About this project
Console OS Pro - Android Remastered for the Desktop. With InstaSwitch, WindowFlinger, Hundreds of Features & Free Upgrades for Life!
Android on the PC. Android taking on the desktop. Lots of people have talked about it - we’re delivering.
We’ve taken Android apart, and put it back together for your PC. Console OS is a fork of Android designed to take everything that has made mobile awesome and bring it back to your PC.
This isn’t an emulator and this isn’t homebrew. Console OS is real, native Android that can really toggle with Windows on your PC.
How Console OS stacks up to the emulators and other Android PC initiatives
What if you could toggle between native Android, and native Windows?
Android is the most popular operating system in the world today. More new devices are born with Android, than anything else. We're taking the next step, and bringing Android back to the desktop.
That’s what this Kickstarter is raising money to pull off.
Production-grade Android on the Desktop
Team iConsole has worked for the past 18 months to make sure everything from (optional) multi-touch to Miracast™ works great.
We fully support many popular multi-touch displays that can turn the smallest to the largest desktops into giant multi-touch Android devices. And no, you don’t need a multi-touch display for Android to be awesome on your PC - we’ve made the UX both multi-touch and non-touch friendly.
Console OS is painless to install - for end-users and system builders alike.
This is what makes Console OS so great. You can either install it on your PC's internal drive, or run it entirely from a USB external hard disk.
We’re not talking a demo (or "live") version either; all your apps, documents, even encryption can work booting directly from a USB hard disk.
Want to boot Windows alongside Android from your internal drive? No problem - we think that's what most will do, and we fully support that. Our installer takes less than five minutes to pull that off, automagically.
Built for the Mainstream
Every thing in Console OS is built for a mainstream audience. It is designed to provide OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) with a drop-in, native Android solution for their PCs. Console OS will be both Secure Boot and dm-verify - which means trusted computing that OEMs can ship alongside Windows.
For Tablets Too
Tablets today come on x86 and ARM. But, they only run Windows. Or, they only run Android. You shouldn’t have to buy two identical tablets to do one job.
Console OS is the solution. We’ve built a version of Android that we completely control. So, we can drop it in and run Windows and Android side-by-side.
The benefit? Say you have an x86 tablet or device that doubles as a tablet and a laptop. You can rock through the workday with Microsoft Office, then play your favorite Android game all night long. Same hardware, different operating systems, living in harmony.
But we’re doing more, including enabling Android apps to run side-by-side, baking in a familiar app launcher, and swipe motions that are more natural.
For Gamers Too
People don’t think of Android today as a true console-quality gaming experience. But that’s changing. Live at GDC, we showed off how OpenGL ES 3.1 (and eventually the full OpenGL 4 stack) will enable Console OS and Android to become a mainstream gaming platform.
And we do expect Console OS to support OpenGL 4. Why would you need another gaming OS when Android is already the most popular OS in the world.
From the application store process to the user experience, we’ve been working for the past year and a half to remaster Android for the desktop. Now, we need your help to make it a revolution.
Be an early backer and get all the benefits of Console OS Pro - free for life!
Console OS Pro - Taking Android Even Farther
Console OS Pro will add over twenty killer premium features, including InstaSwitch. InstaSwitch will eventually facilitate switching instantaneously between native Windows and native Android, on your x86-based tablet or PC.
Typically $20/year, we’re going to make Console OS Pro free for life for select Kickstarter backers! That’s right, back us now, get free upgrades for life to Console OS Pro.
InstaSwitch will leverage cutting-edge XenGT technology. It's the one feature that we know will be the most challenging, but will eventually deliver instant toggling between native Android and other operating systems. Imagine editing a document in Microsoft Office®, playing Half-Life 3™ in SteamOS™, and reviewing your Gmail™ inside Android... all from the same tablet or gaming rig.
Console OS Pro, more specifically, is set to include the following:
- WindowFlinger – A true window manager for Android – run Android apps in windows (Console OS - standard version - will run two apps side-by-side)
- InstaSwitch – Building a new hypervisor to instantly toggle between native Android and native Windows
- Console Remote Access -> Remotely access your Console OS device from any old Android
- Additional codecs and media playback support
- Native DVR support (planned ATSC, DVB, QAM/CableCARD, & DTCP-IP)
- Built-in media serving (UPnP and DLNA)
- Console Files – A new file manager we’re building in to the desktop
- Console Maps Pro – Premium Maps with Enhanced Turn-by-Turn
Android is built differently from Windows, OS X, and even traditional Linux platforms. So, we have to build Android for one device at a time to make sure it always works awesomely. That’s a huge chunk of the benefit behind Console OS - you get Android built just for your PC.
