We tested Samsung’s new Galaxy Camera recently, having a quick hands-on with the device that has incorporated the Android Jelly Bean OS into a compact camera. The Korean firm has made an impressive device that is easier to use than a standard compact camera and bring a whole new level of features, leading us to ponder whether more tech manufacturers will follow this lead and adopt mobile operating systems to run a wider range of gadgets?
What Samsung has done with the Galaxy Camera is a brilliant idea that seems so simple that it’s surprising that someone didn’t think of it earlier. While not unique – since Nikon has also recently unveiled its Coolpix S800c Android-powered camera – the Galaxy Camera is groundbreaking and could well prove to be an effective way of stemming the decline in sales of compact cameras, largely thought to be due to the rise of camera phones.
Using the device is incredibly simple, with the 4.8-inch Super Clear LCD touchscreen making both the camera controls and wider UI functions easy to get to grips with. Compact camera user interfaces can be very complicated and idiosyncratic, and seeing everything simplified to a touchscreen-based Android interface is a welcome change.
The Galaxy Camera also brings about two developments that either didn’t exist or weren’t widely available until now. Firstly, a large touchscreen allows for the editing of images on the camera itself, with Android having a wealth of photo-editing apps already available for the platform.
Secondly, with Android being a mobile platform the Galaxy Camera connects to both Wi-Fi and 3G networks and can support services such as Instagram and Dropbox, meaning photos can be uploaded straight from the device.
So with Samsung’s innovative new device taking what compact cameras can do to another level, will the idea of building mobile platforms into gadgets other than smartphones catch on? We think there is very real chance that it will.
With so many new gadgets featuring touchscreen controls and connectivity options that extend beyond devices themselves, there is a real opening for a standard platform to be adopted right across the board.
Adding a touchscreen to a gadget could mean a manufacturer having to develop an entirely new operating system and user interface for its product, weighty tasks which could prove risky if the firm does not have prior experience of doing this.
Android offers an off-the-shelf, open-source solution to this problem and is easily utilised by any manufacturer. A further advantage of this approach can be seen with the Galaxy Camera – a device using Android can be opened up to all the connectivity options a mobile platform has to offer and form a part of a wider ecosystem.
The new camera isn’t Samsung’s first attempt at building Android into a device other than a smartphone. Last year the Korean electronics giant developed a ‘smart fridge‘ which runs a version of Google’s mobile platform and can remind users when they need to stock up on certain foods.
While the ‘smart fridge’ has the faintly ridiculous price tag of $3,499 attached to it, the concept itself is an interesting one – if your smartphone and tablet device can now easily be connected to your TV and games console then why not extend this ecosystem further so there is a whole range of consumer electronics all running the same platform?
It seems we’re not alone in this opinion as the results of a poll that has been running on the Dialaphone blog indicate that a large majority of our readers think the same. There were also murmurs of agreement from our Facebook page, with several readers believing that Android could move outside of the smartphone world.
Dialaphone Facebook follower Dwayne Barker thinks that the integration with other devices offered by Android make its wider adoption a real possibility: Barker commented: “[It] makes sense as connectivity and applications integration is quite mature now. No point trying to reinvent the wheel when storage is so cheap and Android/Linux distros are so well supported”.
However, Jason Mountjoy floated the idea that phones themselves will further expand in their functions and replace other consumer items, commenting: “Perhaps smartphones running mobile operating systems will actually supercede more gadgets. Seems more likely to me.”
We can imagine a near future where many, if not most, consumer electronics are linked to each other via a shared operating system. Your TV, fridge, car and camera could all run the same platform, communicate with each other and be controlled remotely.
Android, as a result of its open-source nature, seems perfectly positioned to be adopted by a variety of manufacturers and tailored to the needs of each device, while connecting seamlessly to others. Samsung’s Galaxy Camera could be just the first step down this road, with many more exciting devices yet to come.