Over the past few years, we’ve spilled a fair amount of digital ink talking about what a Chrome OS phone could or should look like. (If someone were to take the initiative to make one.) For the most part, I’ve imagined a device that looks and functions just like any other smartphone, only running Chrome OS and Android in tandem. That device would work as a phone but then be able to dock and extend a full version of Chrome OS to another display.
It seems that one company has decided to take the leap into this arena but have come up with a very unique twist on the concept and I must say, I am very intrigued. castAway™ Case has launched on IndieGoGo and is offering to turn your smartphone into a foldable, dual-screen workhorse that matches a Chromium OS-powered tablet with your Android or iOS device. The concept is quite fascinating as it solves a number of problems that have often come up when talking about bridging mobile and desktop.
The tablet side of the device features an OP1 processor, 4GB of RAM and 32Gb of storage. This is all shoved into a tiny 6.3″ or 5.8″ QXGA touchscreen. Essentially, we’re looking at the same internals found in the original Samsung Chromebook Plus or the Acer Chromebook R13. The case cradles the tablet and your phone and connects them with castAway’s “magic” magnetic hinge system.
On the software side, the tablet and phone will be synced using castAways’ MultiTask+™ app which allows them to “communicate over encrypted Wifi.” Even when the tablet is detached and functioning as a standalone PC, it will continue to sync with your phone via the MultiTask+™ application. The team is also working on a dock for the castAway tablet that features power, LAN and HDMI connections which means you could seriously use this as not only a companion to your smartphone but your desktop device, as well.
I’ll be interested to see castAway in action. As a prototype that’s built on a low-powered ARM platform, you shouldn’t expect a premium Chrome OS experience but I don’t think that’s the big takeaway here. The castAway crew will be creating an Open Source project around their MultiTask+™ to encourage developers to find new and inventive ways to leverage this concept. With Qualcomm headed to Chrome OS, I could imagine a newer ARM-based version of this concept could be very appealing to a variety of users.
If you’re interested in learning more or perhaps supporting this project, you can get all the details on castAways’ IndieGoGo page where you can reserve yours. The castAway case is slated for launch in May of 2020. Looking forward to seeing how this one pans out. The only missing piece is support from Google that would allow an official build of Chrome OS to run on the tablet.