Samsung, a name which, if you didn’t hear about then you don’t exist on this planet. A company which practically sells everything, holds their hands along every potential business in South Korea, but one affair for which its most famous for is their smartphones. Today Samsung is the worldwide leader in the smartphone industry. Samsung which once held a tough competition from last decade leader Nokia, was nowhere in the marketplace when it commenced to sell smartphones (or just a mobile telephone with tactile sensation on it). At the same time Google backed project was taking form, ‘Android’. Samsung ditched their OS for the Android and started using it as their primary OS. After that Samsung’s luck was drastically changed and the rest is history. With the strong demand in Android, strong support from the app developers combined with Samsung’s own R&D they started to make new industry standards with every release of their flagship devices. Even after adopting Android, Samsung’s is always been busy doing something different under the hood. All those things are omnipresent still invisible. Things which raise questions about the commitment of Samsung to Android. Let us discuss about when it all started right from the beginning when Samsung adopted Android to present and what may be the future of Samsung smartphones.
Galaxy Original to Galaxy S8
April 27, 2009 marked the new era for Samsung smartphones aka Samsung Galaxy. It’s the day Samsung launched their first ever Android device, ‘Samsung GT-I7500’. As for specifications it had Android Donut (1.6), 128 MB Ram, 8 GB internal storage, 32 GB expandable storage, 3.2 inch AMOLED display and 5 MP Rear camera with flash. You would probably not even going to use this device in your dreams, but it was something at the time it launched. Due to lack of firmware updates Samsung had received a lot of criticism for this. Fast forward it today, Samsung just launched Galaxy S8 and S8+. As for their specifications they have Android Nougat (7.0), 4 GB Ram, 64 GB internal storage, 256 GB expandable storage, 5.8 and 6.2 inch AMOLED display respectively, 12 MP rear camera and 8 MP front camera. This is definitely the specification you would love to use. Samsung is there in the market since 2009 but what is that thing which is ubiquitous but still invisible. We have seen hundreds of Samsung devices, but none of us ever thought of it or ever felt for something which is not supposed to be there. Everything is same, pattern is same, Android device, evolving screen quality, camera, processor performance, etc., but you never have even tried to see the difference. That conflict is the Samsung ecosystem.
Since the very beginning of Galaxy phones, Samsung has bundled their devices with their services and application or at least they have, which is in the direct competition of their Google counterpart. Some of these apps are preinstalled on Samsung’s devices while others can be downloaded. Which means Samsung never relied on Google’s application despite the knowledge that simply by using Google’s application can lead to salvaging a great deal of elbow grease. Google is the one who develops android as open source and other smartphone makers use it by customizing it as their business model. Smartphone makers around the globe, mostly preload all the Google apps only in their devices with a few of their custom made up (most camera applications). Samsung has never done that and always tried to install their apps rather than Google’s counterpart. Here is the app comparison for Samsung and Google ecosystem.
|Health||S Health||Google Fit|
|Music/Video||Samsung Music/Video||Play Music/Movie|
|UI||TouchWiz||Google Now Launcher|
|Browser||Samsung Browser/Samsung Internet||Chrome|
|Notes||Samsung Notes/S Note/S Memo||Keep|
|E Mail||Samsung Email||G Mail|
|Search Assistant||S Voice||Google Now|
|Virtual Assistant||Bixby||Google Assistant|
|Application Store||Galaxy Apps||Play Store|
|Calendar||S Planner||Google Calendar|
|Payment||Samsung Pay||Android Pay|
|Virtual Reality||Gear VR||Google’s Daydream|
For those who don’t know Samsung too have its own mobile OS ‘Tizen’. Many of you must have been hearing about ‘Tizen’ for the first time, it’s because it’s still under development. There are some Tizen based devices in the market. We’ll discuss about Tizen later. As the list defines there are Samsung app for everything and you need not to rely on the Google ecosystem for anything. The list is not yet completed and it continues. Samsung Connect Home powered by Bixby just as Google Home is powered by Google Assistant. Automatic multi frame shooting with the Galaxy S8’s camera is the same thing as the auto HDR mode on the Google Pixel. DeX desktop dock meets the dream of Google for gradually combining the Android and Chrome OS into a multi platform OS. Samsung is trying their hardest to stick user to their own ecosystem, but whatever they do their assistant can’t be as powerful as Google’s one.
