A new startup, Nextbit, which is founded by Google veterans Tom Moss and Mike Chan and funded by Accel Partners and Google Ventures, has unveiled its first product: Baton, a service that allows the hand-off of apps between Android devices.
Baton works through deep integration of the cloud into the operating system. So, for example, Android users can download a game, play the first level, and hand it off to a nearby device and continue playing the following level. Or whatever action you can think off that is tied to the cloud – listening to a song, watching a movie or editing a file.
Apple is the one to credit for popularizing the handover concept with its “Continuity” set of features in iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite. Nextbit has unveiled Baton at the Recode Code/Mobile conference on Monday, and here’s what Mike Chan says about it:
With Baton, we want to focus on breaking down the barriers between devices. We’ve all run into this problem of transitioning between devices. It’s clunky and not intuitive.
At the moment, the service will work with only a few devices, because Nextbit has to work with handset manufacturers to embed its system directly into the operating system because it can’t be included via an app. Baton will open as a beta to devices running on CyanogenMod, so this is another reason to get the OnePlus One, I guess. Here’s what Tom Moss added, as well:
“Whether I’m reading an article, playing a game, or buying something online, everything comes to a halt if I want to switch devices. 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.”
Baton will also enable full cloud back-ups, allowing users to recover all of their settings and an upcoming feature could even expand the storage on the smartphone through the cloud. Baton is free during the beta trial but once it becomes more popular, a “freemium” model could be applied.
As it stands right now, the biggest drawback is that the service only works on devices or custom Android builds that are designed to support the software. However, if you’re willing to try the service, installing CyanogenMod on an Android device isn’t as difficult as it sounds as the custom build supports several popular smartphones and tablets.
Baton is currently available on the latest private build of CyanogenMod and will be included on a publicly distributed version of the custom operating system in the near future. If it got your attention, go ahead and sign up.