Up close with CastAway, the Chrome OS add-on for your phone
We’ve been talking for ages now about the intersection of Chrome OS and Android and the endless ways Google’s two primary platforms work together.
For all of the overlap, though, Chrome OS and Android have never actually coexisted within the framework of a single device — living side by side on a multipart system, in other words, and acting as complementary halves of a unified experience. But if one ambitious inventor gets his way, that may be about to change.
The guy’s name is Ken Mages, and he’s come up with a product known as the CastAway. It’s described as a “second screen for your smartphone” — one that runs Chrome-OS-like software and puts “the world’s smallest Chromebook” right alongside your phone.
The CastAway popped up on Indiegogo last week and has been getting a fair amount of attention ever since, with around 800 people backing the project for a total of nearly $140,000 in funding as of this moment. (The project’s original goal was a much more modest $50,000.)
The concept was immediately intriguing to me, as you can imagine, but I had lots of questions — questions about how this whole thing would actually work, if and how it’d actually be useful, and, critically, if and when we’d actually see it in production.
So rather than simply speculate, I decided to sit down with its creator to get some answers. Android Intelligence Platinum members can listen to our conversation as a special bonus episode of my weekly podcast. Here, meanwhile, are 10 interesting things I learned from our chat.
1. At its core, the CastAway is actually just a tiny tablet that runs Chromium.
It’s easiest to talk about this product as using Chrome OS and being like a Chromebook, but technically, what it actually uses is Chromium — the open-source version of Chrome OS that’s developed by Google and freely available for anyone to grab. You can think of it kind of like Chrome OS without Google’s proprietary layer of apps and services. It’s the cake, in a sense, without the icing. And that has some significant implications, which we’ll talk more about…