The best bad idea for smartphones

The best bad idea for smartphones

Okay, so I have been making
videos about the future of computers for a little over a year now. We’ve looked at the iPad
and Chromebooks and the Mac and Windows, and you know what? They’re all great. But the real dream about the future of
computers wasn’t originally about any of those things. The real future of computing dream has always been about
this thing: the phone. So here’s a question: what’s the best way to turn
your phone into your computer? Here’s the truth: this already is your main computer. It’s the one that you use most often. But what I’m talking about is
making it your only computer. And to do that, you need
it to not be a phone thing, but a big thing with a keyboard and a big screen, right? And that is why Samsung created DeX. It’s the thing that lets you
plug your phone into a monitor, and suddenly, you get a desktop
interface for your phone. You may have heard
that with a Note 10, Samsung made apps for it that run on both Windows and the Mac, so I want to look at why DeX
exists and how it connects to that dream of making
your phone your computer because it seems like a great idea. Then it seems like a weird
idea. But the thing is, it’s definitely not an original idea. It wasn’t the first. This was: the Motorola Atrix. (laughs) It totally
wasn’t. You know it wasn’t. This was the first: the Celio Redfly. (laughs) I can’t. I can’t, no. This wasn’t the first, but maybe you know what the first was, what the OG was. The never-released,
canceled-at-the-last-minute, so-far-ahead-of-its-time, it-was-never-meant-to-live Palm Foleo. Yeah, sorry. I’ve got to talk about Palm again. But actually, all three of these things, they’re ancient history,
but they totally apply to what’s happening with DeX today. So let’s go back to 2007. The iPhone had been
announced, but in May 2007, it hadn’t yet been released. Palm was busy making the Treo, but it was really obvious that Palm OS or Windows Mobile weren’t
going to last very long, and everybody wanted to know how Palm was going to respond to the iPhone, so it announced this wacky
thing: the Palm Foleo. It was the brainchild of
Jeff Hawkins who founded Palm and actually deserves a
lot of credit for many of the ideas that are inside
your smartphones right now. And what the Palm Foleo
is is fundamentally a tiny little Linux laptop. It was a thin client, but
I mean not literally thin. Look at it. It’s pretty thick, but thin in the sense
that you weren’t supposed to save anything on the Foleo itself. Instead, it was meant to
get all of its information from the phone. It was like a remote control for a Treo, but it also ran some of its own stuff. It was a little confusing. So then the iPhone gets released in June, and it was a big deal, and
Palm had to deal with it because the Treo wasn’t good enough, and everybody knew it. Engadget wrote an open letter to Palm telling it to get its act together. And so by September, Palm just canceled the Foleo
before it was ever released. Then in 2008, we got this thing, which is the Celio Redfly. It was a dummy terminal
for Windows Mobile 6.5, and I owned one because I’m a maniac, but it was bad. And then finally in 2011, we got the one that you might remember. It’s the Motorola Atrix. It worked a lot like the
Palm Foleo was supposed to. It was a dummy terminal for your phone, but it also ran Linux, and it
had a Firefox web browser. It was successful enough for Motorola to make two versions of it. This is the second version
right here, but that was it. It was canceled. Okay, welcome back. Now, in 2019, why do we
care about all this stuff? Well, let’s start with DeX. Before the Note 10, it
worked like these things. You just had to bring your
own monitor and keyboard. But now, it works differently
because it’s also an app that you can run inside
Windows or on a Mac. And just to get it out of the way, it’s not great on those apps. It’s a little bit slow. I have a hard time transferring files, and it’s pretty buggy. But it is convenient for
small things like texting or copying and pasting
stuff into your phone if you want it later. But that’s a totally different idea. It’s not the dream of making
your phone into your computer. It’s just putting your
phone inside the computer that you already have. Maybe that’s the best
that we can hope for. You see, all of these
laptop things failed. The Foleo was straight-up canceled, and the most successful
of them was the Atrix, and they only made two versions of it. And as I’m looking at them, I can’t help but notice
that two out of the three of these things are just Linux laptops. Sure, they mirror stuff from your phone, but the truth is that
if you’re going to build a screen and a keyboard to
mirror stuff from your phone, you’re also going to need some
chips to do some computation to make all of the syncing
work. And at that point, you’re already building a Linux laptop, so you might as well just
build a Linux laptop. It’s not that much more
expensive to add in the extra components that you need to make a full-on laptop, and that generally leads to a much faster and better experience. And you know who did that? Google with the Chromebooks
that started shipping in 2011, the same year as the Motorola Atrix. And also, by the way, the iPad started taking off
at around the same time. You see, what Chromebooks and
iPads have in common is this: they know that the important thing isn’t what your computer is; it’s where your data is. Some of it is local, yeah, but usually, the most important data comes from and gets saved to the cloud. And so while, sure, we could
have decided as a society that the source of truth for
our data should be our phones. Instead, we decided that most
of it should be in the cloud. That means that the dream
of turning your phone into your only computer is part of our collective
idea of what we used to think the future would look like. And then we went ahead and
created a different future, the one we live in now, where
our data lives in servers on the internet instead of
the computer in our pocket. That makes me realize that
while DeX and these things here are way cooler ideas than just putting your data in the cloud, they’re
nowhere near as practical. Now, there is one other
super cool futuristic way of turning your phone
into your main computer. That would be unfolding it, and yeah… we’ll see if that works out
better than any of these things. Hey, thank you so much for watching, and I promise I didn’t make this video just to have an excuse
to talk about Palm again. But I got to talk about
Palm again, so that’s great. If you’ve ever had a Palm phone, let’s talk about it in
the comments, because Palm.