We support Android for devices based on demand - and when you back the Kickstarter, you’ll help tell us which devices Console OS with Android Inside should land on.
It's important to note that Console OS will work just fine with gazillions of other PCs too - but we're providing official targeted devices, because we want to point customers to PCs and PC Tablets that we are confident that everything will "just work" out of the box.
Out of the gates, we will support (over!) 25 iconic Laptops, PCs, x86 tablets and convertible devices with Console OS. And, here they are:
- Acer: Aspire S7
- ASUS: Transformer Book T100, T300
- CircuitCo: Minnowboard MAX
- Dell: XPS 11, XPS 12, XPS 13, and XPS 15, Venue 8 Pro, Venue 11 Pro
- Gigabyte: Most BRIX Models, H87-ITX, Z87-ITX
- Intel: Next Unit of Computing (all NUC models except for Celeron 847)
- Lenovo: Miix 2 8-inch, Miix 2 10-inch, IdeaPad U430p, ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Yoga 2, Yoga 2 Pro
- Sager: NP2740
- Sony: VAIO Tap 11, VAIO Pro 11 & 13
- System76: Galago UltraPro
- Toshiba: Portégé R30 & Z30, Satellite L55, Tecra A50, Z50 & Z40
- Most Portable All-in-One Systems
- And, of course, all of our own iConsole-branded hardware like the iConsole Developer Kit
Support for additional systems will be steered by OEM backing and by the community.
Want to see your PC up there? Back the Kickstarter – and your vote will count in telling us which PCs to support next.
As to Macintosh, and Surface Pro, see above. We’ll support them if we get enough backing to do so.
As a stealth startup, we didn’t get asked by anyone to do this. Console OS is our product, and we're fiercely independent. We relied on Intel’s promise to work with disruptive startups – and they made good on that commitment.
We’re the first startup to successfully license all the key bits that make Android rock on PC hardware, a testament to Intel’s promise to keep startups on a fair, level playing field with the big guys.
We’re featuring support for all the innovative hardware that x86 systems rock on the desktop, even advanced features like Miracast, HDCP, HDMI mirroring, dual-display, 4K with DisplayPort, ARM NDK app compatibility, and native hardware-accelerated H.264 decoding.
Our App Store, Our UX, Our Android™
One of the reasons homebrew versions of Android have failed, is the lack of Google Play. Google doesn’t let you install Google Play on Android without the device being certified. So, over the past year, we’ve lined up all the apps and tools needed to make you not miss Google Play.
We’re going to stay true to the Android code, we’re 100% Android compatible, with strict adherence to the Android API stack - Dalvik, Bionic, and ART, and even RenderScript.
We’re only forking the user experience to make Android awesome on the desktop.
But, we know you probably own a lot of apps on Google Play™. So, we’re going to support the following:
- The Console Store - Our upcoming application store for Console OS-enhanced Android apps (un-modified Android apps typically work great - even with a keyboard and mouse!)
- Importing App Purchases (since we’re Android-compatible) – via Console OS Import Apps tool for your phone or tablet. Copies licensed apps to your Console OS PC or PC Tablet.
- Amazon Appstore for Android
How’d we pull all this off?
We’ve been working in stealth mode for the past 18 months. We quietly shipped iConsole.tv Unit 00, a developer kit for our upcoming Android gaming console. It’s the fastest Android ever built, and it was already using Intel® Core processors inside.
Unit 00 is out of stock right now, but as we mentioned earlier we'll have more hardware to share later this month!
When we realized people really want to instantly switch between Windows and Android, we started taking what we learned with iConsole.tv, and built it out into Console OS today.
When will it be ready?
We're aiming to ship Console OS Developer Release 1 within about 30 days of the Kickstarter’s conclusion.
From there, we’ll use Kickstarter funds to build out support for the devices that you vote for.
Our goal is to implement all of the features listed here over the next year, but we may ship Console OS 1.0 before that depending on the challenges that we encounter. Our goal is to give the OEMs something to ship in time for compelling new x86 tablets and convertibles this winter to ship in stores.
Okay, I’m sold. What’s in it for me?
In summary, you’re helping us make Android awesome, and fiercely independent on the PC. We’d much rather you keep us honest and focused than alternatives.
On most backer tiers, you’ll get Console OS Pro free for life. And, you’ll vote on what PCs and tablets with x86 processors that we should branch out to next with officially-supported Console OS builds.
