How the new features of the Samsung Galaxy S4 could be used in business
Samsung’s lavish rollout of its new Galaxy S4 in New York Thursday night was aimed squarely at the consumer market.
But in today’s BYOD world, popular consumer devices will find a way into the enterprise, though often with resistance from IT pros who must manage these devices and secure the data they can both store and access.
Samsung knows this, which is why the company created its SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise) program, offering enhanced security and device management features.
But even with SAFE, Samsung’s extremely popular Galaxy SIII smartphone only accounted for 6% of enterprise activations in last year’s Q4, according to MDM vendor Good Technology. While this makes it the top Android device in the enterprise, three versions of Apple’s iPhone and two versions of its iPad were more popular than the SIII in the enterprise in Q4, based on Good's Q4 numbers.
So at last month’s Mobile World Congress, Samsung upped the enterprise ante with the rollout of KNOX, a platform that the South Korean manufacturer says will enable IT managers to keep work data and applications separate from personal data and apps on Samsung mobile devices. (My CITEworld colleague Ryan Faas has an in-depth rundown of KNOX here.)
KNOX came up again Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall (albeit briefly) because the S4 -- which runs on Android’s 4.2.2 Jelly Bean – also will be the first Samsung device to ship with the security platform.
But apart from a brief mention of Knox, the event was almost all about the upgraded design, hardware and, particularly, a host of new software features designed to further distance Samsung from other Android manufacturers and challenge the iPhone for supremacy in the high-end smartphone market. Here's how some of these consumer features could play out in a business setting.
Dual Cameras – Front- and back-facing cameras allow users to take photos and videos of their subjects and themselves simultaneously (the image of the user appears as an inset). Attendees at conferences and other business events could use this feature to record events while providing talking-head commentary.
Translator – This feature provides translations in nine languages, including text to speech and speech to text. In the latter case, the user speaks into the phone in his or her native language, and the words are translated into another language. The app also can translate written text. It could be useful in business settings when language is a barrier.
S Voice Drive – First, you shouldn’t be texting while driving. But if you must insist, the app lets users text with their voices (yes, other phones also let you do that) and conduct voice searches. And if the user says “Read out,” S Voice Drive will read aloud a text message. It’s a feature that could be useful to sales people and other enterprise workers who frequently are on the road.
Air Call Accept – This allows the user to accept phone calls with a swipe of the hand. Again, potentially useful for enterprise workers on the go.
Dual Video Calls – Samsung’s ChatOn messenger app enables three-way video calling (with both the front- and rear-facing cameras) and screen sharing. This obviously could be useful for video conference calls, though with the front and rear views, it sounds like it would be a bit confusing.
Brandon Porco, the chief technologist for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, says that IT will have to try lots of different things and move quickly to keep abreast of evolving employee needs. "Google has it very well-patterned: Launch and iterate."
Although Apple is often accused of not being an enterprise company, it's only in the last few years that Apple has abandoned its enterprise-oriented products. The real story may be that Apple's discovered that making enterprise-focused efforts simply don't deliver a huge return on investment.
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