Back in 2013, Canonical attempted to set the bar incredibly high with crowdfunding campaigns. More than dollars, this campaign promised to bring to life the idea of convergence. Three years later, we're only now starting to see that promise made real.
If you're not sure exactly what convergence is, let me explain as simply as possible:
One device to power them all.
That's it, in a nutshell. You carry around a fairly powerful device in your pocket — a device which already contains so much of your information. Many users, in fact, work primarily on those pocket-sized devices, so why not extend the capabilities of those devices such that they could also transform into a desktop? Since the inception of the idea, it has made perfect sense. Trouble is, even the company that first brought the idea to light has struggled to truly make it happen.
And then comes the Superbook
The Superbook is in the midst of an already successful Kickstarter campaign and promises to be exactly what we've all been waiting for. What is the Superbook? Effectively, the device from a startup called Andromium is a docking station for your smartphone that transforms it into a fully-functioning laptop. Plug your Android into the Superbook shell and that smartphone will power a full-blown laptop experience, allowing you to work more productively with the power and data of your smartphone. With a base-model price of only $99.00, this could quickly become a revolution for those who spend most of their time on mobile devices.
What's best, the Superbook is not only compatible with all modern Android phones, it's like getting a brand new laptop every time you upgrade your phone.
Remember, however, the Superbook is only a shell. Without your Android device attached, it cannot do anything (hence the price point). But once you plug in the smartphone, it transforms that Android platform into a desktop where you can harness the power of the mobile hardware and access the power of your device's data.
This is what we've been looking for
The major companies have been so busy trying to re-write the book on convergence, they forgot there was already a platform available ready to make it happen. Both Canonical and Microsoft dove deep into the muck and mire of re-writing their operating systems in order to mine that magic dust called convergence. Canonical has been trapped in Unity8/Mir hell. They've done a splendid job of crafting a mobile platform that is ready for convergence, but the desktop side of things is dragging way behind. Microsoft has the desktop side of things, but their mobile platform is woefully bad.
Android, on the other hand, was ready and Andromium saw that. Instead of focusing on an entire platform to deliver the experience, they created an app (Andromium OS) that handles the transformation from mobile to desktop interface (Figure A).
Once you experience Andromium (I'll be covering this very soon), you can clearly see not only how the Superbook will work, but how it will take your Android device into productive heights you couldn't have dreamed of otherwise.
This was, in my opinion, the best route to take to finally arrive in convergence land. Focus the attention on the mobile platform and then give it the necessary hardware to make convergence happen.
When will it be available
As of now, the Superbook will be available to backers in February, 2017 for a pledge of $99.00 (the Early Bird package is already sold out). I intend on backing the Superbook, simply because I firmly believe this might be the best take on convergence I have experienced. Having the ability to work productively on my Android smartphone would make my day exponentially easier and the Superbook is exactly the hardware for the job.
- Ubuntu convergence finally impresses me (TechRepublic)
- The one glitch in Canonical's convergence plan (TechRepublic)
- The real convergent desktop: Data over interface (TechRepublic)
- Ubuntu Touch OTA-11 brings about serious improvement to the platform (TechRepublic)
- Laptop dock for Android: The $99 Superbook (ZDNet)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.