Interview: DeX product manager talks major new features, greater device support

Samsung DeX has come a long way since it was first introduced with the Galaxy S8. It’s a PC-like experience that the device can power when connected to an external monitor. It can render multiple free-form and movable windows while having access to optimized apps from the likes of Microsoft and Adobe. You initially needed a separate dock for this which limited its reach to only those who really thought they could get some use out of it. As we highlighted in our original DeX review two years ago, it was a great proof of concept which would get better with more powerful devices and enhanced functionality, but it wasn’t for everyone in its original state.

The company ended up making it much easier to access this platform with the Galaxy Note 9. There’s no need for a dock anymore. Just use any USB-C to HDMI cable for DeX. Your phone remains usable so it’s really great for multitasking. Samsung’s recent tablets are also capable of running DeX on the device itself. The company has further improved the platform with the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ by bringing DeX to Windows and Mac computers. We’ve tried out the Samsung DeX PC app already and found that it works reasonably well.

Even though DeX may not be of much use to the average user, Samsung continues to see promise in the platform, which is why we see it being improved year after year. DeX is the manifestation of Samsung’s idea that one day, the device in your pocket will be enough to see you through your entire work day.

How does the company reflect on what it has achieved with DeX so far and what is its vision for the future of DeX? That was the focus of our interview with Hyoungsik Kim, Principal Professional of Business Solution PM Group at Samsung Electronics’ Mobile Division. He’s the product manager for Samsung DeX.

Q: DeX is present on millions of devices by virtue of the numbers that Samsung ships. How many people are actually using DeX on a regular basis?

A: Globally, we have millions of users leveraging DeX across tablet and phone and the number is increasing. Now, with DeX’s easy connection via a USB-C to HDMI adaptor, we are making DeX even easier to use. In addition, the recently announced DeX for PC concept enables DeX to run on a Windows PC or Mac, expanding the use cases and further increasing adoption.

While some users use DeX as their main computing device since they are satisfied with the DeX experience, we learned that a lot of users find DeX useful especially on-the-go situations such as business trip.

Q: DeX allows users to extract more functionality out of their device by enabling a PC-like environment with something that fits in their pocket. Has Samsung seen or worked with businesses to deploy DeX in the field?

A: There has been a lot of interest of using DeX in B2B use cases. Today, CIOs are looking to consolidate multiple devices into one, and mobile seems to be a most preferred option. This is part of a larger digital transformation and Samsung DeX delivers on this need.

In public safety industry, for example, as we recently announced Chicago Police Department piloting DeX in-vehicle, DeX enhances officers’ productivity on-the-go, enabling them to complete reports and connect with servers while in the field.

Samsung is also working with WeWork by offering ‘Samsung DeX Mobility Hot Desk’ for WeWork members to experience and use DeX at major WeWork offices in Korea. In addition, we are working to expand more use cases in businesses with consumer banks, public and private enterprises by implementing DeX as their main computing device for workers to increase mobility.

Q: It has been a year since Linux on DeX was introduced. How has the development in the beta stage progressed during this time and when can we expect a stable version to be out?

A: We really appreciate the amount of attention and patience our Linux on DeX community has shown to us and we are currently re-evaluating it.

Q: Samsung has largely limited DeX to its more premium devices so far. Device specs are an obvious limitation. However, could it be optimized enough for the high-end Galaxy A handsets, for example?

A: Samsung DeX was launched with Galaxy S8 and continues to expand the support so that more Galaxy users benefit from the DeX experience. For example, we have expanded DeX to the latest tablets including Galaxy Tab S6 and for the first time on the Galaxy A series, newly announced Galaxy A90 5G will support DeX. Our plan is to increase DeX-enabled devices as much as possible in next few years.

Q: Has Samsung thought about making tablets for customers in the business or education sectors that run DeX by default?

A: Currently, our focus for DeX is to complement mobile experience by enhancing quick and powerful multi-tasking on the go. As we always listen to consumers’ feedback to enhance user experience, we have provided a DeX keyboard short cut (Function key + DeX) on recently launched Galaxy Tab S6.

Q: Will S Pen gestures be introduced for devices that can run DeX natively?

A: Galaxy Tab S6 which runs DeX natively supports S Pen Air action in DeX mode.

Q: Can the Galaxy Fold run DeX natively? It does have the perfect form factor and the specs to do so?

A: Galaxy Fold will support DeX via connecting to an external monitor, not natively on the phone.

Q: Will we see enhanced cloud functionality on DeX, in that it becomes possible to seamlessly sync between two different DeX devices?

A: Samsung always listens to consumers’ feedback in order to enhance user experience. Currently Samsung DeX does allow users to back-up and restore via Samsung cloud when users switch to a new device.

Q: What new experiences and features can we expect for DeX going forward?

A: We’ve spent the last three years building the DeX ecosystem and developing innovative features to allow users to use phone and monitor at the same time. We are now shifting gears towards increasing user retention by listening to customers’ feedback and fine-tuning features. At the same time, we are preparing some major advancements in next few years and we will share more details when available.

Also we will work with various global partners to build DeX and large screen Android ecosystem to deliver enhanced application experience on Samsung DeX.

Q: What does the future hold for DeX? Could there ever be a truly wireless way of accessing DeX on a display?

A: Our goal is to provide simple and easy access to apps and contents on your mobile device anytime, anywhere, in a familiar manner to Samsung One UI. Our broader vision for the future is for complete connectivity where Samsung users to access their device on any screen, whether it is TV in your living room, your PC or Mac at the office or even the display on your autonomous vehicle. We are continuing to build a connectivity ecosystem that will provide easy and simple ways to expand your mobile experience to include use cases that you’ve never thought of before.

Evidently, there’s still a lot more to expect from Samsung for DeX. Support for the Galaxy A90 5G shows that Samsung will eventually expand it to more non-flagship devices. It could be limited to top-tier non-flagships seeing as how the Galaxy A90 5G does have a flagship Snapdragon 855 chipset. DeX clearly requires considerable compute power that’s currently beyond the scope of its more affordable models.

The company continues to take in feedback and make changes to DeX accordingly. It’s also working on some major improvements for DeX. We’re excited to see how Samsung improves DeX and further integrates it into the ecosystem. DeX certainly holds promise and might end up changing the way we perceive mobile computing in the years to come.

Join the Discussion