Image of Samsung Galaxy Note8 from Unpacked event on August 23, 2017 in New York City Source: Maribel Lopez, Lopez Research
After the tumultuous Galaxy Note7 recall, all eyes are on Samsung as it launches its new flagship device the In keeping with previous Note versions, Samsung aims to make a phone that productivity-driven consumers and IT leaders will love. Yet, one has to ask if there is anything left to excite us in the smartphone market after the rapid pace of mobile innovation.
A majority of the differentiation in mobility has moved into software, primarily led by the operating system vendors. However, Samsung’s Note8 announcement shows that it still has a few hardware (and software) tricks up its sleeve (see the full specifications list below). Here are five reasons why people looking for a consumer-friendly phone that’s also a work powerhouse should consider evaluating the Galaxy Note8.
Improved camera. The camera continues to be a key buying feature for any smartphone.Samsung’s Galaxy Note8 sports two 12MP rear cameras with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) on both the wide-angle and
Image of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera resolution versus Apple iPhone & taken during the Unpacked event in New York City on August 23, 2017
telephoto lenses. The Note8’s Live Focus feature lets you control the depth of field by allowing you to adjust the bokeh effect in preview mode and even after you take the photo. The Dual cameras and OIS features help the photographer create sharper images. The dual cameras also enable something that Samsung calls Dual Capture mode where both rear cameras take two pictures simultaneously. One of the photos is a close-up image shot from the telephoto lens and one is a wide-angle shot that shows the entire background. Leading smartphone vendors are working on solutions to improve image quality in low light environments. In the case of Samsung, the wide-angle lens has a Dual Pixel sensor with rapid auto-focus to capture sharp and clear shots, even in low-light environments. The Note8 is also equipped with an 8MP Smart AutoFocus front-facing camera. In the camera demonstration, I could see the importance of stabilization and appreciated the ability to have both a wide angle and telephoto shot captured simultaneously. The demonstration of controlling how much background blur you’d like in a photo was also impressive. The quality of the camera will also become increasingly important to business buyers as more companies add image capture and scanning into their business workflows. Personally, I feel the camera advances are one of the most exciting parts of the device.
Bigger screen and the App Pair Feature. The Note8 has a squarer edge than the S8 plus and offers the largest screen on a Note device, with a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display. The design of the screen’s edge provides more room for apps that use the S Pen. The App Edge function on previous models was highly customizable, but Samsung has taken this software to the next level in Note8 with a new feature called App Pair. It allows you to create a custom pair of apps placed together in the Edge panel or the home screen. For example, a person could have their calendar and phone dialer paired so both apps could be opened together and placed side-by-side in a multitasking view. Another custom pair could have a YouTube paired with a messaging app. On the productivity front, this makes it easier for consumers to work or play without toggling through various apps. Obviously, a bigger screen and an easy way to have multiple windows open at once are important for making this a productive work device.
S Pen. Yes, I do believe the stylus makes a difference. At one point, the stylus seemed like a throwback to the
A Samsung S Pen image photograph from the Unpacked event in New York City on August 23, 2017
Palm Pilot days of old. Today we have a pen with Microsoft’s Surface, a pencil for Apple’s iPads and the S Pen for Samsung devices. In each iteration of stylus technology, we come one step closer to the feel and responsiveness of a pencil. Samsung’s latest S Pen implementation of a finer tip and improved pressure sensitivity is a major improvement over its previous generations. In a demonstration of the S Pen, Samsung illustrated how easy it is to sketch, use art apps, write down a grocery list and interact with the phone. At first glance, you wouldn’t think a stylus could change how you interact with a phone, but a stylus helps a large phone bridge that gap between a PC and a tablet by opening up different use cases. For example, the S Pen for Business allows a professional to discreetly take notes in Screen off or quickly annotate documents and photos. The screen off memo made a huge leap forward in replacing the notebook by expanding note taking to up to 100 screens of text by simply paging down as you write. The S Pen is a win for use cases such as clipboard replacement applications where employees need to take notes, fill out forms and capture signatures.
Built in security with biometrics, secure folder and Knox. Similar to its other devices, Samsung’s Note8 offers the choice of iris, face recognition and fingerprint scanning security in addition to a passcode. The company offers IT departments additional levels of security with Knox that can be used standalone or in conjunction with another Enterprise Mobile Management software partner. The secure folder, a feature that was on the Note7 and available as an app store download, has reappeared. The software provides a place to securely store and backup your personal data while separating it from your corporate information. Knox Workspace provides a container that allows IT to separate and manage work apps. With mobile security ranking a top IT concern with 75% of the companies Lopez Research surveyed, companies want a hardened version of Android, which is good for Samsung. In the “2017 Lopez Research Enterprise Mobility Benchmark”, over 72% of IT leaders interviewed said Samsung devices are on the short list for approved BYOD smartphones.
Samsung DeX and Note8 create a portal work environment. In March, Samsung announced a hockey puck sized device called the Samsung DeX that allows you to connect your phone to a monitor and use it as a laptop replacement with access to Android apps as well as business apps such as the Microsoft suite. The Note8, when combined with Samsung DEX, can create a work environment where certain apps such as video conferencing can move seamlessly from the phone to a monitor, and back to the phone with Samsung DeX-enabled versions of BlueJeans Network, Zoom, and GoToMeeting mobile apps. Of course, all of this is useless if the device lacks the proper computing power. To meet these performance requirements, the Note8 offers 6GB RAM and a 10-nm processor.
While not new, other features of note include:
Bixby. Initially launched with the S8, Samsung’s voice assistant Bixby will also be a part of the Note8 family. Voice interfaces with natural language processing have resurfaced to help consumers overcome the challenges of discovery and device usage. While Bixby is still in its infancy, it is another way for the consumer to discover and utilize Samsung specific features. I wouldn’t use it as a generic digital assistant, but it’s great for items such as changing settings, using camera features (e.g. take a selfie) and opening apps. In a world of increasing functionality, it makes sense for Samsung to provide a voice interface.
Water resistance. Several Samsung phones, including the Note8, are in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
Expandable storage. The device comes with 64GB of storage, but consumers can purchase an additional MicroSD card to expand memory can reach up to 256GB.
While it may appear that everyone has a smartphone, the battle for upgrades is underway, which spells opportunity. Comscore estimates there will be 50 million U.S. consumers eligible for phone upgrades in the fall. Additionally, many companies are rolling out new BYOD stipends and more mobile application that will provide more reasons for people to purchase new smartphones.
The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is a worthy contender in the smartphone battle given the improvements in the camera, and S Pen. I still maintain it’s very challenging, but not impossible, to get consumers to switch operating systems. Hence, Apple probably isn’t quaking in its boots, but Samsung’s recent improvements do raise the stakes for Apple’s next smartphone release. With the Note8, Samsung could win significant Android market share, giving the Google Pixel and others, a run for the money.
Maribel is the founder of Lopez Research, a market and strategic advisory firm. She’s the author of the Wiley book “Right-time Experiences” and founder of the – profit organization Data For Betterment Twitter:@MaribelLopez
This article was originally posted on Forbes.com.
Don’t miss a post, subscribe to my newsletter here.
A relentless drive for simplicity made Apple a powerhouse consumer electronics vendor. In a world of fully-featured yet complex products, simplicity is a differentiator and Apple can charge a premium for it. Over a decade ago, the iPhone changed the world by removing buttons for one home button and adding a touch screen. It brought a simple, human element to technology with software that responded to your touch. This new operating system, combined with the move to an app-centric mobile experience, revolutionized the smartphone and eventually the entire computing industry.
Fast forward and the world is different. The rise of Android proved that many people were willing to sacrifice usability for more features and greater customization capabilities. Intense competition in the smartphone market has driven companies to focus on delivering, even more, features at a faster pace. Today’s mobile market suffers from bloated, often buggy operating systems and mobile app software with so many features that customers don’t even know what’s available anymore.
Apple is working hard to make powerful equal simple
Image of iOS 11 features improvements from WWDC 2017 Source: Apple
In its desire to broaden the customer base, Apple’s iOS releases have become behemoths. Last year we saw ten major announcements in iOS 10, this year felt equally significant with features that focused on iPad, messages, files, photos, music and redesigned app store experience. The drive for simplicity was not lost in iOS. In fact, it even won several battles in this latest release. For example:
- iMessage gets easier. iOS10 saw the launch of a richer iMessage but many have found the new functions difficult to discover and access. Use of apps and stickers in iMessages apps became easier in iOS 11 with a redesigned app drawer for App Store for iMessage making it easier to decorate messages. A small win but the company still has a way to go if it wants to rival WeChat while remaining the simplicity of Apple. The messages app also syncs across devices.
- Device and app navigation gets a boost. Apple has worked on improvements in multi-tasking software for several releases now. This time, Apple delivers a more usable set of multitasking features such as a new customizable Dock that provides quick access to frequently used apps and documents from any screen, and a redesigned app switcher makes it easier to move between pairs of active apps in Split View and now Slide Over. The company also added a “drag and drop” function that makes it easier to move images and text across the apps you’re using. The redesigned Control Center quick access to frequently used controls all on one page.
- A workable file system emerged. Ok, it’s only been ten years since Box and Dropbox redefined easier cloud file storage and file management. In truth, Apple has had both of these for some time, but it finally has brought it up to the latest modern practices. The new Files app provides visibility into all of your apps everything in one place, whether files are stored locally, in iCloud Drive or across other providers like Box, Dropbox.
- Siri gets more personal. The company, like others, has an intense focus on machine learning to improve its ability to deal with accents, colloquial phrases and other natural language processing issues. In addition to Siri to voice, Siri will now use on-device learning to deliver more personal experiences. The keynote highlighted an example where a person searched for information on Iceland in Safari and Siri remembered the context of this search in order to suggest information in News and add the correct spelling of cities such as Reykjavik when typing in other apps such as mail, messages. This is just one simple, useful example of how our devices can become more personal.
- Maps go indoors. Wayfinding in malls, stores and airports is the next wave of location-based services, but it’s been difficult to deploy. Apple Maps is making it a little easier by adding indoor maps for certain airports and shopping centers. It’s not ubiquitous, but it’s a good start. The company also added lane guidance to avoid missing a turn or exit which is a much-needed feature in GPS systems.
- The keyboard gets a boost. There are many third-party keyboards on the market for mobile devices, highlighting the limitations of existing mobile keyboards. Apple took a stab at eliminating the need for those with the one-handed keyboard mode on iPhone makes typing on the go even easier. Meanwhile, a QuickType keyboard on iPad delivers quick access to numbers, symbols and punctuation.
Apple’s iOS 11: should you be disappointed? No
Of course, there are many additional innovative features that push the experience forward in areas such as photos, person to person Apple Pay etc. You can see a full round up of those features here. Yet, for many, iOS 11 didn’t deliver a big “Wow” in the mobile arena. Samsung received a similarly mixed reception with its S8 launch as did Google’s I/O conference. There appears to be a general trend towards bashing a product if it doesn’t achieve breakthrough innovation.
As I said in last year’s piece on “Incrementalism or Innovation? A Perspective on Google’s IO and Apple’s WWDC” Mobility is a maturing market and you can’t reinvent an industry every year. The pace of change remains rapid, but the type of change is very different. Software features that appear to be incremental innovations are positive upgrades for the industry. Companies are focused on the refinement of existing functionality.
Consumers and enterprises can only absorb a certain amount of change at any given time. Before we pan the latest releases from companies such as Apple Google and Samsung, we should ask ourselves if we will be happier with mobile products that are faster and more stable than the past.
There are definite opportunities for legitimate breakthrough innovations such as full wireless charging, a two-day battery life, and foldable materials. However, without significant materials innovation, these are just theories and wishes. In lieu of this, companies like Apple, Google and Samsung are focused on making our existing technology experience more frictionless. We have a long way to go in areas such as natural language processing and image recognition. The types of experiences we’re receiving in our mobile phone software weren’t even possible three years ago. The latest wave of big data technologies and machine learning algorithms are delivering amazing breakthroughs in recommendations, image recognition and accessing information with natural speech. We’re seeing the fruits of that labor in iOS11.
My guess is that most consumers aren’t ready or willing to have their world reinvented with another new product category. What customers want is technology that easy and that delivers on its promises. What’s needed is a period of incrementalism that makes today’s innovations rock solid while gently pushing us forward into new features and usage patterns. On that front, I see Apple making progress by balancing innovation and refinements.
This post originally appeared on Maribel’s column at Forbes.com. Sign up for my free newsletter here so you’ll never miss a blog, video recording or research note.
To harness the power of mobile apps, organizations must get on board with the Internet of Things (IoT) and contextual computing.
Mobile-first apps drive employee engagement.
It’s been 10 years since Apple’s iPhone launched what would become the ubiquitous mobility era, but we’re still struggling to realize the vision of a mobile-first world.Newer consumer apps take advantage of mobile’s unique features, such as location awareness and voice control, but enterprise software still has a long way to go. Most companies work within the confines of applications and experiences that were designed in the 1980s.
The challenges of embracing mobile-first aren’t just about technology maturity. A mobile-first strategy requires companies to commit to overhauling business processes and workflows to take advantage of new data and device functionality. And it requires more than just focusing on mobile.
More than mobile
The term mobile-first seems out of place today. After all, would anyone today build a new app or service that only runs on a PC? I think not. A company may create a cloud-based service, but that runs on any device with a browser. What of the burgeoning internet of things (IoT) market? Should apps become IoT-first? No.
In several years, we won’t even talk about mobility. Everything that we build will be designed to work across mobile, PCs and a variety of connected devices. The new IT world assumes we’ll embrace and expand upon all of the mobile and cloud computing concepts developed over the past decade. In 2017, next-generation computing should deliver apps, services and business workflows that have four qualities:
- They’re built to operate and move seamlessly across devices. The best experiences allow a person to start a workflow or transaction on one device and seamlessly transfer it to another device. Apple and Microsoft both offer this type of portability through their Continuity and Windows Continuum features, respectively.
- They’re adaptable to the user and device context. Context, in this case ,could refer to device size or to the availability of input mechanisms such as keyboard, voice, stylus, touch and gesture. Apps also need to sense what functions are available — such as camera, GPS and biometric sensors — and provide different options for actions the user can take based on these capabilities. Context-aware apps can also show different information based on location, such as bringing up certain notes or launching Microsoft PowerPoint when the user enters a meeting room in a specific building.
- They’re designed to collect and act on new data sources. Smartphones ushered in a new wave of sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes. Wearables and IoT devices add opportunities for gleaning sensor data such as heart rate and humidity. Next-generation computing requires deep integration with a wide range of connected devices. Wearable apps can collect data from sensors, for example, to provide more context for what the user is doing or feeling at a given moment — and provide in-app options that react to that context.
- They can learn and make predictions. Mobile brought to IT the concept of personalized services based on an understanding of user behavior. End-user computing in 2017 will take advantage of big data storage, analytics and machine learning to deliver services that provide users with the right information at the right time.
We’re living in a mobile- and cloud-first world that relies on a diverse set of devices and ways to access business data. If you haven’t embraced this approach, you’re behind. The only question is, will you change your mobile-first strategy to take advantage of these tools? If not, you’ll be even further behind when the next wave of change — IoT, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.
This post was originally published on TechTarget. You can read the latest about Lopez Research content, events and more by signing up for our newsletter here.