|Samsung Electronics IT & Mobile Communications President Koh Dong-jin gives a keynote speech during the Samsung Developer Conference 2018 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Wednesday (local time). Courtesy of Samsung Electronics|
By Nam Hyun-woo
SAN FRANCISCO -- Samsung Electronics showcased a strong visual hint for its foldable smartphone Wednesday (local time), revealing its Infinity Flex Display and user interface (UI) One UI for the first time at a conference for developers.
The tech giant kicked off its annual Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to disclose its views on the technology of the near future and invite more developers into its ecosystem.
"The foldable display lays the foundation for a new kind of mobile experience," Samsung Electronics IT & Mobile Communications President Koh Dong-jin said during a keynote speech. "We are excited to work with developers on this new platform to create new value for our customers. We cannot wait to see where the technology and collaboration takes us."
During the first part of the two-day event, Samsung revealed upgrades to its voice-controlled artificial intelligence (AI) platform Bixby, expansions of its internet of things (IoT) platform SmartThings and One UI.
The introduction of the new UI at its developer conference before fully revealing its foldable smartphone is interpreted as Samsung Electronics' efforts to put more emphasis on optimizing services and content before introducing new hardware.
The new UI keeps most relevant content on the bottom half of the screen, to improve multitasking and comfort in one-handed operation.
Also, it minimized other aspects that hamper users' focus on the screen with more succinct icons and screen placement. The company said the new display improved readability and accessibility, as well as providing a more intuitive experience.
While introducing One UI, Samsung Electronics America Senior Vice President Justin Denison also showed the Infinity Flex Display, a possible component for the upcoming foldable smartphone.
Sized to fit into a jacket's inside pocket when folded, the flexible display is focused on multitasking, as it can show applications of internet browsing, multimedia and messaging simultaneously on the same screen when unfolded. Also, applications used on the folded screen get bigger when it is unfolded and the user can use it seamlessly.
Denison stressed the company has developed a new material that will replace cover window glass and adhesive that can withstand folding tens of thousands of times, as well as making a significant cut to the thickness of its AMOLED.
To maximize user experience and the foldable smartphone's potential, Samsung Electronics said it is working with Google and its Android platform, with plans to offer emulators and other test tools to developers so they can produce foldable applications.
The company will launch One UI in January, after beta testing it on Galaxy S9, S9+ and Note 9 smartphones in Korea and the U.S. starting this month.
Also drawing attention from developers was the Bixby Developer Studio tool, which includes a software development kit and integrated development environment, to allow third-party developers to make Bixby Capsule, which refers to a set of skills and actions the AI can learn and practice.
Also, Samsung Electronics said British English, French, German, Italian and Spanish will be included in Bixby's ecosystem in a few weeks. Currently, Bixby is capable of using Korean, American English and Chinese.
For SmartThings, the IoT platform the company designed, the company introduced a set of new developer tools so more developers can connect their devices and services to the SmartThings platform.
"We have achieved significant advancements in AI and IoT, which will be crucial to bringing our connected living vision to life," Koh said. "The progress made with Bixby and SmartThings opens a new chapter where third-party products and services can be integrated into the AI and IoT platforms at scale."