Opinion

The ASUS PadFone and Canonical. A Match Made in Android Heaven

February 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

ASUS PadFone

In the world of mobile tech, he who offers a complete solution will excel. Device makers, as well as service providers, are always looking for new ways in which to grab hold of your dollars, increase their market share, and be viewed as the best option for consumers seeking a device that can do everything for them. Such are the implications of two unrelated announcements at MWC 2012. Now, Android is already a very versatile operating system. However, it does have its limitations. iOS, too, has its own set of limitations. Namely, there are things you can do with your desktop OS that are still beyond the capabilities of your mobile OS. But, let’s examine two announcements from two different companies that could have a huge impact on the future of mobile, and create stiff competition for competitors like Microsoft and Apple.

A short time before MWC kicked off, Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux desktop OS announced that they were going to be bringing a unique new parallel boot system to Android. This system will allow a full-fledged version of Ubuntu to run alongside the Android OS. Your Android phone will house Ubuntu Unity, and when plugged into a dock and paired with a monitor and keyboard, enables the use of a full desktop OS. Not only do you get Ubuntu, though. You’ll also be able to access your Android apps, contacts, network settings, and a host of other features from your Android device while Ubuntu is operating.

That’s a pretty versatile setup, and makes Android even more attractive to a user who needs to have access to both. Now, let’s take a look at ASUS’ newly announced PadFone. The PadFone, alone, is just a smartphone. When paired with a tablet shell, it can then become a 10″ Android tablet. With a keyboard dock, the tablet can then be plugged in and become a netbook-style device, a la, the ASUS Transformer. You already have several more options available, as well as more screen real estate to do extra work. However, you’re still limited by your mobile OS and what it can do. Some more intensive applications, such as MS Office applications or desktop-only applications are out of reach.

Take these two separate announcements and put them together. You should immediately see the implications. If you were to run a parallel boot system of Android and Ubuntu, and then make that system compatible with the ASUS tablet and keyboard docks, you’ve just created a truly unique mobile solution that opens up an entire new world in terms of mobile computing power. If you can make the two work in sync, you would then be able to plug your smartphone into the tablet, your tablet into the keyboard dock, and instead of Android’s limitations on a larger screen, you now have a complete desktop solution that can run all of your desktop apps, Thunderbird Apps, Chromium, your Android Apps, store your network settings, and have everything you’ll need to run your business, your office, entertain, and do real work. All of this with one device, and a few accessories. You’ve eliminated the need to carry a phone and/or tablet for some tasks, while also having a laptop available to do more intensive work on desktop applications.

As technology advances over the next couple of years, and your smartphone begins to match, or even surpass the hardware in your desktop PC, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see just how valuable this kind of system could become. If ASUS were to work with Canonical to bring this system to the masses in an affordable bundle of smartphone+tablet+keyboard dock, they could give themselves a significant advantage over other mobile solutions, as well as truly bring Linux into the mainstream. It’s an exciting prospect, and one that we truly hope will be considered, if it isn’t already.

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