These days there's a lot of talk about making productivity more mobile. Some companies have been throwing tablets at us, others tablets that are also sort of laptops, and a few (like Motorola and Microsoft) have tried to turn smartphones into desktop PCs. With the introduction of the Samsung Desktop Experience (or DeX) Samsung is the latest company to join that third group.
So what the heck is this, and why should you care? It's a dock, plain and simple, and by slapping a galaxy S8 or S8 Plus smartphone inside you'll be able to turn the phone into a desktop PC. It just looks like a charging dock, albeit one that has HDMI output and brings up your phones display on a bigger screen. That dock also has a built-in fan to keep your phone cool, ethernet, two USB ports, plus a keyboard and mouse.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S8: Best Phone Ever?
From the looks of things DeX brings up an oversized version of Android onto the big screen- complete with an app drawer and resizeable windows. According to The Verge it's a lot like Chrome OS, but without a proper desktop browser. Essentially it's stretching out Android apps onto a bigger display, and the ones that are optimised to handle it are going to fair better than those that do not. The Verge found that Samsung's browser, Microsoft's Office suite, and Adobe's creative apps were all well suited to the bigger displays. Other apps, on the other hand, just looked like overstretched Android apps.
So it's clear that DeX's success will, in part hinge on developers optimising their apps for much larger displays than they're used to. Still, it's not so bad. At least Android itself has built in support for external keyboards and mice. DeX's system will also offer users the option of resizing and moving app windows around the screen, even if those apps haven't been updated with Nougat support.
One key feature that will help this, however, is Samsung's partnership with VMware. This partnership is designed to bring virtual Windows desktop apps to the DeX, meaning that you should be able to remotely connect to a Windows PC you have plugged in somewhere else. Provided, of course, that both it and your S8 are connected to the internet.
Obviously Samsung is far from the first person to try and bridge the gap between phones and desktops in this way, since Microsoft and Motorola attempted it in the past to limited success. Whether they succeed or not will be a very different story, and we'll just have to see what the response is once DeX is unleashed upon the world.
Unfortunately we don't know when DeX will be available, or how much it costs. What I really want to know, however, is if there will be some sort of laptop dock. That would make the S8 more useful as a remote working tool, though I can't help but think that you might as well just use a normal laptop in such situations.
More Samsung Galaxy S8 coverage from Giz UK: