Motorola’s OneCompute Moto Mod could turn the Moto Z into a desktop computer

Still a concept that is part of the Motorola Moto Mods developer kit, OneCompute is a system that will turn the Motorola Moto Z into an Android powered desktop computer. Displayed at Lenovo’s Tech World last week, the system requires the use of a particular Moto Mod that is embedded with a chip from Keyssa. With the Moto Mod in place, the phone is connected with a Motorola built dock that contains several ports.

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dock-hands-100665608-makersofandroidThe dock includes three USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI jack, and a power connector. Users will use the dock to connect to a monitor, a mouse and a QWERTY keyboard. Similar to Microsoft’s Continuum, OneCompute doesn’t seem to be that far away from being a finished product.

During the event held by Motorola on Thursday, the company said that the Moto Mods would first be available later this summer. Perhaps OneCompute will be ready to go by then. The Moto Mods connect to the Moto Z through the use of 16 magnetic pins.

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While Motorola did make some changes to the Android platform for OneCompute, much of the interface does resemble what you might see on an Android tablet.

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Officially, Motorola employees said OneCompute is part of the Moto Mods Developer Kit, designed to show off the power of Moto Mods and lure third parties to the platform. But both the Moto Mod and dock itself are branded and have the appearance of near-final hardware. Without lengthy tests, it’s difficult to tell what, if any, bugs may have crept in. But my gut says that Motorola plans to ship this as a product, and soon.

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Why this matters: Peter Hortensius, Lenovo’s chief technology officer, cautioned reporters not to think of this as an Android version of Microsoft’s Continuum. Duly noted. But he also pointed out the relatively low numbers of users who may own a Windows phone. (To be fair, Moto Mods will work with only one Android phone at launch, which means OneCompute’s share—when and if it ships—could be equally minuscule.) Motorola showed off  the Android version of Word Mobile running on a Moto Z, filling a widescreen monitor like it belonged there. Oh, and it ran in a window that could be snapped to the left or right, just like in Windows 10. A major productivity advantage the Windows Mobile platform enjoyed apparently just evaporated.

microsoft-display-dock-100665609-origIt’s not exactly clear what changes Motorola made to Android to enable OneCompute, though the company says they were minimal. Certain tweaks, however, are very Windows-like: Windows had options to snap it to the left, right, or top of the screen. Apps could be windowed, and information cut and pasted from app to app. Applications could also be run inside standard windows, though this could have just been a standard Android N implementation.

Otherwise, Motorola doesn’t seem to have done too much to facilitate OneCompute. The company authored a OneCompute management app and built separate AMP Connect and AMP Disconnect apps. (A demo video that the company created—and which is in our attached video, above—shows that one of the advantages of OneCompute is the ability to dock and undock a video, while streaming, without needing to restart it.)

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