Now that smartphone processors have gotten ridiculously powerful, it’s time to start tweaking the software to take advantage of all that extra horsepower. The Snapdragon 888 is so, so overkill for growing the web and playing mobile games, which is why we’re seeing an increased focus on things like increased multitasking. Cue Motorola teasing a desktop mode for its smartphones, throwing things back to the original Motorola Atrix that kind of already did this, albeit very poorly.
Motorola desktop and TV interface
These new interfaces go hand-in-hand with Qualcomm’s latest announcements. With all that extra power, Motorola wants you to be able to use your phone like a desktop computer, complete with multitasking, floating windows, and a more traditional PC experience. Google already does with this Android, and Samsung has had DeX for a few years now, but neither of those have really taken off.
Of course, Motorola tried this with the Atria back in the day. It was pretty underutilized then, but that was mostly due to poor performance of mobile hardware at the time. At least we’ve got the CPUs to handle this kind of thing now, but I’m still not sure there’s a significant use case where people are hooking their phones up to bigger screens with a mouse and keyboard.
But it’s not just desktop interfaces that Motorola seems interested in. They’ve also got an Android TV style interface that can run off of your phone, which they’ve even showed off with someone playing games with a Bluetooth controller on their TV.
I can see the thought process behind all of this. You buy a nicer Motorola phone with Qualcomm’s latest processor, and that’s the hub of, well, everything. You use it during the day, when you need to do serious work you plug it into a bigger monitor, when you want to watch TV or play games you hook it up to the television, and all your content and stuff follows you everywhere. It’s a neat concept.
It’s not one that I think will be successful, since most people are doing their professional work on another dedicated device that generally runs Windows with full Windows apps, and you can get a $30 Fire Stick to plug in to your television to watch shows without needing to tie up your phone, being unable to respond to texts or look things up while you’re gaming or whatever. It’s a solution in search of a problem.
I think it’s cool, and I’m interested to see where Motorola takes this, but… I’m not holding my breath for an Atrix renaissance.