The fourth preview of Android 8.0 Oreo that started rolling out to owners of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus several days back prevents third-party docks from activating the smartphones' Samsung Desktop Experience (DeX) mode, XDA Developers reported on Sunday, citing several users with firsthand experience of the change. Ever since debuting with Android 7.0 Nougat-based Samsung Experience this spring, the Galaxy S8 series was advertised as being able to access DeX only by using Samsung's own DeX station which retails for approximately $150, depending on the market. Many third-party manufacturers were soon able to trick the devices into activating the same mode when inserted into third-party docks, ultimately providing consumers with a cheaper phone-to-PC solution centered around their Samsung-made flagship but one that the phone maker still has every right to block.
The South Korean tech giant apparently doesn't approve of such devices and has made active steps to render them nearly useless. As per some owners of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus running the latest beta build of Android 8.0 Oreo-based Samsung Experience 9.0, connecting the handsets with the latest experimental firmware to any third-party dock only prompts the accessory to mirror their screen on a computer or an external monitor, whereas it would have previously activated the DeX mode. In essence, the change makes devices like the Miraxess-made Mirabook dead on arrival as they won't be able to perform as advertised once they hit the market as far as Samsung's Android flagships are concerned. The Galaxy Note 8 that's also compatible with the DeX station will presumably be treated to a similar update once it makes a jump to Android 8.0 Oreo early next year, whereas the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus that are expected to run Google's latest major OS version out of the box should also be virtually unusable with third-party stations from day one.
People looking for a phone-to-PC solution on one of Samsung's newest flagships without buying the company's DeX station will hence be forced to opt for a truly independent third-party platform like Sentio Desktop, so long as they aren't willing to install custom ROMs as the independent development community is bound to try to circumvent the newly uncovered restrictions in the near future.