100 thoughts on “The best bad idea for smartphones

  1. Doesn't razor have a project that puts your razor phone into a dummy laptop. I think this is the best application. Just need a dummy skeleton laptop that takes your phone as a touchpad. Common Samsung!

  2. I honestly don't get what's so difficult about it. You just need a USB C dock where you attach peripherals+ monitor and a phone that has a desktop userspace. Seems more like a software limitation than hardware

  3. I don't agree completely. I love dex in my new note 10. I easily installed dex on a public notebook at work and I can access all my MS office stuff andwork on them on that notebook. I think this is the future. Sure storage is not the big deal, its in the cloud as you said, but to have my own computer and I can set it up anywhere, even on a public computer and work securely on my own files is great!

  4. I know Dieter isn't a big fan of Microsoft and Windows but not mentioning Microsoft's and HP's collaboration with the Elite X3 smartphone, the Type C dock and dummy Laptop isn't right. HP's idea with Windows Continuum had the best chance of success as a cohesive hardware bundle but since Microsoft chose not to support Windows Phone, the hardware had no chance of succeeding.

  5. My world was long time a Psion, for me a big step in mobile devices and very useful for all the data (on a very small device) I was needed daily with me, at this time. Many programs and translation and others. I felt it was waiting to long until other small device was coming up…even so the Palm, it was ok but nothing really wow…the only thing was, the palm was quickly integrated with enterprise solutions like Lotus… Yes the cloud and Apps makes later the hug different !

  6. Still waiting for a webOS phone. Also, continuity between the MacOS and iOS seems to be the best implementation of the idea. One that Android and windows still can't get right.

  7. I miss Palm so much… I had a Treo 650 and a couple of PDA-only Palms before it… I remember being pretty hyped about the foleo.

  8. No love for the Acer Padfone? You could take your phone, slide it into a tablet, then pop that tablet onto a keyboard. The idea was revolutionary, but I just don't think the hardware was the best it could have been.

  9. As a lifelong nerd, I’ve always loved Palm. They did things that were amazing when nothing else was really amazing. I still think the Pre was beautiful.

