Xiaomi unveils Android desktop interface on its foldable phone – and it works well
Android is an ever-evolving OS that’s perfect for smartphones and tablets. For several years, different developers from different companies have been trying to turn this mobile operating system into an “adult” desktop OS.
An example is Samsung Dex, an interface proposed by a South Korean company and described by one of Habr’s users. Dex allows you not to use a desktop or laptop, but to perform all work tasks on a PC. That is, on a business trip where there is at least some kind of monitor, nothing else is needed – just a smartphone with Samsung Dex. And also an HDMI cable (which can also be purchased locally). Now something similar has been created by Xiaomi.
So what is it?
This is a dedicated software platform that called PC Mode… This platform is exclusively designed for the Mi Mix Fold, the company’s foldable phone. It can be expanded to create a relatively large screen for which the usual Android interface is no longer suitable.
But the interface, created by the Chinese company, allows you to turn this “tablet” into a full-fledged desktop. If you use a wireless keyboard, then there are no problems at all. Of course, the difference between a 27-inch monitor and this miracle of technology is quite large, but it’s still better than just a phone and nothing more.
To activate the interface, you need to unfold the phone and activate it using a specialized gesture – swipe three fingers from the right edge of the display to the left. As the developers explained, this gesture will activate a new mode. It adds “adult” interface elements, including:
• Toolbar at the bottom of the screen.
• The “Start” button, the icon of which suspiciously resembles the corresponding icon in Windows.
• Search icon.
• Icon of open applications.
• Control panel for volume, screen brightness and other elements.
• Battery charge indicator.
• Date and time.
• Three navigation buttons.
As for the “Start” button, clicking on it brings up an additional menu with a list of applications, a search bar and shortcuts for settings and some other functions.
This interface is very similar to Windows, to a lesser extent – the interface of Chrome OS. But “under the hood” is the same Android. There are no changes here, except for the interface. However, this makes it possible to leave several open windows on the desktop at the same time, if necessary.
In addition, the developers have added the ability to deploy some applications to desktop application windows. Not all applications are optimized for such an interface, so some open up in a full-size window, some do not. If necessary, the window size can be changed, which is typical for a desktop OS.
PC Mode for work
The phone allows you to connect a keyboard and mouse without any problems, everything works as it should. The original English-language article was written on the phone. Google Docs and WordPress work seamlessly.
The windows of these applications open normally, they do not need to be closed, leaving them running in the background. Messages in Whats App arrive while using WordPress and can be read if the messenger window is open. All in all, all is well, but still the 8-inch screen is not very suitable for long-term use.
There is a positive point here – the phone can be connected to a smart TV wirelessly, and then it is already a truly full-fledged working tool. Interestingly, during the test, connecting the phone to an external monitor using USB-C or HDMI was not successful.
A little about the phone
Xiaomi Mix Fold went on sale in early April this year – but only in China. There is no information about the availability of the device outside the country yet, but it seems like the company is going to release it to the global market. By the way, PC Mode was not available immediately, this mode appeared together with the device receiving the V18.104.22.168.RJTCNXM update package.
Versions with 12/256 or 12/512 GB of memory are available for $ 1530 and $ 1680, respectively. In addition, you can also buy an exclusive ceramic version with 16/512 GB of memory. The device has three cameras at once – with a resolution of 108, 13 and 8 megapixels.
As mentioned above, when unfolded, the phone’s screen is large – as much as 8 inches. There is also an external display, and its size is not much smaller – 6.52 inches. According to company representatives, the device can withstand 1,000,000 folding and unfolding cycles.
In addition to the folding screen and desktop mode, there is another innovation – this liquid lenswhich allows you to use the 8MP camera for both optical zoom and macro photography.
The smartphone also has two batteries, each with a capacity of 5020 mAh.
As for the new interface, the developers plan to gradually improve and improve it. Folding devices can be expected to increase in size (when unfolded). And if it is already a 10-11-inch screen, then you can work with such a gadget without an external screen (if necessary, of course).