Google Pixel 8 could double as your desktop PC — here’s how

Pixel 8 renders
(Image credit: OnLeaks + MySmartPrice)

It looks like Google is going to be taking a leaf out of Samsung’s book with its upcoming Pixel 8 handsets. 

Writing for Android Authority, the reliable leaker Kamila Wojciechowska reveals an interesting detail about the upcoming handsets via a “source inside Google”. Both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will apparently support DisplayPort alternate mode via its USB-C charging port, she claims.

DisplayPort alternate mode is, as Wojciechowska explains, less flexible than ThunderBolt, but shares one characteristic: It allows devices to output high-resolution video to an external display without the need for an HDMI or other dedicated display port.

Wojciechowska’s source doesn’t have any “specific information” as to what Google plans to do with this, but beyond simple (and not terribly useful) screen mirroring, there’s one very exciting possibility: desktop mode. Attach a monitor, keyboard and mouse and your Pixel 8 might moonlight as a laptop for light office work.

It’s not exactly a new idea, of course. Motorola was experimenting with the concept on the ATRIX back in 2011, and Microsoft’s last roll of the dice with Windows phones came with a pretty good feature called Continuum in 2015.

But the most successful implementation to date has been Samsung with its Desktop Experience — or DeX for short.

samsung dex keyboard

(Image credit: Samsung)

Initially, DeX required a separate accessory to work with the Galaxy S8, but now devices from the Galaxy S23 to the Galaxy Tab S8 can just be plugged into a monitor to access a desktop-like experience, complete with keyboard and mouse support. It can also now run wirelessly on screens that support Miracast.

There’s some evidence to suggest that Google is working on a wider desktop experience for Android. Back in February, journalist Mishaal Rahman spotted that the Android 14 beta can detect when it’s connected to a USB-C cable that supports DisplayPort alternate mode. 

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At the time, he stated that a Pixel with video output via USB-C might be “wishful thinking” on his part, but it seems a whole lot more likely now. Even if the current implementation of Android desktop mode is extremely “barebones,” as he writes in an explainer for our sister site, Android Central

Google uses its Pixel devices as showcases for what Android can do, so it would make sense for a more fleshed-out version to make its debut on a Pixel if it’s indeed seriously in the works. 

If it really is set for the Pixel 8, then we shouldn’t have too long to wait to see it in action, with a release expected this fall.

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Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.

  • rvermausa
    Can't wait. I was going to switch to Samsung if Pixel 8 does not have this feature; right now I pixel 7 pro.