Samsung updates mobile, TV, and gaming SDKs to attract more developers

The leading maker of smartphones is trying to create its own ecosystem à la Apple

Like most other device builders, Samsung relies on Google's Android OS to power its smartphones and tablets. But not content to simply ride the Android wave, Samsung is trying to set itself apart with vendor-specific capabilities ranging from pen functionality to enterprise security, prompting the company to release its own software development kits over the last couple years.

At its first ever Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco this week, the company unveiled several SDK updates for those proprietary capabilities currently offered on top of Android on Samsung devices and, in some cases, available for iOS applications such as its ChatOn instant messaging service or Smart TV remote-control app.

Samsung's SDKs include the updated Samsung Mobile SDK for using the S Pen input device standard on several Samsung devices, the new Knox SDK for mobile security and management, the updated ChatOn SDK for its instant messaging service, and the updated Chord SDK for one-touch discovery and pairing of devices.

Banking on the company's strength in home entertainment gear, Samsung also updated its Smart TV SDK for build applications for its Smart TV line of Internet-connected TVs and its Multiscreen gaming SDK for building games to be played on a big-screen TV via a Samsung tablet or smartphone. All but the Smart TV SDK use Android; the Smart TV SDK relies on Linux.

"They want to capture the developer, so if you use those APIs, you're on Samsung, you're not on other things," said Keithen Hayenga, a developer relations engineer at Marmalade, which enables cross-platform game development.

If successful, Samsung's efforts would yield a set of committed developers for its devices. Samsung is the largest Android smartphone manufacturer and the top smartphone maker overall. "By introducing their own SDKs and APIs, they're trying to [provide] the whole experience much like Apple tries to do with its ecosystem," said Andrew Cook, a senior software engineer for Vision Service Plan, which provides vision care benefits.

Samsung is "flexing its developer muscles," while working on both consumer and enterprise systems, said IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "On the enterprise side, the Knox platform caught my attention because it involves Samsung integrating security deeply in the OS. This is definitely evidence of the depth of R&D that they now have on Android," Hilwa said. "The other impressive set of functionality that caught my attention in the consumer world is the Smart TV SDK and the multiscreen capabilities added such as overlay of mobile device screen objects on the TV."

While emphasizing Android at the moment, Samsung also used its conference to air the latest developments for its open source Tizen OS, which Samsung is working on with Intel. Tizen features an Internet interface and supports HTML5. But the company has yet to announce a roadmap for Tizen rollouts.

This story, "Samsung updates mobile, TV, and gaming SDKs to attract more developers," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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