The keynote of Samsung Developer Conference 2014 was a wide-ranging, 90-minute affair that touched on topics as varied as smart homes, virtual reality, and health. More traditional computing and smartphones were largely put on the back burner, but Samsung did drop some details about a new initiative to make moving between the many devices we use ever day easier. It's called Samsung Flow, and it's basically Samsung's take on Apple's Continuity features that are now baked into iOS and OS X Yosemite.
At its most basic level, Flow lets you move content and activities between your Samsung devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers, smartwatches, and even TV sets. As explained by Samsung Vice President of Research Pranav Mistry, Flow consists of three main components. Transfer is pretty self-explanatory — if you're viewing a picture or a video, you can shoot it from your tablet to your phone with just a few taps. Shooting pictures between devices is pretty basic, but Samsung also showed this feature off with video calls — if you're taking a video call on your tablet and need to get more mobile, you can shoot it to your phone.
Transfer, Defer, and Notify
The second major feature for Flow is called Defer. As its name implies, Defer lets you pause an activity in whatever state it happens to be and pick it up later, on the same device or on another device if you so choose. Samsung gave the example of someone working on a spreadsheet or other work document on their phone and then deferring it until they're back at their desk, working on a standard computer. Another example was watching a movie on a phone and then pausing and deferring it until you're back at your TV, where it can pick up right where you left off. It's not clear exactly how setup works on a TV or computer, though — we're guessing that Samsung will make a Flow app to communicate with PCs, or it could even work through Chrome.
The last piece is Notify, which essentially lets you push notifications and device status alerts across your devices. Much as your iPhone can now ring your Mac and iPad, Notify lets you see incoming calls across all your devices (yes, even your TV), as well as any other notifications you choose. It also shares device states, so if your smartphone is running out of battery, your watch or tablet can let you know.
Notifications being pushed to your TV — what could go wrong?
Samsung has built a pretty simple interface for transferring stuff between devices — compatible apps can pull up a simple dialog box that shows all of your Samsung devices that are in range and capable of working with Flow. Just tapping the destination will send your content where you want it. And building it into apps should be pretty straightforward — Mistry said that any app that supports the standard Android share or view intents will work with Flow. There's no word on exactly how and when Flow will roll out, but Samsung will be hosting some sessions on developing for Flow over the course of the conference. Of course, Samsung is far from the only company working on this type of technology for Android — a company called NextBit is trying to build software that essentially lets you hit pause in your apps.