updated 08:20 am EST, Wed January 25, 2012
Samsung Galaxy Tab may get S Pen too
A conversation with Samsung product marketing manager Ryan Bidan late Tuesday has hinted that the next Galaxy Tab line may make interface a core selling point with a possible return to the early days of tablets. The division lead told Laptop that he expected the S Pen from the Galaxy Note to make its way to tablets. Slates and other devices would also get "3D gestures" using the front camera, face recognition, and voice in certain circumstances.
"I think a pen interface continues to make a lot of sense across a number of screen sizes, like the larger is more obvious of those," Bidan said. "That's about as specific as I can be without announcing a product."
He wouldn't say whether Samsung would follow ASUS' Eee Pad Transformer and Transformer Prime into a keyboard dock, saying only that the company would "explore different input methods."
A shift towards pens would be a risky step for the Galaxy Tab. So far, tablets that have made pens their selling points have fared poorly, although not always due to the input method itself. Windows tablet PCs are the most commonly cited examples and saw eight years of their sales eclipsed by the iPad within nine months as Microsoft's insistence on pen input first, along with high prices, failed to catch on with users. HTC's Flyer and Jetstream tablets use a finger-friendly Android interface, but both cost more than other tablets without otherwise standing out and have struggled next to Apple and current Samsung tablets.
Regardless of external control methods, Bidan did acknowledge that Android has had a problem adapting to tablets. Android 4.0 made the experience "a little bit more consistent" between a phone and a tablet, he said, and helped curb the "UI fatigue" from jumping between the two. Google still had a challenge in trying to balance interface elements, but 4.0 had gone some direction towards solving the interface but admitting that tablet apps weren't phone apps. "Google is working through it," he said.
Like Apple, Samsung wasn't immediately concerned about low-end tablets like the Kindle Fire and saw users moving up when they wanted to do more.
Interface has often been considered one of the core problem of Android tablets. Although it's now more consistent and faster, the desktop-like behavior has been considered more of a liability to some than an advantage. Even during the holidays, Android tablets still left the iPad in a majority as users picked the simpler, faster interface.