My conclusion, in some cases maybe… read on!
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You may be aware that my computer died recently… and my development system is a bit underwhelming and I recently upgraded my phone to a new Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge and ended up reducing my monthly phone bill so win/win and I have started looking at how it can alter and improve my current workflow.
Mainly the primary drawback to using a touch interface device (in this case an Android phone) to work from has been that while they excel at consuming information e.g. playing games, reading news, clicking and scrolling on apps… and since this is a phone we can add making phone calls to the list, they are not very good with rapid input and manipulation of information and generally lack ‘precision’. Precision can largely be solved by using a quality fine tipped stylus (like this), or with the use of a bluetooth mouse (like this) if you need the highest level of precision. You can even add a keyboard (like this) or on the cheaper (but functional) end of the spectrum (like this).
Additionally, screen space is at a premium on touch devices and it’s been difficult to create intuitive and comfortable UI’s which helped lead to the stripped down and simplified appearance of UI’s we see today, a sad trend in my opinion because processing power is at an all time high, but i digress… google Skeuomorphism web design for a bunch of articles from 2013 about how “flat UI is here to stay”…well… with that striped down appearance has come less complexity, sometimes that means easier to use and sometimes that just means less useful. 😉
Predominantly programmers don’t need complex interfaces to operate and are mainly reading & writing code so… if you allow for decent enough input devices and sufficient on device tools a programmer could conceivably use an android phone or tablet to work!
Do the right tools exist?
While the offerings are still growing, I found a few gems and rather than cover each one in depth at this time, I will just briefly highlight a few that I hope you will really enjoy!
Python native on your phone
Code and run Python scripts (console & web apps) natively on your Android!
Using the S4AL (Scripting Layer for Android) you can even automate things like taking pictures, you can build GUI’s and get access to device sensor data, do text/string to speech etc…
Here is “Hello World” text to speech in python:
import sl4a droid = sl4a.Android(); droid.ttsSpeak('Hello World');
I am having such a fun time playing with this and finding ways to use it!… if you are into Cross Platform Development, Automation, Data Science and AI you NEED to give QPython a try! Want to make games? Add pygame. Want to do cross platform gui applications? Use kivy. The possibilities seem endless!
PHP native on your phone
A robust full featured Apache server this is not! But this is a PHP web server running natively on your android device… really let that sink in… you’re welcome!
But… what good would PHP be without a database? Well, now you can run databases natively on your phone (HOW AWESOME IS THIS?!!!!)
Yes you can install PHPMyAdmin 😉
Now, a tablet would probably be better than a phone just due to screen space and potentially better specs but this latest crop of phones are more than capable of running these development apps and I expect to see full stack and fully integrated AAMP/ANME (Android, Apache/Node, MySQL/Mongo, PHP/Python, Express (or other) ) servers in the not to distant future and the hardware to run them too!
But, there’s more!!! Want a traditional “start” menu? It’s safe to assume that SOMEBODY would want that, and why not if you are using a keyboard and mouse?
Well, your prayers are answered in the app called Andromium OS
Are these apps everything you’d need to ditch the PC? Maybe, maybe not but I feel confident in saying the overwhelming trend seems to be that given time you will be able to have a single powerful touch device you use as a phone while on the go and as a powerful workstation via use of a docking station or wireless peripheral connectivity, to add a larger screen and additional input devices when sitting down to get work done.