Android Q’s Desktop Mode Is A Game Changer

Android Q’s Desktop Mode Is A Game Changer

The idea that a smartphone or some other pocket computer that can work on a larger display isn’t new. Samsung has tried it with its DeX system and we’ve seen in in movies and TV plenty of times – like when Iron Man uses his smartphone with a holographic display.

During last week’s Google I/O developer conference, Andrii Kulian – a software engineer working on Android’s multi-display capability – gave a talk called “Build Apps for Foldable, Multi-Display, and Large-Screen Devices” where he discussed how developers can get apps ready for a multi-display world.

The folks at XDA-Developers have summarised the talk, discussing some of the technical details of how software makers can take advantage of this new mode.

For users, you’ll be able to use a mouse and external keyboard easily (something I’m expecting to see in iOS 13 in a few weeks) and have the ability for apps to run in their own windows rather in full-screen mode.

As portable devices have become more powerful, the performance difference between smartphones and tablets and regular computers has narrowed. I don’t think desktop and laptop PCs are going away any time soon. But, for many people, who want to browse the web, use SaaS applications, catch up wth email and messaging and play the odd game a PC is overkill. So, a modern smartphone with an easy way to convert it into a desktop PC makes a lot of sense.

Desktop mode in Android could be invoked either by choosing an option through settings of by simply plugging an external display with the device taking care of the switch automatically. For example, the Google Pixel running Android Q requires choosing the right option in the Developer Options. Devices with support for display out over HDMI enable desktop mode automatically in Android Q by plugging in a monitor.


  • I expect this marks the end of Microsoft in a home setting as there is now no need to run a PC.

    • Not really for a couple reasons. Firstly, not every game or app runs on phones and even when they do you can’t guarantee the same level of performance on a phone as a PC (at least not yet). Secondly, having a single device that’s static is still handy – think about a house with kids. “Mum Timmy walked away with the Computer again” isn’t going to happen, but “Mum Timmy walked away with the Phone again” will.

    • This is like the 1000th time someone has proclaimed that yet Microsoft still dominates the home computer OS market.

  • Microsoft did this years ago for the Windows 10 Mobile. It didn’t catch on back then but it ran very well when I used it

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