Will tablets ever replace desktop computers?

Here's how to use your Android phone to replace your desktop PC

Most Android smartphones these days are more powerful than we give them credit for.

You use your phone to email, type in notes, edit pictures, play games - and more. That smartphone in your pocket is a PC in every way. It is arguably as powerful as many devices that sit on desks in offices around the world. So why not replace your desktop PC?

The continuum and convergence of smartphones

Thanks to the increased power and flexibility of smartphones, we are now ready to realistically replace our PCs. This is already the case for Windows 10 Mobile with Microsoft Continuum Continuum: Switching between Windows 10 desktop & tablet mode Continuum: Switching between Windows 10 desktop & tablet mode Windows 10 detects your hardware and immediately selects the best display mode. When you hook up your Windows 10 Mobile to a bigger screen, you get a PC-like experience. That is the smoothness of Continuum. Read More What is Miracast How to Use Miracast to Stream Media Wirelessly What is Miracast? How to Use Miracast for Wireless Media Streaming While HDMI is the standard for connecting media devices, it has many disadvantages. Here's how to use Miracast instead. Continue reading .

Support for Bluetooth keyboards and mice means you can sit at a desk next to your phone. The content is displayed on a monitor in the normal Windows 10 style. You can then type, browse the web, or perform other computerized tasks - and the phone will still let you take calls.

It's not just Microsoft that offers this type of technology. Canonical's Ubuntu Touch mobile platform can also use the Convergence System to transform a compatible device into a compact, portable PC. This is how Ubuntu Phone becomes a desktop PC with Convergence. This is how Ubuntu Phone becomes a desktop PC with its own mobile-to-desktop software. If your device is compatible and the OTA-11 update (or higher) is running, you can turn your phone into a PC. Continue reading .

While iOS is a bit behind, there is now an option for Android called the Maru OS. This is a custom distro optimized for use on desktops and offers a similar (albeit wired) experience to Continuum and Convergence.

Getting started with Maru OS

That sounds pretty good, but Maru has one downside. It is currently only available for the Google Nexus 5 (2013). Google Nexus 5 Review and Giveaway Google Nexus 5 Review and Giveaway Roughly a year after Google released the Nexus 4, the company behind Android released its successor - the Nexus 5 Read More If you have one of these lying around, we recommend checking out Maru OS as it is really impressive.

If you don't have a Nexus 5 available, skip to the next section to see some Maru alternatives.

To use Maru, you'll either need to download a desktop installer (options for Linux, macOS, and Windows are available) or if you've already installed a custom recovery. What is a custom restore? Exploring CWM, TWRP, and Friends What is a Custom Restore? Exploring CWM, TWRP, and Friends If you've ever thought about tinkering with your Android device, you've probably read that you need to flash a custom recovery onto it before you can do anything serious. But that raises some questions. Read More update.zip File.

Use the desktop installer

If you're interested in installing a new version of Android on your phone, you are probably already using a custom restore. However, if you want to use the desktop installer, it's pretty straightforward.

After you've downloaded the correct version for your desktop operating system, connect your Android device via USB. At this stage, you need to understand that the current content will be completely erased. So if there is any title, photo, movie, or other data that you want to keep, you need to back it up first.

If you are using Windows, You need to enable USB debugging on the device. What is USB Debugging Mode in Android and how can I enable it? What is USB Debugging Mode for Android and how do I enable it? USB debugging makes it easy to send commands from your computer to your phone. How It Works and Why Should You Consider It? Continue reading . Next, download and install the Google USB Drivers for Android using these clear instructions from Google. Finally, navigate to the downloaded zip file, unzip it, and then double click To install.

For Linux, Open a terminal in the unzipped downloaded file and do the following:

If you are using macOS, Unzip the installer, right click Install and choose Open.

Whichever version you are using, follow the on-screen instructions to install Maru OS on your Nexus 5.

Install Maru using a custom restore

The easiest way to install Maru on your Android device is by custom recovery. First, download the update.zip option from the download page (at the time of writing, it does) maru-v0.2.3-update -hammerhead-340b552a.zip) and copy it to your Android device via USB. Alternatively, you can download it straight to your Android device. The download is 653 MB.

With the update.zip When you've copied the file to your phone's phone memory, all you need to do is reboot, select To install, then look for that update.zip File and install. After that, wipe the Dalvik cache, restart the Maru Android distribution (currently based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow), and you're good to go!

Use the Maru device as a PC

You have installed Maru. The next step is to maximize your productivity.

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With your phone restarted and plugged into HDMI with a dongle like the one above, all you need is a bluetooth keyboard and mouse 12 of the Best Wireless All-in-One Keyboards for Mac and PC 12 of the Best Wireless All-in -One keyboards for Mac and PC The wireless all-in-one keyboards turn a boring living room computer into an exciting home theater PC. Which one is best for you Read More To do this, open Settings and find the new section Desktop. Tap dashboardThen turn the switch on top On.

On your TV you will then see a version of the Linux operating system, Debian, with the Xfce desktop environment XFCE: Your lighter, faster, full-fledged Linux desktop XFCE: Your lighter, faster, and full-fledged Linux desktop Linux goes, customization is king. Not only that, but the customization options are so great that you can turn your head. I mentioned the differences between the great desktop environments earlier ... read on. The work can begin!

Now Maru OS is still limited to one device and is in active development. We encourage you to go to maruos.com to learn more. Visit the dedicated Maru OS Google Group if you need help.

What if i don't have a nexus? 5?

So you like the look of what's possible with Maru, but you don't have a Nexus 5 version for 2013 - what can you do? Is it easier to just use a Chromecast 7? 7 things you didn't know you could work with a Chromecast 7? 7 Things You Couldn't Do With a Chromecast You finally took the plunge and bought yourself a shiny new Chromecast, but what? happens next? Here are seven things you didn't know you could do with one of Google's dongles ... Read on, or are there any tools that offer a desktop-like experience for Android?

Fortunately, there are a few Play Store apps available to install on your current Android device, so you can turn them into a literal Pocket PC with minimal fuss. No TWRP restore or installer is required here!

Leena desktop user interface

Once installed, you can run the Leena desktop user interface. Note, however, that this is essentially a desktop-oriented launcher. If you can already cast your Android device to a TV, then you can use Leena.

Of course you will need a bluetooth mouse and keyboard, but once those are connected and you broadcast the Leena user interface to your TV or monitor, you will almost forget you are using a phone in the first place!

Andromium OS (Beta)

As you might have guessed, this solution is still in beta, but you can install it and try it out through Google Play. The usual Miracast dongle is recommended along with the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for your HDMI TV, although Andromium OS is only half the story. A device called the Superbook is also available if you want, which is a kind of blank laptop that you can plug your Android smartphone into.

Is there an official option coming?

Given the lead Android has taken in wirelessly broadcasting mobile devices to a TV via Chromecast, it's strange that it lags behind in dynamic convergence between form factor and platform. But maybe we're wrong. maybe Android has a fully built-in desktop casting option for Android 8.0.

What do you think? Have you tried out Maru, Leena, or Andromium OS? Are you familiar with Microsoft or Canonical's mobile desktop options and want to see something better from Android? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Learn more about: Android, Android Customization, HDMI, Miracast.