  10. The Droid Bionic and Droid RAZR could also use the Motorola Lapdock. The first iteration, on Gingerbread I believe, was pretty close to a Chromebook running Android apps. Phone view would be in a window, where you could run Android apps, and you could do more on the "desktop" Firefox browser. It changed with the Ice Cream Sandwich update which ditched the Phone+Firefox view for straight up Android tablet mode (without a touch screen). I remember not taking my laptop on trips and just using my phone to watch Netflix on the Lapdock's larger screen. It was ahead of it's time and Lenovo should just bring the concept back. Kind of a wasted opportunity with Moto Mods.

  11. Oh my goodness, lol, I just realized I have been wearing the same style belt for the last 12 years and how bad it looks. Thanks for making me look in the mirror Jeff Hawkins. And you Dieter. Damn you.

  12. Good quality, but it feels like we got 2/3rds of a video. you didn't even talk about dex other than running in windows. You really did just want to talk about the old tech didn't you?

  13. Im a little confused what you mean by most of our information is stored into the cloud. It might just be me but I keep my music, movies, videos and whatnot stored on my phone, laptops and external hard drives. The cloud is a nice idea but not for me. Great video by the way

  14. Was thinking about this recently when I tried my iPad Pro with the same usb-C dock I use on my MBP. iPadOS, BT mouse and keyboard and external monitor was really nice. Apps like Netflix even have dual display support. Now extend that to iPhone. Let me pair a BT mouse/keyboard and connect to a TV/monitor by usb-c.

  15. What about services like shadow. What if a company was able to make an OS that ran completely on the cloud and had a UI which worked for both phones and desktops.

  16. Still have my Palm Pre in the drawer, Loved that phone – really wish the company survived – having Palm OS on my LG tv is just not the same….

  17. I thought I wouldn't survive when I knew it was the end of the line for my palm pre. I really felt it was a huge downgrade for my next phone. No wireless charging. So thumb up menu. So sad. Damn HP.

  18. Honestly am sick and tired "Turning On" my Laptop and my iMac. Loading time is killing me and making me go off and forget what I intend to do.

    Now, my S10+ is useful as far as I can. YET is small compare to tablet.

    Tablet, yes. Tab S6 hopefully will solve my problem. Since it has nice keyboard and stand.

    Foldable phone am not optimistic about it and not sure will change my opinion because of their size, Mobile OS and battery.

    Thanks for your video 👌 good discussion point.

  19. I just hook up dongle to my smartphone with bluetooth keyboard and a mouse. HDMI and ethernet over USB-C is best thing ever.

  20. Tha fact that they made a video about docking and didn't do anything on the ROG phones or the Nintendo switch shows they were not serious about the premise

  21. You are wrong. Connect an iPhone into a dock and receive tvOS / macOS with the same downloaded data would be the device to rule them all. The problems with the devices you present never were the hardware, it was the user experience

  22. What a useless video.. And yes, no mention of Windows Phone's Continuum is BS. They essentially predated DeX with the same underlying Snapdragon tech.
    What was the video's conclusion and why did Chromebooks and iPads get in the picture? They're not the sameas Dex and Conti..
    Treat this as an open letter to get your act together, The Verge.

  23. I disagree with your summary. The future is in the cloud but without an interface to the cloud it is useless. The interface should be the phone acting as your thin client and a few docks. Dock to your tv and you have google stadia games. Dock to your monitor and keyboard and you have a workstation.

  24. I really like the idea of using my phone as the "brain" of a dummy terminal laptop, but to be honest even with DEX the proposition is not that attractive because of the interface. Android feels weird when using a mouse and keyboard. If there was a DEX terminal that had a high quality OLED touch display, Apple-grade trackpad, boost in battery life, the ability to convert to a tablet (a-la the Surface Pro) and a GUI to match the accessibility of iPad OS then we might be on to something.

  25. Storing data in the cloud is all well and good but I would still prefer something in my pocket that has some processing horsepower that can also be used in Desktop mode. Something like Ubuntu Touch or Dex but with more work put into making the desktop experience as good as a "real computer"

  26. Hadn't thought about this in awhile, but you make a great point – with everything now in the cloud, its kind of a moot point to have one device that you dock everywhere

  27. I think at least a decade into the future there will be the capability to have one machine that does all the processing, like say a desktop tower with all the power/storage you want, that will connect to a barebones phone and/or laptop (smartwatch maybe, ect…). This will all be enabled by 5G and faster wired internet speeds, so the super-portable phones and laptops will be mostly screen and battery with almost all of the processing being done by your machine back home. This is how we'll get those tiny glass-pane phones from Black Mirror lol.

