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This launcher lets you use Android 10's desktop mode (kind of)
Remember the hidden Desktop Mode that was going to make it to Android 10? We saw glimpses of it during the Android Q beta program, but the final Android 10 release only brought a barebones implementation of the feature. Back in May, a developer Daniel Blandford made a custom desktop launcher based on the built-in desktop mode to take advantage of the feature. Called Flow Desktop launcher, the app is now available on the Play Store as a preview test release (via XDA Developers).
Flow Desktop essentially enables a conventional desktop experience on a secondary display. Its interface resembles that of a traditional Windows desktop, with the ability to launch apps in freeform windows. The launcher has a start menu which houses the phone’s apps. You can even add apps to a taskbar at the bottom of the screen, change the resolution of the secondary display, and customize your user experience with things like color schemes.
Further, you can connect a keyboard and mouse to the secondary display to get the feel of using your Android phone like a PC. However, due to current limitations in Android’s Desktop Mode, right clicks on the mouse are treated as long-presses.
How to use Android 10’s Desktop Mode with Flow Desktop
Setting up Flow Desktop is currently not as easy as you would imagine. After downloading the app, you will need to follow a setup process and install a secondary software on a Windows PC to get the Flow launcher up and running. The developer has described the process in the video below.
You will also need to enable Developer Options, Freeform Windows and Experimental Desktop Mode on your phone.
To do this, head to Settings > About phone > Build number. Tap Build number seven times. You will now have developer options enabled. Once you’ve done this, go to Settings > Developer Options > Apps. Here, you can turn on “enable freeform windows” and “force desktop mode.” Be warned that tinkering with developer options is not really advisable unless you know what you’re doing.
Daniel Blandford admits that the Flow Desktop experience is buggy right now and many features are still under development. Additionally, you will have to pay $5.99 for the app after a trial period of just one minute.
Currently, Flow Desktop only officially supports the OnePlus 7T Pro. The developer says you won’t be able to run it on the Essential Phone (which doesn’t support display settings adjustments) and Samsung phones with DeX pre-installed (where Flow needs several tweaks).
While Flow Desktop is currently pretty limited, by buying it you will support Daniel Blandford’s future work on the project. It remains to be seen when Google will start paying more attention to Desktop mode. It’s still in a very experimental state and needs a bunch of work to become a full-fledged feature on Android phones. Maybe Android 11 will ring some good news on this front.