Samsung is trying to remake its image nowadays, with the company working hard to revolutionize its software as it's always been keen to revolutionize its hardware. At SDC 2016, the company said that software is "the soul of the Machine":
"We believe the software is the soul of the machine. Software is central to creating a truly meaningful device experience,” said Samsung Electronics Mobile Communications EVP & R&D, Software, and Services Head Injong Rhee.
For Samsung, the key to encouraging greater use and adoption of its hardware is to make its software services more relevant to consumers. To this end, Samsung has several software fronts on which to push forward to the future of tech: 1) Samsung Knox, 2) Samsung Pay, 3) Samsung Connect Auto, 4) Samsung Health, 5) Soundcamp, 6) Samsung Gaming, and 7) Samsung VR.
Samsung Pay is the Korean giant's mobile payment system that utilizes magnetic secure transmission or MST, a technology that is already at play in traditional credit card-reading machines at most small and large businesses. The genius behind Samsung Pay is that old businesses can encourage customers to use Samsung Pay without being required to update their current credit card technology or be forced to spend new funds on NFC machines (which are required for Apple Pay and Android Pay).
Samsung Knox is Samsung's approach to security, as Knox is the foundation for a number of Samsung services such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, and Samsung Connect Auto. When dealing with mobile payments (Samsung Pay), health data (Samsung Health), and the car (Samsung Connect Auto), security and the protection of user data is paramount.
Samsung has already brought its Knox security to its Android-powered Galaxy handsets, but the Korean giant will now bring Knox to its Tizen-powered devices.
Samsung Connect Auto
Samsung Connect Auto is the company's project that is designed to bring automation to the car and transportation. Samsung is already trying projects to keep users connected to the road and their devices while keeping them safe (hence, Samsung's own Safety Windshield and Samsung's Safety Truck), so Connect Auto, a project involving a dashboard device, will carry this out in ordinary consumer vehicles.
Samsung is opening up an API and SDK to developers for Connect Auto, with a beta program launching this quarter and a public beta program later on this Summer.
Samsung Health is another example of Samsung's commitment to software. The company's health app has been around since 2012, with more than 150 million users and 130 countries participating. Samsung isn't done with its health software, though: the Korean giant looks to bring more relevant services such as remote health monitoring and chronic disease management to Samsung Health by working with hospitals and medical clinics so that users can get the medical treatment they need when they need it most.
Soundcamp is Samsung's own music software that has been used to help musicians and artists sing and even write songs. Samsung is now allowing audio developers to incorporate the software into their own audio apps as well as bringing compatibility to Android devices by way of Soundcamp's SDK and the company's cooperation with Google's Android audio team.
With the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, Samsung made gaming a priority for its devices for the first time by introducing the Vulkan API for its gaming experience that has drastically taken gaming graphics to a whole new level. Samsung also introduced a game launcher that allows you to shut off notifications while in game play and game tools to get gamers started.
The game launcher also lets you bundle all your games together so that they're easy to find when you get ready to choose your desired game. The Korean giant decided to throw in some gaming currency to encourage S7 and S7 edge owners to make use of Samsung's new gaming experience.
To add to the excitement, Samsung has created a Galaxy Game Dev Program to allow developers to use Samsung's new gaming platform and Vulkan API as they see fit so that its Galaxy devices can have the best gaming experience all around, even from those working with Samsung to put the Galaxy at the top of the market in mobile gaming.
Samsung has placed its bets firmly in the area of virtual reality, with its Gear VR Innovators' Edition with the Galaxy Note 4 that was for developers, and has now launched its Gear VR for the masses with the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5. Now with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, Samsung has given buyers a free Gear VR headset and six free games at the Oculus Store to encourage VR adoption.
The company is now pushing forward with plans for an untethered VR headset to further entrench its stance in the VR market. By providing a gaming platform through its partnership with Facebook-owned VR company Oculus Rift, Samsung is further hooking its users into its own platform and devices. In addition to Gear VR, Samsung has also introduced Gear 360, a 360-degree camera that lets you take photography to an entirely new dimension. Samsung's Milk VR does this, along the same lines -- but it lets you experience VR without Samsung's headset. Now, anyone can turn their phone in different directions and experience what VR is like. No one can claim they lack access to virtual reality nowadays. Samsung created a samsungmilkvr.com website for those who desire to know more.
New features have been added to Milk VR to better support developers. The Milk VR upload SDK, for example, allows makers of 360 cameras and 360 video editing tools to directly upload to Milk VR, regardless of the manufacturers. Also, with new tools on samsungmilkvr.com, developers can add interactive hotspots, hyperlinks between two 360 videos, to VR videos.
Samsung doesn't intend to leave consumers out, and the Korean giant is looking to bring a live streaming SDK to Gear VR in the next few months to help Gear VR users live stream events in Gear VR.
SDC 2016 will feature presentations from tech leaders and will offer a number of sessions in which developers can exchange ideas, partake in new experiences and explore potential innovations. Through the conference, Samsung aims to transform the future by combining its hardware, software and services with developers’ ideas.
The soul of the machine, the soul of the smartphone, smartwatch, and tablet is software, and Samsung wants us to live in a connected world where everything and everyone is connected to everything and everyone else. The company's SmartThings acquisition and home automation plans are to connect all devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) where devices across multiple platforms can "talk to each other."
Though Samsung is consumed with creating the best experience for its own devices, the company has also made its Gear S2 smartwatch compatible with Android smartphones, with whispers that the smartwatch will even gain iOS compatibility this year. SmartThings had iOS compatibility before the Samsung acquisition, and Samsung has said that it doesn't intend to dismiss iOS but instead will remain open-sourced with its home automation platform.
All of this shows Samsung's commitment to software as the new direction for the company. Software and services, coupled with the company's hardware-manufacturing prowess, should make life even harder for the company's most formidable rivals.