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Remix OS might just make you want to put Android on your laptop

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Earlier this year at CES we were introduced to Remix OS — an Android variant from Jide that turns Google's mobile operating system into a desktop OS. Remix takes basic Android and adds all the elements you'd expect on a PC or Mac: there's support for mice and keyboards, a windowed interface, a file manager, system bar, and a dock at the bottom of the screen for your apps. And because it's based on Android, it already has a load of apps ready to use — from Facebook and Microsoft Word to Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga.

Today at Mobile World Congress, the company announced that the software's beta will be available to download — for free — from March 1st, adding support for more machines and over-the-air updates. We tried out an early version on a Dell laptop, and the results were impressive. Although there were a few bugs and glitches, like delays with resizing windows, overall the experience felt pretty smooth and looked just as good. The company says it's currently reaching out to early users to try and iron out these ticks.

"The next area [for Android] is going to be moving into the PC space."

Speaking to The Verge, Jide's co-founder David Ko says he believes the future of Android definitely includes desktop devices. He says that after many years, the app ecosystem is now strong enough to support this transition, and the necessary hardware is cheap and available. "The next area [for Android] is going to be moving into the PC space," says Ko. "Productivity is going to be key."

You could point to the success of Google's Chromebooks as an inexpensive parallel here. Chromebooks tend to be positioned as a simple way of getting basic tasks done — checking email, typing out documents, browsing the web — and Remix OS seems like it could fit into the same market. It even looks quite a bit like ChromeOS, although Ko says Jide is targeting a "different sector."

However, the operating system needs more work before it's ready for wider adoption. Jide say the first full release of Remix OS should be coming out in three to six months, but the company is still waiting for Google's approval to directly integrate Google Play Services and the Play Store into the OS. These items have to be sideloaded at the moment (and this isn't really optional), and it's an extra bit of hassle for those who want to test out the software. Ko says the company is "constantly talking" to Google about this, and is confident they'll get full approval some time later this year.

Jide seems certain that desktop computer are part of the future of Android. The company is working with a number of other firms to bring the software to new devices, and says hardware partners are aiming to release the first dedicated Remix OS machines in 2016 and 2017. Right now, though, the software is available as a free download, or preloaded onto Jide's pebble-like mini-computer. And, if you've got an old machine that you fancy breathing some new life into, Remix OS might be worth a try.

Remix OS beta MWC