  28. When I was in high school (grad in 99') I'm a big tech geek w/o the basic knowledge of coding/ I have the palm phone and 2 palm pilots , really love the function to intergrade calendar/ note/ even infrared Printig and TV remove at some point I think

    It was the glass screen and iPod music intergradtion with the 1st Apple iPhone when it came out that make me jump for the iPhone

  29. Great video! I had a Palm Treo and really liked it. You also made some good points regarding the future direction. I’ve wanted one device “to rule them all” but maybe the cloud approach wins and we just have photos, videos and notes syncing to a cloud laptop…

  30. I'm very surprised you didn't bring up Project Linda by Razor. I know it was just a prototype concept but compared to some of the other phone to computer concepts I thought it was potentially the most practical.

  31. you forgot windows… it was possible to use the phone on a screen as a real OS, at leat it was the (right) dream before it was killed

  32. It's just funny how this video completely ignores Microsoft's Continuum, shows nothing about DeX and then ends talking about the cloud. It's not about the cloud, it's about not wasting money with three or four different combinations of hardware and software when one would suffice.
    It would be game changing for the customer, but a disaster for the industry as a whole. That's why it's not happening.

  33. It doesn't matter if Palm is in it. What I liked most is that you take time to talk about tech history and it is something I love to hear. Just few people does it. 👍

  34. Ubuntu was already on this back in 2013. The phone would run Ubuntu mobile when in phone mode, and then it would run a full Linux desktop environment compatible with desktop software with a dock. They even made it compatible with Android.

  35. A laptop that allows you to slot in your mobile and just has a screen, battery, and keyboard. The mobile could be used as touchpad. Maybe run a Linux OS on the 'laptop' screen and standardise the Linux OS as a part of Android going forward so any Android phone may be docked and used this way.

  36. Honestly I think for the average person, eventually a phone that can project/power a larger display will probably be normal. A lot of people already don't have desktops or even laptops.

  37. I think a major component that you guys missed was the economics of it. If your phone is your only computer then you don't have to buy two computers. Even more you don't have to carry two computers with you, of the unfolding thing works out! Like I mean, I would love to just have my phone fold out into a table and then attach a keyboard and make it my laptop. I don't think the whole my my phone my laptop is about data storage, I think it's about convenience and economics.

  38. I think he is missing the point. Yea Chromebooks are cool and everything but the whole purpose of Dex is not to carry around another device nor pay another $500-$1000 to lug around. It is to have something you already own (your phone) and have the ability to merely plug it into the hotel monitor and have a desktop experience. We all know typing for any length of time on a phone is not good. We also know the pain of lugging that extra computer along with us when we are on the road. This is what Dex is all about. So "if I'm going to lug around another device besides my phone" then maybe I should just lug around a more powerful laptop like a macbook pro or Windows Surface that has all the full desktop apps.

  39. Windows phones also came with this promise. “A Huge integration between all your Microsoft accounts and devices” oh, how foolish of me to believe hahaha but I loved it and miss it 🌚

  40. I owned all the palm pre phones, a palm/hp touchpad, and a palm zire 71. The UI in palmOS was ahead of it's time and now all modern phones have design cues that were from that OS.

  41. A tag team effort between Google & Samsung can make this happen sooner than later.

    Samsung got the Hardware. Dex just isn't mature.

    Google has got the software that everybody know about. But adding Android/Chrome Dex alternative isn't going move anymore Pixels

    The Galaxy phone that turns into a Chromebook when docked can be a great thing if executed well.

  42. I have used continuum a lot with the microsoft phone I had. I still miss it. It was simple and fast.

    It was iconic I believe.

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