Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread

  • @wayneoutthere There are lots of other things for which a phone cannot suffice. And most people do most of those things. This is why I will never see "convergence" as a means for replacing most peoples' hardware with a single device.

    Yes, for plenty of people that may be possible. However, the best part of "convergence" has nothing to do with replacing hardware. It's really about the apps. Being able to use the same apps on any device.

    This is my problem with the whole focus on "convergence" as "plug your device into an external screen." That is not what convergence is about, but it's what so many seem to try and focus on.

  • @kugiigi That won't work if you want more than charging though. You need the video and USB data connections for a dock. So you'll have to trust that your screen and keys aren't being logged.

    So basically, I hope we don't see that happening. 🙂

  • @dobey said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    This is my problem with the whole focus on "convergence" as "plug your device into an external screen." That is not what convergence is about, but it's what so many seem to try and focus on.

    I see what you mean. But I think for you that isn't what its all about. For many it is. Canonical did showcase this aspect as a major feature and there is a company who is literally shipping a product that people are buying for this very purpose. But we can agree to disagree.

    Steve Jobs refused to release a bigger iPhone. He claimed it would cannibalize iPad sales. But now looking back we see bigger iphones and bigger iPad's. Both are selling. Nothing was replaced and I don't think anyone claimed converged devices would literally replace all our devices.

    I agree with your point though about keylogging on public docks. That would be a threat to seriously consider.

  • I think @dobey's right about convergence being all about the software, @Profetik777, and the idea of one code for everything is compelling. However it's a conversation about hardware, because it's hardware that sells.

  • @3arn0wl all about the software? Its Both thats all I was saying. You need both. Its up to the user to decide how they will want to use it. Some will be fans for different aspects. After all there are those who buy S9 without dex or using it like a convergent device. Others buy it w dex. Hence qualifying it for him. For him its all about software.

  • @Profetik777 said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    @3arn0wl all about the software? Its Both thats all I was saying. You need both. Its up to the user to decide how they will want to use it. Some will be fans for different aspects. After all there are those who buy S9 without dex or using it like a convergent device. Others buy it w dex. Hence qualifying it for him. For him its all about software.

    It's not all about software. But hardware without the software to back it up is completely meaningless. Otherwise you'd all just be running Android, plugging it into a screen, and calling it a day. Because you can just plop on a Linux chroot in all kinds of ways, and run an Xorg session to get mate/xfce/whatever running on the external screen.

    The hardware is merely some way to sell the software. Because software needs some place to run, and hardware needs something to be running on it. The whole point of convergence is to blur the line, not to keep harping on about replacing other devices or whatever. And it's not about bringing traditional Linux distributions to phones. It's more about bringing many of the ideas of phone/tablet applications, security, power management, etc… to traditional PCs, and providing the same experience on all of your phones/tablets/PCs, so you can use the same apps on both, and for the people who want to use only a phone/tablet with an external screen/keyboard as their only "computer" if they think it's suitable, they can do that. But that itself is very secondary.

    If you're talking about Canonical wanting to sell Ubuntu 4 Android (and the Ubuntu Edge), that is much closer to Samsung DeX/MaruOS, than it is to what UT is today.

  • @dobey thanks for sharing. Not sure where I or anyone made the point you are attempting to counter with but good reminders overall and in general.

  • @wayneoutthere said in Convergence: The Hardware-Focused Discussion Thread:

    Is it better to have just one device?

    Probably not. It depends on one's needs. Most people will probably need a main machine for doing other things. There's also the issue of security and compliance to consider, in workplaces. To be in compliance with various regulations, many companies have hard restrictions on what hardware employees can use (or which they can connect to the company WiFi). There's a very wide range of uses, and while a few people may be able to suffice with only a phone in their lives, with an external screen/keyboard/mouse to use sometimes, in my experience, most can't.

    What kind of hardware is best?

    That's a very vague and subjective question. Best for what? And is it limited to only devices which are currently supported by UT? The most complete experience with a UT device on an external screen today, will probably be had with either one of the M10 tablets, or the Nexus 4. The device with the most powerful hardware, is the Pro 5.

    Does the market want this?

