for hardware developers to introduce their own Mods. And today we’ve seen a new product being put together thanks to this Motorola Moto Mods developer kit: the OneCompute. The OneCompute is a hardware add-on that converts the Moto Z from a smartphone into an Android desktop computer.
The OneCompute attachment contains wireless charging and a Keyssa chip, which is a very short range wireless technology working operating at the 60 GHz frequency. When customers place their Moto Z wearing the OneCompute mod onto the supplied dock, the device is both charged and connects to the system using that Keyssa wireless connection. You see, Keyssa has a low power, 6 Gbps bandwidth connection that looks to the Android operating system as a physical layer. The Keyssa standard can behave as a USB, DisplayPort, HDMI or all manner of digital connection interfaces that we use in electronic devices. The OneCompute unit also contains three USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port and a power adaptor: it’s the essential hardware that the customer will need to plug in an external monitor, keyboard and mouse and convert the Moto Z into a desktop computer. And short of attaching the Mods to the back of the Moto Z, and plugging in the keyboard, mouse and monitor, the OneCompute is a wireless solution.
Of course, the hardware is one part of the Moto Z OneCompute experience. The other part is that Android in its current guise is not optimized for a desktop or laptop type experience. Motorola have adjusted the OneCompute software so that it works better with the desktop interface. Applications can be windowed and information cut and pasted from different applications, although this could be how Android N’s desktop interface changes work. There are the familiar three Android control keys (back, home, switch) showing in a bottom corner but otherwise, this appears to be Android as we know and love.
Microsoft currently charge $100 for the Continuum dongle for compatible Windows Phone models – we don’t know how much Motorola will be selling the OneCompute product for, but as a product it appears to be nearly complete and could be shipping by the end of the year. We’ve also seen how Ubuntu are working on a changeable interface for tablets running their LINUX distro. Motorola have cautioned that the OneCompute is not the Android version of Continuum, but the company subsequently demonstrated the Moto Z running the Android version of Microsoft Word on a widescreen monitor. We will need to wait and see when or if the OneCompute is released, how much it will cost and where it will be available, but for certain workers when combined with the improvements to Android N, this could be a very compelling arrangement.