SAN FRANCISCO — Samsung rolled out updated APIs for its smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs at a developer conference here that attracted 1,300 registrants. The event showed that Samsung is moving at web speed to spawn an ecosystem around a broad but somewhat fragmented set of software platforms that compete with offerings from both Apple and Google.
Among the highlights, Samsung announced:
- An SDK designed to make it easier to link multiple devices
- Deeper support for pen input and controls
- Updates to its silicon-to-apps Knox security software
- Enhancements to its smart TV UI
- A new mobile Twitter app for its Android tablets
The Korean company hopes to leverage the fact that it shipped 53 million TVs and 250 million client systems in the past year, including PCs, smartphones, and tablets. Most of its SDKs support features across Android and iOS.
"Once these devices are connected, we hope to build one of the largest platforms in the world to deliver apps, services, and ads," David Eun, head of Samsung's Open Innovation Center (which incubates startups) told a standing-room-only crowd of more than 600 attendees. "It doesn't happen overnight. It comes in fits and phases."
The updated mobile SDK includes pen recognition and control features. A new Chord feature lets users connect devices with a pinch gesture, which was used in a demo to create a game of air hockey between two tablets. A services SDK includes a new chat app that supports video, as well as updates of wallet and ad-placement apps.
A mobile game controller (shown below) that docks to a smartphone via Bluetooth or a hardware interface got the strongest reaction from crowd. However, Samsung was not clear whether the device was a product or a concept.
In-Jong Rhee, a senior vice president of business R&D, gave an update on Knox, Samsung's mobile security software. It spans a custom TrustZone environment for secure boot to apps-layer features such as support for dual-factor authentication and VPNs. Knox, a former North Carolina State professor who started the Knox group three years ago, said it will support fingerprint and other sensors in the future. "This is not rocket science, but it is darned good computer science."
Samsung also updated its smart TV SDK. It is based on a refreshed UI that supports separate screens for linear, broadcast, and personal content, as well as separate pages for TV aps and a social networking screen for apps such as videoconferencing. A Samsung executive said that 72 percent of US users have activated online features on its smart TVs and BluRay, and that they access online features 40 times a week.
The audience loved a mobile game controller, but Samsung did not say if it is a product or a concept.
See images of Knox security and Samsung smart TVs on the following pages.