Samsung announced its next big smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, on Wednesday. As expected, both devices come with big displays, super thin bezels, and top-of-the-line specs. They look good.
Perhaps the most curious bit of news, though, isn’t about the phones so much as it is an accessory that supports them: the DeX.
Short for “desktop experience,” it’s a little dock that effectively turns the Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus into a desktop computer.
So if you wanted to finish a Word doc you started typing on the bus, for instance, you could pop the Galaxy S8 into the DeX, hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and continue on the bigger screen.
When everything is connected and the DeX is plugged into a monitor, the phone stretches out its Android skin to look like a Windows-esque PC platform. It seems pretty clean. The DeX itself has ports for USB-C, HDMI, Ethernet, and the older USB 2.0, and comes with a cooling fan to keep your phone from overheating. You can still connect to the web over LTE.
Samsung’s browser, email, calendar, and other apps have been reworked to fit the more spacious screen, but the company says it’s also getting Microsoft and Adobe to adapt their Office and Lightroom apps, respectively, to the nonmobile environment.
Samsung says the DeX dock will cost $150 and launch in “late April.” So it’s a bit pricey. Given that the Galaxy S8 isn’t cheap, either, Samsung is pitching the DeX as a neat, productivity-boosting extra for Galaxy diehards more than as a core aspect of the phone.
That’s probably for the best. Samsung is just the latest in a string of tech companies that have tried to sell phones that can also be PCs. Thus far, none of them has taken off.
Tech people call this “convergence,” or the idea that a single gadget – in this case, the smartphone – can swallow all other device types and become the One True Computer for whatever you need.
The thinking behind it makes sense: The smartphone is the most popular way people access the internet, and the technology behind it is only getting more powerful. Apple’s A-series of mobile chips are at the point where you can at least put them in the same conversation as an Intel desktop processor, and last year Microsoft showed how it can run its full Windows 10 operating system – albeit partially through emulation – on a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. The Galaxy S8 runs on the latest and fastest Snapdragon 835 chip.
Meanwhile, more and more people are comfortable turning to less-robust devices like tablets and Chromebooks to fill their computing needs. If the phone is good and strong enough, why buy two or three computers when you could have only one?
It’s an attractive pitch – which helps explain why Samsung is far from the first company to make something like it. Here’s a quick history lesson:
• In 2011, Motorola released the Atrix 4G, an Android phone you could plug into a Lapdock, a $500 laptop shell you could use to run the phone in a desktop environment. The phone was powerful at the time, but the Lapdock’s price and limited functionality kept it as more of a gimmick than a game-changer.
• Also in 2011, Asus introduced its PadFone line. This was a series of Android phones that could dock in the back of a tablet shell and power that sort of form factor. Asus released a few iterations of this, but it hasn’t launched a new model since 2014.
• The UK software maker Canonical has repeatedly tried, with little success, to position its Ubuntu OS as a platform that works across devices. In 2013, it raised millions on Indiegogo for an Ubuntu Edge phone that would run Ubuntu when plugged into a desktop, but the company couldn’t get the astronomical $32 million it asked for, and it scrapped the project. It later launched a tablet that tried something similar, but it never caught on. The company is now looking more at the internet of things.
• Microsoft has taken the biggest stab at this idea with its Continuum feature for Windows 10, designed to scale the OS down to phone sizes. If you plug a phone like HP’s Elite x3 into a dock, it’s meant to become a full Windows PC. There are still some features missing, though, and Windows phones have long lacked app-developer support. That has made Continuum a niche feature, at best, for Windows loyalists.
• Jide’s Remix OS has transformed Android into a desktop-friendly design, but it’s still at the mercy of Google’s software updates. It’s also more known among enthusiasts than anything else.
• Various crowdfunded projects have pitched the idea of a dock into which you could plug an Android phone and translate its software to a big screen. The Superbook, for instance, is a laptop “shell” that raised nearly $3 million on Kickstarter last year. Sentio, the company behind it, missed its original shipping date but on Wednesday said it planned to start shipping the device in June for $139.
There are others, too. While each of these projects has had its individual issues, the underlying problem in every case is that the software just wasn’t cooked enough to be a full PC.
The DeX will work with the most popular devices to take on this idea, but right now, it’s likely to have the same hang-up: Android isn’t quite there yet for bigger screens. You can run multiple apps at once, but if an app isn’t designed for the DeX, it’ll be displayed in a phone- or tablet-sized window that isn’t resizable. We’ve seen this issue before with Android apps running on Google’s Chromebooks.
Even then, a lot of Android apps that are ostensibly built for big screens – even Android’s Settings menu – resemble blown-up phone apps, with white space aplenty. It’s a similar problem as what Samsung just ran into with its Galaxy Tab S3 tablet: Google and Android developers just haven’t cared about this use case, so the experience has been sloppy. And Google seems to be favoring Chrome OS as its big-screen platform over Android.
Still, there are reasons to think things will get better. The latest Android update, Nougat, made several concessions to larger screens, such as allowing two apps to run side by side, and the upcoming Android O looks like it’ll take that further, with things like improved keyboard support. Google is making Android on large screens a focus.
But here, you’ll have to wait on Samsung to update its software to take advantage of whatever comes next. And while Samsung says it’s working to have the DeX support “many more” apps, the fact that the dock is made for a small subset of Galaxy phones is reason to doubt how many other developers will jump onboard.
The DeX does have one trick that could get around Android’s shortcomings. Samsung says it’s working with software companies like Citrix and VMWare to let you run a virtualized (i.e., streamed) version of Windows 10 off the phone. That would give you a more desktop-ready OS, but it’s a solution that hasn’t run smoothly on past Windows phones.
We’ll have to test the DeX further to see how well this all works – and how much the Galaxy S8 can handle – but it’s best to think of this as an add-on more than the next step for how smartphones collide with the PC. It’s something the iPhone cannot do. Still, it looks like Android would need to keep pressing forward for Samsung to accomplish what Microsoft and Motorola have failed to do.
- How the Google Pixel 2 XL compares to the Samsung Galaxy S8+ smartphone
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Release Date, Price and New Features Expected
- Get your Samsung Galaxy Note9 on Verizon and unlock unlimited creativity on the nation’s best network
- iPhone 2018 Release Date Leaks Just Days Before Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Hits Shelves
- Samsung releases new Galaxy S8 phones as it recovers from Note 7 crisis
- Samsung Galaxy J3 2017 may get the Android Oreo update in August
- Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review: One of the most well-rounded productivity tablets on the market
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will bring a longer battery life and Fortnite
- Samsung Galaxy S7 review: a sexy little smartphone
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9 price leak from Indonesia starting from ~RM3812
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is latest and greatest version: review
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9 may cost around Rs 84,550, 512GB storage confirmed
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9 price leak points to high cost once again
- Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphones vulnerable to hacking: researchers
- Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 Is Its Most Expensive Phone Yet
- Can Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 catch fire — in a good way?
- Help Dad stay cool on Father's Day with some flashy high-tech gifts
- Samsung CEO on Galaxy Note 9: These Batteries Won't Blow Up
- Google says augmented reality will be on 'hundreds of millions' of Android devices next year
- Baig's best tech picks of 2017 will eat at your wallet
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 resurrects a fantasy tech companies have had for years have 1503 words, post on www.businessinsider.sg at March 29, 2017. This is cached page on TechNews. If you want remove this page, please contact us.