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Motorola LapDock spotted running ICS on video, Ubuntu fans unimpressed

Could this be a glimpse into the future of mobile computing?
April 5, 2012

For a brief moment in time, Motorola was a force to be reckoned with, thanks to its Droid lineup. The company may not be in as good of a standing as it once was, but Motorola has introduced its fair share of memorable phones and accessories over the years, along with the duds and utterly forgettable ones. One particular device that got the public’s attention was the LapDock accessory, a notebook shell designed to harness the full power of your smartphone and offer a desktop-like computing experience.

Since the LapDock doesn’t come with its own processor, memory, or internal storage, it can only be used in tandem with a compatible Motorola smartphone. Once the phone is docked, users are presented with the Ubuntu-based Webtop platform, which they can use to run various applications and access the web. Motorola even bundles the platform with the desktop version of the Firefox 3.6 browser.

MobileView is another interesting feature of the Webtop, essentially a floating window that displays the phone’s Android interface right on the Webtop’s screen. Users can interact with the on-screen “device” as they would normally interact with the phone, for example, by launching apps or browsing the web. The simulation window is resizable too, so you can enjoy your Android fix on a large screen.

Things aren’t as peachy as they seem, however, as Motorola is apparently taking the WebTop to a new direction. Two videos of the LapDock supposedly running WebTop 3.0 Beta have been spotted on YouTube. From what we can see, the Ubuntu-like interface of the past has been replaced with what appears to be a build of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Getting the plain vanilla Android 4.0 experience on a laptop screen, instead of the promised desktop-like environment, is not necessarily a bad thing. The points Motorola is losing by ditching the Ubuntu-based UI, it stands to gain in other aspects. There will be more apps supported by the device, since it’s basically a tablet mode ICS. The WebTop also appears to run smoother and faster than the Ubuntu variant.

Whatever it is that Motorola is planning for the Webtop, we have a hunch that this is Google’s way of rearranging the furniture now that it owns the house. What do you think?