|HP Slatebook 14 will come with Android|
I did some investigation to find out that laptops are currently being put on the market with Android. So, I headed over to the site for the Android X-86 project, downloaded the ISO and I was off to the races.
Background - My Experience with Tablet Operating Systems
When my wife bought a new laptop with Windows 8 on a year and a half ago, I realized very quickly that I was not a fan of the new app-based start screen. To me it looks clumsy, disorganized and in general very visually unappealing. This surprised me from Microsoft. (This was also one of the final steps to push me towards Linux, but that's a different story.)
|Windows 8 - Bulky and visually unappealing|
Later, however, I tried some netbook-oriented desktop layouts, which basically work on the same visual concepts, without the focus on web-apps. For example, Kubuntu's netbook remix has a very similar layout concept to that of Android. In fact, while I'm not a fan of Kubuntu/KDE's visuals in general, I did like the netbook remix because of this; I probably would've gone with that, except that it was noticeably slower on a netbook than Xubuntu/XFCE.
Also, even though I focused on learning the command-line in Linux, Ubuntu's Software Center get me used to the idea of a web-store for apps. By the time I dove into Google Play on my newly installed Android OS, it no However longer seemed foreign and awkward.
|A laptop with Android|
Although I have not dived very deep into Android and I have not customized the desktop as much as I would like, I have found some real advantages, including these:
- It's Very Lightweight and Fast - Android was designed for smartphones and tablets which are not high-powered machines. Therefore, it works extremely well on the light-weight netbooks like my Acer Aspire One. Anyone who has installed a Linux distro will notice that the ISO downloads and sets up in Unetbootin really quickly. Installation is also the fastest I've tried (except for Puppy Linux, perhaps.)
- It's Visually Ideal - Smartphones and tablets have small screens, and Android's layout was set up accordingly with large icons and quickly accessible full-screen navigation instead of traditional menus. It's also a very nice looking desktop.
- There are Many Apps Available - Google has ensured that Android is well-provided for in Google Play, not only with ultra-light smartphone apps, but also with a number of fully functional programs like Chrome. (I was actually surprised to see that Chrome was not the default.)
- It's Linux - Most Android users don't know that it's Linux. That having been said, the experience, as I see it, is un-Linux-like; for example, you can't just go into a terminal window and use the commands that seem to work in just about every other Linux distro.
First of all, I assume that the new laptops that come with Android installed have fixed any problems to make it run ideally on a laptop. But installing it as I did, I've found the following issues:
- Screenshot doesn't work - The ones on this post are borrowed from other sites.
- Mouse function is touchscreen-style - Instead of being able to click and drag to highlight text in a web browser, for example, you have to click and hold until it hightlights a section, at which point you can use the cursor or arrows to change what's selected. Scrolling in any app is dragging the screen rather than clicking on an arrow/scrollbar or using arrows. This isn't really a "problem" but it takes getting used to. It would be perfect for a laptop with touchscreen.
- Some apps won't run in the background - For example, three Grooveshark music player apps I found (not to mention the website) stops working as soon as you navigate to a different app or even the desktop. I think you can find apps that especially indicate that they keep running, but this point is a nuisance since some apps (like music apps) are useless if they don't run in the background.
- The screen saver flickers on and off.
- Dual booting is tricky to set up - If you've dual booted before, the process is quite different. For someone just trying to rescue an old netbook for easy web access this wouldn't be a problem. For anyone else, these instructions from Webupd8 work perfectly.
|The Android X86 installation screen|
In the mean time, I'm definitely going to keep fiddling around with it to see what's possible.