The first 10,000 backers can get Console OS Pro for life for only $9.99. After that, $14.99. That’s still less the cost of one release of Console OS Pro for all the PCs in your family.
Thanks for your support!
Risks and challenges
We have most of Developer Release 1 done. It'll include a starter version of our user experience and should work on all 25 devices we listed in the initial supported device list.
The Console OS Pro feature set is largely what funds will go toward (in addition to expanding device support, based largely on Kickstarter backer votes).
We expect Console OS (Pro) 1.0 around December, 2014. We can't promise each and every device/feature/item will make the cut, as with any operating system, some features will get added, and some delayed.
We hope that ecosystem players (here's looking at you, Google) embrace and support our innovation. We don't expect too much push back, but it is a potential risk when doing anything with Android. The beauty of Console OS being so disruptive, is there's potential for all kinds of interesting relationships.
A lot of people ask about Android and Chrome OS™. We think native Android will be totally awesome even if the two were to merge. If something crazy like that were to happen (and Google has said it won't), our feature set may change - but it won't hurt our efforts.
More generally, however, major changes to Android may cause us to have to rewrite portions of our code. We're ready for that.
Finally, as to open-source challenges, we plan to contribute all direct AOSP improvements back to AOSP. How much of that Google will accept or allow us to submit, is up to Google, not us.
Console OS is an operating system - the contents and features of which may change, shift, or move around the cabin during delivery.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes! While we support dual-booting with Windows, you can install Console OS on a completely blank hard drive and use it as your primary operating system.
We have a few videos already - some from earlier this year in the ramp up to unveiling Console OS:
Console OS Launch Video
Console OS Delivering Android™ to Surface™ Pro 3
GDC Preview Video - YouTube
MWC Interview with UltrabookNews.com - YouTube
That's our new goal! Surface Pro (including the all-new Surface Pro 3) is our first stretch goal.
Watch our announcement video, here: http://consoleos.com/omg-surface-pro-3-and-surface-pro-2-and-surface-pro
The challenge with Surface Pro is that it has several chipsets that no other PC uses today. Supporting them is going to require custom driver development work.
If we raise $125,000, we believe we'll have the resources needed to move the entire Surface Pro into the supported device column.
You won't need a second license for Surface Pro (3). Anyone that backs us $10 or more will get in on the Surface Pro love with Console OS.
Hello (again) Mac users. See our last question on Surface Pro. Ironically, it's very similar technical info. But again, backers of the Kickstarter will help us decide if we should allocate resources there, during Hardware Voting that gets underway at the end of the campaign.
Macintosh has its own, non-UEFI bootloader (though it is EFI-compatible). Supporting it, and its not-so-documented EFI stack will require custom code as our GUI bootloader requires UEFI currently. And then there's Apple's trackpad, Apple's wireless, Apple's ALS, yadda, yadda. We know what needs to be done there - we just need to know how much it will be in-demand from backers before committing limited funds and resources.
Microsoft restrictions on Windows® RT prohibit the development of a dual-boot solution for any Windows ARM-based device. We can't do much there, unfortunately.
Today Console OS is strictly a PC/Intel Tablet/x86 affair. We have enough work cut out for us.
Good question - we need your help deciding that one. We know the market for Intel tablets, 2-in-1's, and Ultrabooks is huge - we know that from talking to the OEMs (system manufacturers). And we've already noted support for select desktops like Intel NUC.
But we're not sure how much demand there is from people building their own PCs. Backers of the Kickstarter will participate in Hardware Voting, and we'll have several questions there related to custom-built PCs. Once we aggregate that data, we'll have a good sense of how to best support as many custom-built PCs as possible.
As we've said all along, backers of Console OS will get to have the most influence on what hardware we support with Console OS, as we build to our goal of supporting the whole PC marketplace.
As far as we can. Anything from the year 2011 or newer has a great shot at being supported in the long run.
Older machines have issues running Android for two reasons, typically. One, they don't support modern instruction sets. x86 today runs great because of modern stuff like SSE4 and AES-NI, not just raw horsepower. Two, old GPUs. An old x86 GPU may sound like it can blast past what an Android smartphone can do today, but again, it may not support the latest standards like OpenGL ES 3.
Our goal is to support all the x86 and PC hardware that can run Android as well as a modern Android tablet. If it can't do that, we would encourage you to use an alternative project like Android-x86.org that is more compatible with older hardware, but may not run the latest and greatest Android technologies.
