Apr 03 AT 5:13 PM Taylor Wimberly 22 Comments

Motorola is turning Android into a desktop OS with Webtop 3.0


Can Android 4.0 replace a desktop PC? We have already examined that question, and now it appears Motorola believes the answer is yes. Their Droid RAZR is expected to see a software update to Android 4.0 as early as next week, which delivers a totally new Webtop experience.

Previously, Motorola’s Webtop software allowed a phone to plugin into a smart dock that launched a custom Linux desktop that featured Firefox for as the browser. We thought it was an innovative feature when it debuted at CES 2011, but the actual experience turned out to be pretty sluggish and frustrating.

We predicted that the Motorola Atrix 4G and Webtop software were a good indicator of where Android was headed, and now it appears that has come true.

A leaked copy of the Android 4.0 update for the Droid RAZR reveals a new “Webtop 3.0 beta” that does away with the limited Linux desktop and provides users with a full Android 4.0 tablet UI when a device is docked to a larger display.

I’m pretty excited to see that this different-UI-for-different-displays feature is finally coming to Android phones. Hopefully handset makers will enable it over HDMI, MHL, and eventually WiFi Display.

This is similar to the functionality of the new ASUS Padfone, but it’s interesting to see Motorola go this direction after the acquisition by Google.

We now expect that Motorola will include this feature on all their new high-end Android phones. Check out the quick video below to get a sneak peek of what it will look like.

Via: Droid-Life

Source: YouTube

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Yonas

    Whats with the minecraft music in the video ?

  • BlkSquad

    Nice, now if Motorola comes out with a 5.3″ display I’ll consider it. ;)

  • Dirge

    What’s with the icons on the dock? Looks sort of like iOS(since android has its dock on the right when in landscape).

  • http://keridel.blogspot.com keridel

    I’ve just spent the day with cannonical interviewing them and learning about ubuntu for android.

    It’s pretty much the same as this except it will be for everyone not motorola.

    I’m dead excited about it. it looks amazing and really quick.

    • pr0thizzle

      I want to know if we could install Ubuntu for older devices or it will only come pre shipped on devices?

    • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

      It’s not a bad move, we could consider it as a reply from Google, since Google acquired Motorola. I think it wouldn’t take long for me to get used to it :D They should strongly consider charging the phone over HDMI, since battery life is an issue with smartphones and it would be perfect.

  • matt

    Hope the atrix 2 gets it.

  • spazby

    looks really promising…. i am sure google will make it better, even though moto will be “managed independently”…

    • Jeremy Sheehan

      “Managed independently” *snicker, snicker*

      That’s why Sanjay was replaced by a googlier even before the deal was finished? I’m certain that they’re going to play nicely for the first couple of years, but soon the Android team and Motorola will be working hand in hand “supercharging” the mobile industry. Just my $.02

      • Jeremy Sheehan

        Just read this from a wired article. It’s an opinion article about Page’s first year back in the seat as CEO of Google. Goes along with Motorola Mobility being managed independently. Second paragraph is the meat of it.

        Page attacked his patent gap in a characteristic fashion: he sought a solution by broadening his response beyond the specific problem. Instead of just buying a patent portfolio (an approach that was challenging anyway, since Google’s competitors were collaborating to snatch up the ones on the market), he bought a whole company – Motorola Mobility. We know what he intends to do with the patents – use them to sue Apple and other competitors until they sit down at the bargaining table and declare mutual disarmament. But what he intends to do with the handset manufacturer he now owns is a mystery.

        The least likely possibility is that Page will operate Motorola with few changes. Google thrives on disrupting industries, and now it has the chance to rethink the hardware world. It’s unimaginable that Page won’t do something interesting. Will his schemes justify the huge purchase? Will expanding Google’s headcount by nearly 20,000 Motorola employees overwhelm Page’s attempts to stave off bureaucratic paralysis? Way too soon to tell.

  • Ishiken

    Still waiting for them to release Android as a desktop Linux distro. It would be nice and a lot easier to use. Here’s hoping with 5.0 Jellybean… ::fingers crossed::

    (Ubuntu doesn’t count as the Unity interface is a horrible affront to all that exists within the universe. At least it would be if it was finished and not a beta project Canonical is saying is finished.)

    • cthonctic

      Don’t like Unity? Understandable, yet easily fixable as Linux is at least as customizable as Android, if not more so.
      Just (sudo apt-get) install gnome-shell, kde or lxde which all run fine on Ubuntu 11.10 and 12.04

  • aranea

    I was excited about getting the webtop dock when I got my atrix but didn’t because I didn’t want to pay $20 extra every month for tethering. I think that’s what killed it. It’s still a phone and it still counts in my quota so ATT shouldn’t force customers to pay for tethering for using webtop.

    Also it’ll be great as pointed out in the article an option like this is available through HDMI or other outputs. I would love to be able to plug my phone to a projector and show a powerpoint presentation.

  • boone simpson

    I want this on my Droid 4 so bad.
    Love the idea of my lapdock 500, but it is sluggish,
    This + 14 inch Touchscreen (hardwired to lapdock usb port) = tablet. Now if only I could source a descent 14 inch touchscreen with multitouch…

  • Suggestion

    One word, tripod! The shaky camera is for movie effects…

  • kazahani

    Moto needs to straighten out their pricing on these webtop accessories. For what they were charging for the Atrix 4g webtop I could just go buy a new laptop.

    That aside, I applaud Motorola for their innovation. This is definitely the future of Android.

  • Derek

    I wouldnt want to use Android as a desktop OS. But what looks extremely interesting is Ubuntu mobile. Your device would run Android all the time, but when you dock your device, Ubuntu fires up and you are using a full blown version of Ubuntu on the device, and it has full access to the cellular modem. Check it out on the ubuntu website.

  • TheTruthSquad

    If the Bionic ever gets ICS, is it possible it will get Webtop 3.0 also? I guess the first question is will it ever get ICS?

  • aryin

    been waiting for so long… come on !!

  • phor11

    The Lap dock form factor also needs improvement.
    Why hide the phone behind the screen when instead you could dock the phone next to the keyboard and utilize the phone as a touchpad or dock the phone next to the screen to get even more view-able area?

  • Lokifish

    Bloody hell, all they did was duplicate my Evo Desktop PC project and add in a ppi switch for app rendering. WTF?

  • kzlife

    I’ve never thought about it, but at first I hated the launchbar on all tablets but when it’s docked to a keyboard it’s just like a normal mac/linux/pc.. splendid..

    By the way, does anyone have ics 4.0 on their tablets? If so, is it faster than honecomb without all the lag?