A few days ago a small startup called China Jide Technology surprised us all with Remix OS. This operating system based on Android-x86 project was the patent Android not only makes sense on smartphones and tablets show: could also have it on the desktop.

Some of us Remix OS made ​​us glimpse the future, and after analyzing the alpha version of that proposal we made ​​contact with the project managers for us to clarify some doubts about the present and the future of this development. This is what we have been told.

The origins of Remix OS

Our questions were answered by David Ko, who created Jide Technology in 2014 with Ben Luk and Jeremy Chau. All three worked several years for Google before deciding to found the company in which initially pushed for an alternative to Microsoft Surface Pro and then revisionary with that interesting Remix Mini few months ago.

Remix OS
Image Source: Google Image

Bet that hardware would soon be overshadowed by software that actually gave meaning to those products. What mattered was not selling convertible tablets or miniPCs: the secret of success seems to be in Remix OS, an adaptation of Android that makes it clear that this operating system initially targeted at mobile devices can also be availed on desktops and laptops.

Many business ventures are born everyday problems, and that also happened with these three entrepreneurs. David Ko told us that “in 2013, Jeremy Chau, one of the co-founders of Jide, bought a modern laptop to his father, a computer engineer who had taught Jeremy how to program when he was only eight years.” The problem was that this notebook was so modern complicating things too much: when asked how he was doing Jeremy with him to his father, he replied that “achievement not know how to turn it off .”

It made ​​it clear that problem a Jeremy that “there must be a better way” to bring computer users. “When we proposed the idea Jeremy Ben and me, we immediately realized that we shared the same vision of Android on PCs, and thus was born Remix OS“.

Soon we will beta and installation tool, what about the Raspberry Pi?

The manager told us how Remix OS “aims to bring Android productivity and pioneering the future of PC based on Android. That means having the ecosystem of Android applications, but with the familiarity of the experience of a PC desktop“.

Following the release of OS Remix they occurred some problems with licenses, but those doubts quickly resolvent. As indicated Mr. Ko, already comply with the GPL and Apache licenses used in various components of the project and share “all code Remix OS for PC which is a modification of elements Open Source” on GitHub.

The initial launch generated great excitement that made ​​us wonder where the next steps in the company would. A few days ago published the first update of the operating system and promised a version for 32-bit machines, and it is clear that the interest generated has meant that there is a lot of pressure on this project.

The engineer tried to calm down and kept things had to keep the right pace, “now we are focused on improving the experience of Remix OS through the feedback we receive from our user community.” They are working for example in better hardware support and ensure they will have a beta soon, to be followed by a stable version in his words should not take too long but also did not give specific estimates.

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What we do is we confirmed that among the most immediate news is that of the presence of an installer for the hard disk to avoid having to go to the execution of the operating system via the USB Live system that works so far. Although you can install OS Remix in different ways or run on VM, Mr. Ko confirmed that “we have an installation tool in development work on hard disks.”

Asked by a specific version for the Raspberry Pi and manager, the engineer put forward that the Android-x86-based and therefore makes the Android based “and have the ability to run on most platforms with ARM architecture. The compatibility and optimization for specific devices like the Raspberry Pi is usually performed in a scenario in which case by case basis and will take some time.” For now we must wait for that specific version, we fear, but surely appear.

Remix OS against Microsoft and Ubuntu

Microsoft takes months proposing their particular approach to convergence, but they have gone in the opposite direction to what he has done Remix OS. Instead of adapting a mobile platform to run on the desktop, they have gone from top to bottom: Windows 10 is a desktop system that has adapted to the mobile, but as we have seen in our analysis of the Lumia 950 XL and our experience with Continuum is still much room for improvement for the ambitious plan of the Redmond company.

That is not the only company committed to that vision. Canonical actually was the one who started this trend and although they have taken longer than expected to offer it, is likely to soon see a final version of the concept of convergence that allow you to use Ubuntu phone and on the desktop in a unified and with an experience that adapts to each device. Here again the principle is the same, adapt the desktop operating system to run on mobile, but the idea Remix OS is the opposite.

It is for this reason that we asked Mr. Ko for the advantages and disadvantages of this bottom-up approach to the problem of convergence. For this steering advantage it is in the ecosystem of Android applications. “Remix OS users can use the same application environment between desktop and mobile content and a user experience that are very close together.”

In fact the best thing is that these applications are joined by the traditional features of desktop PCs and laptops “as multitasking, using multiple windows or optimizing the keyboard and mouse to not touch screens,” added the Mr. Ko.

Of course there are disadvantages in that model, “an OS like ours takes time Many Android apps are not designed for large screens or devices without touch interface so the experience will vary accordingly“. But soon believe that these applications will taking advantage of this ability and a good example, we said is the suite of Microsoft Office already offers enviable performance in this environment.

The collaboration with Google is key, the uncertain future of iOS

In that vast catalog commitment to Android has its drawbacks in some sections. For example, the official “approval” by Google. The alpha version of Remix OS does not ship with the Google Play services, which means that after installation we do not have at our disposal and the Google Play Store or traditional applications of this platform and Gmail, YouTube or Google Drive, to name a few.

Mr. Ko showed us that this is because “Google should invest time to ensure that the vast majority of applications offers a consistent user experience that is precisely the expected on their smartphones and tablets.” The new paradigm posed Remix OS when working with new “form factors” makes is taking longer than expected to collaborate with Google to validate this platform in their trials.

Although there are options to install app stores and install applications independently across APKs famous, those responsible for OS Remix explained that the goal is to pre-install the complete set of services [for Google] in Remix products in the future close.

To Remix OS exists an obvious potential threat might actually be an advantage. You may Google follow the same path now rumored to pose mix or somehow merge Chrome OS and Android, and indeed Mr. Ko had an opinion about. “We love to see companies like Google follow this path, because that would validate what they have worked for the past two years maintain an open dialogue with Google and work openly.”

Here, but not be clear, an option opens precisely: that Google end up buying a Jide Technology to build on its progress. This hypothesis was not confirmed or denied by its creators, but it seems an obvious alternative for the future of the company if Google actually follows the same path.

For these engineers the future seems clear. “We firmly believe that the future of computing is based on mobile technology,” he stated, adding that this was based on three arguments. The first, the application ecosystem. The second is that mobile technology is very focused on efficiency, and third, touch screens add another alternative interaction that enhances the experience with the traditional PC. We asked Mr. Ko if that might be the way to Apple after the presentation of the iPad Pro, but he showed cautious: “As for Apple’s plans, I would not say anything, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction“.

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The future of PCs … and Remix OS

In Jide they believe the PC “is an evolutionary step” and gives the example of convertible 2 in 1 is the only one that seems to be growing. “We believe that software innovation in line with the evolution of the PC hardware is key to the next phase of personal computing, and Remix OS allows PCs take the next step.”

David Ko to the short-term challenges are particularly important, especially since “manage our growth will be vital. Especially since climbed maintain that communication is really important because we rely on feedback from users.”

The company intends to hire more engineers to support the development of both Remix OS and its hardware products -segueing betting that facets- addition to strengthening strategic alliances for the future when it comes to promoting their development.

Precisely in this future will also play an important role developer, for which David Ko had an important message: “We do not intend to fragment Android If a developer follows practices that Google publishes Android, the application will work well in OS Remix“. That means not only that may be combined with re-sizable windows, he added, but also adapt to different screen sizes and can work with input methods such as mouse and keyboard.

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