Virtual Assistant Fight
The virtual assistant fight has been going on for a while. Cortana (Microsoft), Siri (Apple), Google Assistant (Google) and Alexa (Amazon) are among the most popular ones. Samsung always wanted to join that race and had ‘S Voice’, but that was never successful. Samsung took a big step towards this by acquiring ‘Viv’ few months ago. Developers of Viv are same who once developed Sir and with the launch of Galaxy S8 we now finally get a more competitive virtual assistant by Samsung, ‘Bixby’. Siri has been doing well and the fact that Siri and Viv are developed by same people gives reason to believe that Bixby will too perform well but may not be as good as Google’s one. Google Assistant is powered by all the data Google have on us. Google knows about everyone, knows everything. It’s the biggest reason behind the accuracy of Google Search and Google Assistant, which is what Samsung will always lack. Despite the fact of large knowledge of Google about us, Bixby still can out stand every other assistants if AI implemented to is capable enough. Right now no one knows what exactly Bixby is capable of and what would be its future. It’s even an announced product which is yet to be proven in the actual spirit.
As for Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ it’s not clear about whether it has Google assistant preinstalled or not. If yes, then user will get 2 virtual assistants at their service. If you say it’s still not complex enough, then you can download Microsoft Assistant (Cortana) and have 3 virtual assistants at your service or you could simply buy Samsung S8 and S8+ Microsoft Edition which has all the Microsoft apps preinstalled including Cortana.
It’s an open sourced operating system produced by Linux Foundation, Tizen Association, Samsung and Intel. It roots back to Samsung Linux Foundation and the LiMo Project and in 2013 Samsung merged their own homegrown OS Bada to Tizen. Tizen is taking shape since then. Samsung has organized Tizen application contest for bringing Bada developers to the new platform and which will lead to strong application store for Tizen. Out of the box Tizen doesn’t support Android app, but you can download ACL (Application Compatibility Layer) from Tizen app store and run a number Android app on Tizen smartphone. There are smartphones from Samsung as Tizen its OS (Samsung Z1, Samsung Z3) is available in the market. Not only the all Samsung smart watches (Samsung Gear) support only Tizen. Well, not from launch. The very first Samsung Gear was an Android based device but within 8-9 months of launch Samsung replaced its OS to Tizen through software update. Seriously! Who could have ever guessed that software update could entirely change their OS, who does that. After that Samsung has always used Tizen as their smart watch OS. After the smartwatch, Samsung had announced last year that it will now use Tizen on their Smart TVs too. These step gives a glimpse of Samsung preference for Tizen.
Future of Samsung Devices
As for near future nothing is going to change. Android will be their smartphones OS and Tizen as their Smart Watches, Smart TVs, Cameras, Smart Fridges OS, merely this can change as what we can say by Samsung steps. Samsung could have easily used Google Assistant as their virtual assistant or use Google stock app or VR platform or Payment platform or Samsung own app store or anything what we can say. Samsung has always preferred its own homegrown services and products. Not today, but from 4-5 years from now Tizen could become the primary OS for Samsung smartphones too, but there is lot roadblock towards that goal. Biggest of that is application support. It’s the biggest cause of death of many smartphone OS. They need to fill this gap buy making app for Tizen or by making ACL capable enough to support any Android app. Microsoft is still struggling to get developers for their ecosystem or Blackberry has now adopted Android as their primary OS. They too necessitate to make OS strong enough to resist a chance to fight against others. It’s still in development phase, still seems some novel OS, full of bugs and also got criticism from users. So Samsung still has a long way to go if they want to use Tizen us for all their smart devices, but their commitment and consistency towards Tizen may lead to one of the biggest Android device maker to ditch Android.