    Probably not? But it's not answerable when the market doesn't already have it. How can people know whether they want something or not, when they have no idea what it is? If you judge this based on say, sales of Samsung DeX devices, versus all the devices which can't work this way, the the answer is surely no. But, we get to define our own market, so it's a pretty irrelevant question. Also, we're not making any money off it, so whether others want it or not is irrelevant. We're building it for ourselves and letting others use it for free if they want.

    What kind of creative set up environments can we dream up?

    There's literally no context for this. What does it mean? How people would use their UT devices in the wild if full convergence was capable today?

    Personally, I would never plug my phone into an external monitor, as a means to replace a laptop/PC. Only to stream video or such. I would also, as a matter of security, only want to send a stream from a specific app to the external display. I would however, want to have my phone and main PC "connected" to each other so I could reply to SMS or be notified of incoming calls, from my PC if I choose. And I would carry the smallest folding bluetooth keyboard I could get, that was still usable, with a stand, so I could type complicated things while sitting at the pub or on a plane.

  • @dobey I want to argue with Dobey but I like what he's writing here. 🙂

    Especially the part about software. I actually... never thought much about this because up until recently I didn't know anything about coding. Now that he mentions it how awesome would it be for a horrible programmer like me to sweat for 1 year on some simple app and then magically have it usable on every platform. That is, truly awesome. And the amount of dollars saved for a software company to be able to do that would be impossible to record. This is truly a significant consideration and definitely a worth cause with or without the hardware to consider.

    Imagine even a 'tech support' environment where 99% of the learning was done and then you just have slight hardware related 'tweaks' to your base of understanding? This would be massive for any kind of IT support environment whether a third party company or an internal IT dept. Wow.

    And then comes in snaps and flatpaks. Amazing. Deploy a flatpak/snap and have it roll out to phones, tablets too? Dang. Amazing.

    So, I have to say 'thanks' to Mr. @dobey. This is huge eye opener thought for me and not sure how I didn't see this before ....

  • I agree with Rodney about convergence on the software-side. It will benefit both developers and users and I think it would be really awesome. But I guess this thread wants to focus on the "phone-to-desktop" side of convergence? 🙂

  • I was just listening to the Linux Action News podcast that was linked this morning, because UBports was featured - the two guys seemed fairly skeptical about converging apps...

    Are they more difficult to build?
    Are developers finding it tricky to get the design right for both touch and mouse?

  • Convergence is mostly a software thing. There are two parts to this:

    1. flexibility: the software including shell and application GUI adapts to the capabilities of the hardware it runs on.
      This means that the same software, with the same features, works well on a desktop, a phone or a toaster.

    2. agility: the software including shell and application GUI adapts to changes to the capabilities of the hardware is running on.
      This means that connecting a display, keyboard, dock etc. will enable user interactions optimized for these.

    Most existing software is not designed for either of these goals. The Ubuntu Touch experience of using "desktop" apps in Libertine speaks to this, it is possible to use these applications, but the interaction is poor because these apps do not adapt to the hardware. This can change but, like any change, there will be costs, pain and resistance until suddenly it will be done and everyone wonders why it was ever any different.

    But the software is only a part of what is being alluded to here. Real use-cases are not about using a specific piece of software, they are about accomplishing goals: publishing something, learning something, meeting someone. That needs a combination of user data, software and access to hardware.

    I've had a long career in software development and seen computing shift from centralized "mainframe" computers that hold the data and programs for multiple users to "personal" computers that hold a users data and programs and back to centralized "clouds" that hold all the data. That change has been driven by economics: changes in the costs of computers and of connecting them.

    While there are legitimate privacy and security concerns the economic drivers are currently pushing towards centralization and connections. Many apps are little more than optimized front-ends for data and computational services elsewhere on the internet. I think this trend will continue before a readjustment back towards "personal" computation.

    In this context, any "one device" we might carry is more about having the keys (or passwords) we need to accomplish our daily tasks than carrying all the software and data we use. If both my laptop and phone can support all my daily tasks interchangably, browsing the web, emailing, Telegram, IRC, software development, video calling, phone calls, SMS, etc. then I need only take the one best suited to the occasion. Having the same software and keys on both is what would make them interchangable. (And yes, phone calls are best on a phone while software development is best on a laptop, but making both possible gives me control.)

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