At least one topic that hasn't been extensively covered amid the excitement surrounding the announcement and eventual release of Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ is what, if any implication the phone will have to the Android application ecosystem. The device is slated to bring with it a new accessory called DeX, which effectively serves as a full desktop dock when connected to a display. While some may posit that this feature is a new competition for productivity on the laptop or desktop front – namely a direct competitor to Chrome OS – there are plenty of good reasons to believe that is not going to be the case. In fact, it may serve as a motivator for app developers to begin solving a problem Android has had since the release of the very first Android tablet.
It's no secret that one of Android's pitfalls versus certain other operating systems is that its tablet UI is essentially just a stretched out or scaled up version of the phone UI. Although Google tried to rectify the problem by first releasing the tablet-specific Android Honeycomb and later including new APIs and API adjustments to help developers to make use of the extra screen real estate for more enriched experiences, the problem is still pervasive and further attempts by the company have been through improvements to their own applications. By way of example, although the OS creators at Google have strived to rectify the problem by adding additional content to applications such as Gmail on the larger screens – bringing it more in line with the web application. The overwhelming majority of the other developers, however, have yet to really implement any such changes. This is where the Galaxy S8 and its larger counterpart, the S8+, in conjunction with the DeX dock, come in. Because the dock is designed to create an Android desktop-like experience, simply stretching out a phone application may no longer be viable. Developers may well be forced, as many have with Chrome OS applications, to create a better experience designed specifically for bigger screens.
It goes without saying that Google has attempted to tackle this issue already, and from a variety of angles. The release of Android Apps on some Chromebooks through Chrome OS could even be viewed as a similar approach to solving the problem. Other companies have also tried their hands, such as with Remix OS and the associated Singularity OS. However, Samsung's approach is bound to be a bit different, since the success or failure of its latest accessory could hinge on whether developers fall in line in creating the company's full-desktop Android experience. Samsung also has a substantial amount of weight and financial resources to throw around because of its placement as a popular, established manufacturer in the Android arena. For now, it's a waiting game, but it is easy to see how DeX could turn out to be a very positive thing for Android as a whole.