What's a useful workaround to the small viewing area of the smartphone? For the end of January, Spring Design is getting ready to issue the final release of ScreenShare Browser, an innovative set of apps for looking at and interacting with Web pages on an Android phone from the larger screen of an Android tablet.
Now downloadable free of charge as beta software from Google Play, the ScreenShare Browser mirrors content ranging from emails to YouTube videos. Users can also read email attachments and reply to emails from their tablets, said Spring Design CEO Albert Teng, in a briefing for TabletPCReview.
"The smartscreen is an 'always-on' device with excellent cellular connectivity, but the screen size of the phone is inherently limited," Teng told TabletPCReview. "That's why we're making it possible to to sync content with just a touch to the tablet, where it is easier to navigate."
To minimize smartphone battery drain, the ScreenShare Browser uses Bluetooth for connectivity between the phone and tablet. With typical Web usage, users will be able to stay connected to the Internet from their tablet for a whole work day without tethering, according to Teng.
Through the connection between the two screens, or "dual-screen interaction," content on the tablet can also be moved to the phone. Users can also choose which screen they want to sync. For example, someone might want to move certain news stories to the tablet for quick navigation, while continuing to use the phone to browse for more articles.
The ScreenShare Browser exploits screen mirroring technology originally developed for Spring Design's earlier product, a $399 eReader device known as the Alex Reader. "But the hardware device was expensive," Teng acknowledged.
A Dual-App Solution
The beta release of each app currently carries a 5.0 star rating from users on Google Play.
In the current pre-release version, installation still requires a two-step process per device. First the browser software is installed, and then a separate piece of software called ScreenShare Service, which supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and manages the exchange of messages between the phone and tablet.
For the forthcoming final release, though, Spring Design is integrating ScreenShare Service into ScreenShare Browser, for single-step installation on each device. "We're also planning usability enhancements to the UI (user interface)," Teng added.
When the final release is issued, the tablet app will be priced at $4.99, although possibly with a lower special introductory price. The smartphone app will continue to be offered free of charge, he said. For further on down the road, Spring Design is eyeing apps for sharing content from phones to other devices, said Teng, mentioning the iPad, TVs, and Windows 8/RT devices as a few possibilities.
Also, later this year, the company plans to release a follow-on "Gallery app" which will be able to sync an Android phone's SD content and navigation on to an Android tablet, according to the CEO.
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