In addition to unveiling a new 8.9-inch Galaxy Tab and redesigning its upcoming 10.1-inch offering a few moments ago, Samsung showed off a whole suite of software and services aimed at turning its line of touch tablets into a premium offering, much like Apple has done with its iTunes ecosystem on the iPad. The company rolled out the announcements at lightning speed and was loose on details, so bear with us if there are any inaccuracies.
Samsung’s entire Galaxy Tab line will come with its newest Android UI modification, TouchWiz 4.0. Upon first glance (we’ll have more detailed impressions soon), the new UI appears to smooth out a few of Android Honeycomb’s graphical shortcomings. Its biggest features are “Live Panels,” a new widget system, and a new “Mini App Tray.”
Live Panels: Samsung has created a new set of new, large widgets for Android 3.0 and an easy way to resize and reorganize them on your homescreen. Many of these widgets are “Hub” apps that I will describe in a bit.
Mini Apps Tray: Similar to the iPad, this is a row of large shortcuts at the bottom of the homescreen. It looks very similar to OSX and iOS.
A Hub for everything
In addition to its user experience enhancements to Android Honeycomb, Samsung users on Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab devices will soon get access to a new suite of apps that Samsung is calling “Hubs.” These were first unveiled at the Mobile World Congress, but will now be on tablets as well.
Social Hub: This hub hopes to be a unified inbox for all your communication needs. Email, calendar, contacts, social networks, and messaging will all be condensed into one location. Facebook hopes to accomplish this as well. Organizing all of this data is always harder than it appears.
Readers Hub: This app will have a full e-book library, 2300 magazines, newspapers, and other reading material for sale or subscription.
Music Hub: Samsung is getting into the ring with iTunes. It plans to sell music on its own service (we assume MP3s as no streaming feature was announced). Sony recently announced its own media store as well.
Media Hub: This app will have “first-run movies and next day TV shows” available. We don’t know exactly how the rental/purchasing will work or how much it will cost. No details were announced.
A boatload of business features were announced for the Galaxy Tabs as well. In an attempt to make IT departments happier, the Galaxy Tabs will have data encryption, a BusinessObjects Explorer that lets you take business documents on the go, Exchange ActiveSync support, Sybase support, Cisco AnyConnect, and productivity software similar to Microsoft’s Office suite which will allow users to create PowerPoint slideshows, Word documents, and Excel documents.