Android's material design reaches into Linux

A new OS has been proposed, based on Linux and Android's material design specifications. Jack Wallen opens up his hat of supposition to imagine the possibilities this platform could bring to life.

Quantum OS

The Linux kernel reaches deep fingers into that of Android. So, it only makes sense that the circle would be completed with Android holding sway over the Linux desktop. But how could a mobile platform inform a desktop platform? Two simple words...

Material design.

If you haven't yet taken a peek through the material veil, this new design is the driving force behind Android Lollipop and looks to reinvent the way developers design their apps (and users experience the environment). You can check out the full landscape of Google Design here. With these design specifications, you can be sure your Android apps blend in perfectly with the new ecosystem.

Or you can develop a desktop operating system.

That's what Quantum OS is — a Linux desktop that conforms to Google's material design guidelines. Update: Due to a naming conflict, Quantum OS has been renamed Papyros. You might be thinking this isn't really a big deal. Someone takes either Ubuntu or Arch Linux and creates an Android-like shell to serve as an interface. On a rather low level, you might be right. The developers are simply creating a new desktop shell using Qt 5 and QML to create a very Android-like, interactive environment. They even have mockups of what they expect their efforts will return (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The mockup of the Papyros desktop.

They're planning this UI framework to be cross platform, so it'll work on Linux, OS X, and Windows.

On the surface, this looks like a fun project (one that I'll most certainly be testing out the second that it's available). But let's dig a bit deeper and consider the implications here. I'm not talking about having a desktop platform that merely follows the design specs for Android's new ecosystem. I'm talking about something special — the possibility of a happy accident this project could create.

Walk with me for a moment.

We've already witnessed Android apps running on Chrome OS (Evernote, Cookpad, and more). Imagine that Papyros succeeds with material design to the point that they're able to easily run Android apps on the platform with little extra effort. By adhering to the material design specifications, they've already opened the door.

I understand the design element isn't the challenging aspect of getting one platform's apps to run on another. But we've already witnessed, thanks to ARChon, Android apps running on Linux. This is a two and two that can easily be calculated. If Papyros can converge material design and ARChon into one cohesive unit, something very special will be born — a truly convergent desktop. Think about it... having a Linux desktop that allows you to easily run your Android apps without having to pick up your smartphone.

The possibilities have become limitless. All thanks to material design and developer Michael Spencer. Even if Papyros doesn't fully deliver, the seed of creation has been planted, and the idea of realizing material design on the desktop shows a vast untapped potential.

This is all thanks to Linux, open source, and Android. Three core components that have revolutionized the computing world in ways many do not recognize. The trick now is to bring them together in a way that will further the revolution and converge technology to make life and business simpler and seamless. Android and Linux living together on one comprehensive desktop.

Imagine the possibilities!

Bridging these two ecosystems makes perfect sense. Canonical has been desperately attempting to bring the phone and desktop environments together (with Ubuntu Linux and the vaporware Ubuntu Phone). However, a new mobile wheel doesn't need re-invention. Papyros only need follow through with their current intent and then blow a hole through the creative roof by adding the necessary pieces (such as ARChon) to bring Android apps to their material design desktop.

It sounds simple, though it's most likely not. But the seed has been planted, and it should be allowed to germinate and spread. Yes, the work may be challenging, but the reward would be massive. I tip my hat to Mr. Spencer and his goals. I see big things with Papyros and fully believe in the project.

Do you think the the marriage of Linux, Android, and material design would make the perfect desktop platform? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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