The Samsung S8 had “completely leaked” before the official launch. We knew almost everything about it before launch. But I remember getting so happy and even clapping at the announcement of DeX. It was like a confirmation, for me, of all the leaks. Also, it was like a coming to life, a birth of sorts.
Before going on so much let me explain DeX:
With the Samsung Galaxy S8, you can buy an extra accessory called DeX. You connect the DeX to a desktop, mouse, and keyboard, and a desktop-like interface will appear on the desktop, basically making your smartphone a computer. The desktop interface has been well customised to mimick a desktop environment and Samsung has partnered with other companies to make certain apps run smoothly.
You will argue that DeX isn’t the first attempt at using docks to make your smartphone a computer. Yes Microsoft have tried this before. When they announced Continuum, I wanted to write this very titled article. Only now replacing ‘Samsung DeX’ with ‘Continnum’. But Windows Phone is currently technically dead. And again, who’s using Continuum?
In 2011, when Motorola launched the Motorola Atrix smartphone that came with a dock to connect to a display, keyboard and mouse, the idea seemed funny, and looking back it was way ahead of its time. Especially now seeing how far Android as an OS has come.
The Tablet-Laptop Conundrum:
Of late we’ve seen the line get blurry between Tablets and Laptops. People are buying tablets with detachable keyboards to increase their flexibility and efficiency in productivity.
Microsoft fueled the trend with their Surface line of computers. Though basically tablets, in terms of size, they offered more power than ordinary laptops and one could do so much more on them. Apple then launched the iPad PRO lineup with a detachable keyboard and Pencil and everything went haywire from then on with cheap tablet-laptop hybrids everywhere.
We saw the rise of customisations of Android – including Remix OS that gives Android the desktop look and feel – in a bid to make Android more productive and useful in desktop environments.
The tablet-laptop confusion is enough proof that the time is nigh and that things are about to get even more blurrier with the ability to make your smartphone work in a desktop environment.
So when I say the announcement of DeX was a coming to life of sorts, I mean that Samsung is revealing to many of us, finally, that it is about time we change our perception of Smartphones. Why? Well, simple:
- Smartphones are now way more powerful than ever
- Operating Systems have grown incredibly
Power of Smartphones:
The first smartphone I owned was the Samsung Pocket; $100 and had 512MB RAM and 4GB storage. This was 2012. It was the hit smartphone then. And it was also what I convinced myself to be my computer. My argument was that I could read books, edit and create documents on it. I could browse the web and read emails.
The phone was slow, the display too small, the battery life annoying, yet my argument was valid. But it is 2017, and for even less than $100, I can get way more power than I did in 2012. Way more power than my 2013 ACER laptop gave me.
Smartphones have become so powerful, it is amazing. Devices can now slice through heavy apps, multitask, shoot or stream Full HD or even 4K content, handle virtual reality and augmented reality applications like a boss. There are so many things smartphones do nowadays that were originally reserved for the PC.
One can even easily argue that smartphone hardware is becoming more powerful than laptop hardware! But all this power is concentrated on a small screen on your hand, yet it could do so much more.
Growth of Operating Systems:
I was looking at the Samsung Pocket from 2012 running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and comparing it to Android 7 Nougat. It feels like a million kilometers’ difference. Okay that’s not the best description, but you get the idea.
Android has grown. It is different. It is smoother, more beautiful, more intuitive and can do so much more than it did years back. Though already the most used Operating System worldwide, Android is still growing and, I want to believe, is headed to be the ONE OS for ALL in future. Meaning it will be the one OS you run on all your devices from your computer, to your car, to your refrigerator etc.
The recent development that allowed Chrome OS to run Android Apps, and the revelation of the confusing new Operating System from Google shows you that we are headed to better, exciting days.
ONE for ALL
Here’s where DeX kind of gets it. And so did all the previous attempts.
With a Powerful OS and very Powerful Hardware, one doesn’t need much. All you need is Output and Input devices and your life is set. All the files and applications you need can be on your phone, or in the Cloud and your access to them will remain your phone.
Yes I can read and edit documents on the Galaxy S8, but the screen-size and the comfort of doing this on a big screen is lost. But with DeX, that is gained back without needing a new device or a new OS. The same applies to watching movies, editing video or many other tasks. The device is already powerful enough, so why not put all that power into good use?
Future of DeX
Yes DeX is the future. But is the future of DeX secure?
Samsung, by using the Android OS, relies a lot on Google’s to be who they are. I really doubt most would buy an S8 running Tizen or some other OS.
Google’s Android is constantly growing. There was a time multi-window was a preserve of high-end smartphones. Now it is on every device running Android Nougat. So are many other small things. In future, Google will bake this feature into Android, I am sure. And all you’ll need is a universal docking station that would work with every phone using USB type-C.
The Smartphone will not die, it will become ‘your everything’.