Android doesn’t really have an AirPlay equivalent – its Miracast and Mirrorlink technologies are similar, but lack the kind of opportunity Apple’s tech provides to build second screen experiences that work independently of what’s being shown on the original. That’s why Solution57 created their Remote Application Framework (RAF for short), which goes even further, making displays attached to Android devices work more like displays attached to traditional desktop PCs.
Using RAF, Android devs can build experiences that run an app on a remotely connected display while also running separate software on the host device. The host device runs all the apps, and the receiving one displays its contents. UI is completely separate on both devices, which means that a user can play games while also running GPS on a second attached display. It’s a single system, with who separate displays, just like when you plug a monitor into your MacBook Pro.
It’s not exactly the same, though – the connected display still needs to be running some kind of OS itself, which is why RAF is being touted initially as a feature for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems. You can imagine how a GM or a Nissan could implement this kind of functionality easily, no matter whether they’re using an IVI based on QNX or any other non-Android software, allowing users to either opt for their own in-built tools, or have an experience where their Android phone can take over entirely, just like Apple is proposing with its iOS in the Car feature introduced with iOS 7.
It doesn’t require any special changes to Android or the individual apps themselves to work, but Solution57 Director Rafal Malewski tells me in an interview that it would help greatly with adoption if RAF became part of the Mirrorlink official specifications.
“For automotive integration between mobile and IVI, to get proper penetration, we need this to get adopted as an extension to the Mirrorlink spec,” he explained. “We have initiated contact to the Car Connectivity Consortium to see if they are interested in picking up the technology.”
Meanwhile, Solution57 is already in talks to a couple of OEMs for non-IVI use of the remote tech. It’s in use in consumer-facing VNC clients that work on Android, iOS, QNX, Windows and Linux, and there are all kinds of potential applications Malewski sees as possible, including for secondary displays on wearable tech, or on smart controllers for Android-based gaming consoles and smart TVs.
Ultimately, Solution57 wants to see this adopted as a built-in technology by Google, which they’d likely hope would happen via an acquisition of the Danish firm. Currently, it’s available for OEM licensing, and the first devices with RAF integrated should start shipping around the middle of next year is all goes as planned, per Malewski.