Google’s Pixel 8 series finally supports DisplayPort

The Pixel8.

Googling

Google’s June Android update is out and it brings a few notable changes to Pixel phones. Most interestingly, the Pixel 8a, Pixel 8, and Pixel 8 Pro all get DisplayPort Alt Mode capabilities via their USB-C ports. This means you can go from USB-C to DisplayPort and connect it directly to a TV or monitor. This has been rumored for ages and has made its way into some Android betas before, but now it’s finally making it into production.

The Pixel 8’s initial display support is just a mirrored mode. You can place an awkward vertical phone in the center of your widescreen display, or turn the phone sideways for a more reasonable layout. You might see it being useful for videos or presentations. It would be nice if it could do more.

In addition to the display port rumors this year, there was (once again) a steady drumbeat for an Android desktop mode. Google has been playing with this idea since Android 7.0 in 2016. In 2019, we were told it was just a development test project and never shipped to real devices. However, more and more work is being done on Android’s desktop mode, so perhaps a second spin on this idea will result in an actual product.

Android 15's developing desktop mode.

Android 15’s developing desktop mode.

Android Authority’s Mishaal Rahman has been tracking down the new desktop mode for a while and now has it active. The new desktop mode looks like a real desktop operating system. Each app gets a window decoration in the title bar with an app icon, a label, and maximize and close buttons. You can drag and resize windows; the operating system supports automatic window tiling by dragging to the side of the screen; and there’s even a little drop-down menu in the app icon in the title bar. If you enabled that with the bottom app bar of Tablet Android, you’d have a lot of what you need for a desktop OS.

Just like last time, we have no idea if this will become a real product. The largest Android partner, Samsung, certainly seems to find the idea worthwhile. Samsung’s “DeX” desktop mode has been a feature on its devices for years.

DisplayPort support is part of the June 2024 update and should roll out to devices soon.