Even as smartphones get smarter and smarter, a lot of us still tend to think of phones and computers as different things.
But, when it comes down to it, smartphones are just computers that fit in our pockets. And, these days, most of them are more powerful than the desktop machines of not that long ago.
Now, a crowdfunding campaign is looking to put them together.
San Francisco-based Andromium has developed what it calls The Superbook – it’s a laptop shell that uses a smartphone as the actual computer.
Users plug their phones into the Superbook and, with the help of an app, their phone is essentially turned into a device with an 11.6-inch screen, a full physical keyboard and a multi-touch trackpad.
There are some obvious advantages – a bigger screen for watching videos or reading articles and a keyboard that’s easier to write with. The other big advantage is the price – the device will cost backers $99.
That could make it an attractive option for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money on multiple devices that just do the same thing in different sizes.
There are also applications in the developing world, where smartphones have become ubiquitous but full-sized computers – laptops or desktops – are too expensive for most people.
The Superbook will only work with Android phones and its creators say that iOS compatibility is unlikely, given Apple’s greater control over the app ecosystem for the phones it makes and the fact that it’s also a hardware company.
The campaign appears to be going well; with a week left to go, it’s raised almost $2 million.
This isn’t Andromium’s first attempt at combing the cell phone and the computer. In early 2015, they attempted to crowd-fund a dock that would, essentially, turn a smartphone into a desktop computer.
But that campaign, which required users to have their own peripherals, failed to reach its funding goal.
They say that was a learning experience and that with the new campaign, they’re putting the feedback that they received into practice.
The founders of Andromium also have pretty impressive resumes, CEO Gordon Zheng is a former Google engineer, while Andrew Jiang, its COO, previously founded a Y Combinator-backed non-profit.