Kinoma, a mobile platform company acquired by chipset maker Marvell back in February, is here at SXSW showing off its technology to interested users, developers and handset makers. The company's smartphone experience called Kinoma Play is more than just a new app you can download on your mobile phone - it's the smartphone version of a new app platform that will soon work on Android devices, both phone and tablet, in addition to some Windows Mobile and Nokia devices. It's also available to handset makers and other hardware manufacturers to implement in their products.
For app developers, the potential is the ability to develop apps that work on multiple phones through this platform. And for end users, Kinoma Play offers what is in many ways an improvement to the default Android experience.
One of the nice things about using Android is that you can customize the phone to your own personal preferences. You're not stuck using the same user interface that ships with Android, or even the handset maker's own interface, like HTC's Sense UI. Homescreen replacement apps, launchers and other customizations allow even the most novice smartphone users to make the phone their own.
Along those lines, Kinoma Play, which will arrive in beta for Android in mid-2011, will appeal to those who like trying new front-end experiences for their device.
Kinoma said it will give us our readers interested in the Android beta exclusive invites, so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks.
Kinoma Play is Not an App, It's a Platform
But this Kinoma Play "app," isn't really just an app. It's not just a launcher or homescreen replacement, either. Included in the Kinoma Play download is a complete suite of applications including a music player, video player, photo viewer and more. It even has its own built-in app store which contains apps of its own.
There are some interesting benefits to Kinoma's platform. For example, everything, including the homescreen itself, works in landscape mode. When streaming content, a quick tap of the "Now Playing" icon from the homescreen makes it easy to get back to your play/pause controls. You can see a live thumbnail of a video playing when you return to the dashboard to multi-task. The photo gallery downloads thumbnails faster and renders images in a higher resolution (and much quicker) than when you're using the default Android photo gallery app. And with just a press of the finger, you can zoom deep into a photo to see more detail than you could before. And those are just a few of the new experiences Kinoma has to offer.
A Dashboard Where Apps Work Together
However, one of our favorite features is the Kinoma dashboard, which functions like a better notifications interface for Android devices. It does not replace Android's notifications, though - that's still accessible when Kinoma is running. This new dashboard offers a stream of information from your apps which you can scroll through both up and down, and within each app's section, side to side. (See the video below for what this looks like).
Kinoma's apps are integrated to work with each other, too, which allows for interesting interactions - for example, the Twitter app can use Bing's translation feature to translate tweets into other languages while the photos app can upload content to other third-party services.
Not Just for Android
What makes Kinoma more interesting than, say, a general homescreen replacement app, for instance, is the combination of Marvell's experience in chipsets combined with Kinoma's software. Marvell can now offer a complete solution - from silicon to applications - which is an alternative that may pique hardware manufactuers' interests.
According to Peter Hoddie, VP of the Kinoma Platform, Kinoma's platform can power other types of devices beyond smartphones, including tablets, printers, and even smart grid devices.
Kinoma doesn't see itself in competition with Android because it runs on top of the Android OS. Even if a handset maker chooses to make Kinoma the primary experience for their phone, it's not displacing the OS. It's augmenting it with new capabilities.
We got to see Kinoma Play in action here at SXSW and we're looking forward to trying it on our own Android devices in the near future.