DeX like mode coming to Pixel? Google finally enables display output

 

  • Unless you purchase a special DisplayLink peripheral, no Google Pixel phones support display output over USB-C.
  • When Google launched the Pixel 8 series, we discovered that the phones actually support display output over USB-C at the hardware level.
  • With the release of the latest Android beta, Google has finally enabled display output over USB-C on the Pixel 8 series.

If you ask any power user what features they love in their Samsung phone, the Samsung DeX probably tops the list. DeX lets you turn your Galaxy phone into a portable desktop environment when connected to an external monitor or TV. Sadly, Google’s Android version doesn’t offer a DeX equivalent at the moment. Furthermore, Google has chosen to abandon display output support Completely on its Pixel lineup, so unless you buy a special peripheral, you can’t even mirror your Pixel phone’s display to an external screen. However, this is finally changing with the Google Pixel 8 in the latest Android beta.

When you connect any Pixel phone – from the first model to the latest Pixel 8 Pro model – to an external monitor or TV using a USB-C to USB-C cable or USB-C to HDMI adapter, there are currently some Doesn’t even happen. That’s because Google has chosen not to enable a feature called DisplayPort Alternate Mode on its Pixel lineup. DisplayPort Alternate Mode lets devices broadcast DisplayPort signals over their existing USB-C connector pins, which is useful for mobile devices that don’t have enough space to add a dedicated port for HDMI or DisplayPort.

Unfortunately, Google disabled DisplayPort Alternate Mode hardware level On all their Pixel phones before the Pixel 8 series. It’s not clear exactly why Google disabled this feature at the factory, although some have speculated that it’s to push users toward Google’s proprietary, Wireless Cast protocol for screen mirroring. I believe the main reason is that the Pixel currently lacks a native, DeX-like desktop mode.

Android has actually offered a built-in desktop mode since Android 10, but it’s currently incredibly useless and only for developers’ use. Google has been continuously working to improve Android’s built-in desktop mode since late 2022, with the ultimate goal of eventually bringing the feature to users, probably with the upcoming Android 15 release.

Android 14 Beta 3 Window Captions

Mishal Rahman/Android Authority

As part of improvements to Android’s desktop mode, Google is working to improve how the OS handles freeform windows.

Since Google requires physical hardware to test its desktop mode changes, the company has quietly enabled DisplayPort Alternate Mode at the hardware level on the Pixel 8 series. However, as I mentioned earlier, nothing happens when you actually connect the Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro to an external monitor. This is because DisplayPort Alternate Mode is disabled in the phone’s software, which requires root access to enable.

However, with the recent release of Android 14 QPR3 beta 2, Google reversed course and enabled DisplayPort Alternate Mode by default in the Pixel 8’s software. As a result, when you connect your Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro to an external screen using a compatible USB-C to USB-C or USB-C to HDMI adapter, you’ll now get the option to “Mirror Display.” ” as shown below.

Pixel 8 Pro Mirror to External Display

Mishal Rahman/Android Authority

By default, tapping “Mirror Display” will mirror your phone’s screen to an external display. If you enable “Force Desktop Mode” in Android’s developer options, your phone will show Android’s built-in desktop mode, which, as I said earlier, is largely empty. Android’s modified desktop mode experience is currently locked behind several flags, so it won’t be available to users even if the “Force Desktop Mode” option is enabled.

It’s possible that Google will launch Android’s new desktop mode experience in Android 15 with the upcoming Pixel 9 series, but we don’t know for sure. We also don’t know if Google intends to enable DisplayPort alternate mode in the QPR3 beta 2 release for the Pixel 8; It’s possible that this was a mistake and will be reverted in the next beta or stable release in June. Either way, we’ll keep an eye on this feature to see what happens.

It’s also worth noting that although older Pixel phones may never be upgraded to support DisplayPort Alternate Mode, it’s still possible to mirror their display to an external screen. Special DisplayLink adapters can be attached to Pixel phones to enable display output. These require the installation of an app on the phone that records the screen, compresses it, and sends the data to the DisplayLink adapter as if it were a standard USB peripheral. The DisplayLink adapter then converts the data into a video that HDMI-enabled devices can read.

Special thanks to X user Jordan Long for the tip!

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