We, on the other hand, are focused on making Android scale up to the awesome horsepower of today's PCs and Intel-based tablets.
Thus far, we haven't found very many older systems that would run Console OS with Android™ Inside well, and lack UEFI. At this point, it's a requirement - but one we would be open to changing if Hardware Voting shows a significant interest (from backers) in creating a non-UEFI version.
One of the benefits of UEFI support is that Console OS can be compatible with the Windows Secure Boot initiative. After our developer releases, you'll just be able to install Console OS, without changing any firmware settings like Secure Boot.
(For the non-geeks out there, UEFI is the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface - if your PC came with Windows 7, odds are it has UEFI. If your PC came with Windows 8 or 8.1, it has UEFI built-in).
And, if you're not a geek, fear not! All the above means we've worked hard to think through how to make it painless to install Console OS alongside even the latest versions of Windows®.
If we can, we will. We have reached out to Valve and are continuing discussions with them on topics like this one. Valve has not finalized the SteamOS bootloader or partition maps yet, so we can't give a clear answer just yet.
As to Steam Machines, they're not out yet. We haven't gotten guidance from Valve (we're still talking on that front too, especially for our own iConsole.tv family of hardware). As soon as we get technical guidance, we'll know more. Until then, the best we can say is it will be decided on a machine-by-machine basis.
We have promised that systems in our iConsole.tv family of hardware will support end-user SteamOS installs. We hope to have more formal support for SteamOS on that front in the near future.
It's our goal to do so - but we had to limit our feature list to the bare minimum that we can shoot for with our initial goal of $50,000 to raise. We actually dual-boot with Ubuntu in the lab, routinely, so it's a matter of when, not if.
As to other flavors of Linux, it'll be based on demand but once we support Ubuntu, most Debian-based flavors should fall into order.
If I contribute to the $100 Tier, can I plug my web site / Twitter handle / G+ account in the about box?
Yes, provided that it's nothing objectionable. We can also change the backer name to a company/commercial product if you so choose - same rules apply.
We already support HDMI and DisplayPort mirroring. Our long-term goals are to support the Android auxiliary display API, first introduced in Android 4.2, and help it grow to support more powerful devices like what Console OS typically runs on.
Longer term, we're interested in working with Google to expand the Android display definition so that windowed apps can run across multiple displays, such what we are aiming to implement in Console OS Pro.
From the moment we announced, we committed to sharing code improvements to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Even projects that overlap/compete with us in the Android ecosystem will benefit from our work. We're trying to raise funds so that there's a startup that does nothing but focus on the Android PC/x86 ecosystem - and enhancing AOSP for that silicon is exactly what we'll be tasking our engineers with doing.
To be clear, for every AOSP component that we improve, we'll offer code commits to AOSP for inclusion into AOSP. At the end of the day, it's up to Google and AOSP code maintainers if they will accept our improvements on a case-by-case basis. If we have a significant lack of uptake on those improvements (which we don't expect), we'll look into other ways to get our changes to the community.
Backers (who kick in $5 or more) will get a ballot at the end of the Kickstarter campaign. Some sections will be yes-or-no, some will let you cast votes for particular devices and custom PC configurations. How many votes you have (on those sections) will be based on your backer tier.
Don't worry, we'll keep it simple. You'll get your ballot emailed to you if you backed $5 or more at the end of the campaign. We can't send them out now as Kickstarter doesn't provide important bits like your email address until after the campaign is over.
We expect the Hardware Voting process will take less than 30 minutes of your time. It's meant to be straightforward, but detailed enough for us to be able to assess properly what the community wants from us in terms of hardware support.
Our competitive comparison chart (available above and at ConsoleOS.com) starts to explain. We can't deliver manufacturer-grade Android inside a virtual machine.
Modern Android relies on the GPU - and virtualizing an Android GPU makes it impossible to scale Android properly, and deliver a true PC-quality experience. This is why no Android VM today can handle things like OpenGL ES 3, and why we can with dual-boot.
In the long run, we're working to build a hypervisor that we call InstaSwitch, atop XenGT. This will allow for toggling between Windows and Android with near-zero performance impact on either, both to the processor, and to the graphics quality and performance of each operating system.
Where we can. Of course our focus is on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support initially. As Android and Windows device designs converge, it should become much easier for us to support LTE radios.
We already have approved one LTE radio but we're working on more and will have details soon.
Kickstarter-vended Console OS Pro licenses will cover every PC you own and personally use, with free upgrades for life. You don't need to back us twice just because you own two PCs that you'd like to use Console OS Pro on.
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