To start at the most basic level, a Plan 9 system is a network of computers that are divided into three classes
I don’t know much about Plan 9, but it’s interesting how Plan 9 is a network of computers that are divided into file systems, CPU systems, and terminals. Immediately, I thought of the mapping to how most people use their phones today - their data is in the cloud (file system), their processing unit is on their device (CPU system), and they don’t really need a terminal, unless you want to consider the touch screen to be the terminal to the CPU system.
Also, because Plan 9 is designed to be run as a distributed system, how would this work for someone like me who wants everything in one machine?
You can use Plan 9 on a single node fairly easily; The file system can run locally, and the CPU and auth servers are optional.
If you want to try it, I’d start looking at 9front. The FQA is here: http://fqa.9front.org/
The android intent mechanism, and whatever iOS equivalent is called, seem to fill a similar role as filesystem servers. The “save” feature becomes “upload to Dropbox” etc.
For the record, I hate the fact that people are generally becoming more dependent on the cloud. Why? Take Apple Music as a prime example. You pay a subscription fee in order to use their music. But you also upload your own music to their servers, which in turn might be deleted from your own device. Then when you no longer want to pay for that service, you lose access to, not only Apple’s large collection of music, but the music that you provided them as well.
Also, what happens to the rights of your data when its hosted with other services in the cloud? You effectively give up your rights when you provide music to Apple. How does this affect other services like Dropbox? What rights do you give up there? What about Gmail? Google Drive? It’s all a bit scary to me. Maybe I’m just overly paranoid, but I really don’t like the fundamental idea behind the cloud - hosting your data, as long as you give up your rights to it.
I’d say that Android intents are far closer to the plan 9 plumber: http://man.9front.org/4/plumber
To quote the Plan 9 from Bell Labs paper
The early catch phrase was to build a UNIX out of a lot of little systems, not a system out of a lot of little UNIXes