While the number of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices that the average consumer owns is expected to rise over the next several years, it remains a rather frustrating and tedious task to pick up a task on one device where you left off on another. Apple has attempted to solve this problem with Handoff for iPhone, iPad and Mac, but Google has yet to deliver the same functionality on Android.
Nextbit, a company comprised of former talent from large tech companies including Apple, Amazon, Google, HTC and Dropbox, has proven ready to tackle the challenge with a new product called Baton. The system-level service enables Android users to backup and sync apps and app data across multiple devices which, for example, allows someone to play a game on a tablet and continue at the same spot on a smartphone later.
Baton, demonstrated at the Code/Mobile conference in California, has an underlying goal of providing Android users with a consistent and fluid experience across multiple devices. As the service is integrated at the system level, there will be no need for developers to update their apps to support Baton. Android users can save the exact state of any app and app data and resume on another device with minimal effort required.
Per the Nextbit Blog:
“Whether I’m reading an article, playing a game, or buying something online, everything comes to a halt if I want to switch devices,” said Tom Moss, Nextbit CEO. “Until now, there hasn’t been a good way to pick up a tablet at the same place you left off on your smartphone. Our mobile activities shouldn’t just be available on a per device basis. That’s why Nextbit is building a future that focuses on the experiences, not the device.”
Before you get too excited about Baton, keep in mind that there is one rather big caveat: the service only works on devices or custom Android builds that are designed to support the software. Nextbit has reached its first partnership with CyanogenMod, a popular open source version of the Android operating system, and its Baton service is now available as a public beta through that custom platform.
Fortunately, the process of installing CyanogenMod on an Android device is simpler than ever and the custom build supports several popular smartphones and tablets: Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z, OnePlus One, HTC One and more. CyanogenMod 11 M11 is the latest version of the custom ROM based on Android 4.4.4 KitKat.
“Cyanogen continues to reimagine Android by introducing bold new firsts,” said Kirt McMaster, CEO of Cyanogen. “Nextbit represents one of these platform firsts that could only manifest on a truly open Android. We enable Baton to become a native OS level feature, creating huge benefit for our users.”
Nextbit outlined three major benefits of Baton as follows:
- Sync: Keeps apps and data in sync across multiple devices, allowing users to move fluidly from one device to the next without missing a beat.
- Pass: Send any open app in its current state to another device, saving time and eliminating the tedious process of manually finding and opening apps on different devices.
- Backup and restore: Save apps and data to your Nextbit profile in the cloud, so you can always get your apps back on any device.
Baton is available on the latest private build of CyanogenMod and will be included on a publicly distributed version of the custom operating system in the future. Nextbit invites those who lives in the United States to sign up for the beta through its website.