The Tech Guru series features eight stories from some of Samsung’s printing experts, presenting their points of view in their respective fields. The series will show how Samsung printing products and technology – and those who develop them – embody the three core Samsung values: Smart, Fast and Reliable.
Smart UX Apps are integral to Samsung Printing’s innovative Smart UX Center, just like apps are an essential part of our smartphones. The Smart App Series embodies Samsung Printing’s commitment to continuous innovation by providing customized solutions that meet businesses’ needs. As the Smart UX Center is based on the Android platform, the most widely-used OS for internet usage in the world, it has opened doors to many new possibilities in the printing world for app developers.
For our sixth Tech Guru interview, we spoke to Hyungjong Kang, Principal Engineer of the Smart App part in the Solution Lab, who shared his stories of developing user-friendly, creative applications for the industry’s leading platform, the Smart UX Center. Kang also shared his insights regarding the future of the printing industry.
Since joining Samsung Electronics in 1998, Kang has been making contributions to the Printing Division for nearly 20 years. Kang is the original developer member of Samsung’s biggest solution technology, the Smart UX, and has been making UX and mobile applications (or apps) for the Smart UX platform since early 2014.
Meeting Customer Requirements with Agility and Interactive Communication
Samsung Printing Solution’s Solution Lab consists of four parts: Cloud, Server, PC, SmartUX & mobile Solutions. Our Tech Guru interviewee, Mr. Kang leads the Smart App part where the apps and widgets not only for Smart UX Center but also for mobile solutions are created.
For Kang, the most important factors in developing apps for the Smart UX are agility and interactivity.
With print firmware, a longer time is usually required to update, modify or add features, which often causes developers to take a more cautious and conservative approach. In contrast, for app development, once the basic design and direction is established, the developers can quickly launch the app in with its core functions first. Then the app can evolve as developers go through the interactive process of collecting and reflecting customer’s feedback, and modifying or adding features accordingly.
To better explain this agile process of app development, Kang shared his favorite quote from the movie The Martian (2015): “You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem…and you solve the next one…and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.” He believes the important thing is to first begin with the right concept, rather than being overwhelmed with creating a perfect solution from the beginning.
“The best thing about app development is the two-way communication with customers. The client is always thrilled to see their feedback reflected in the upgraded version,” says Kang. “The team holds one hour long group discussions every day, putting our heads together to find the best solutions, and working together to ensure we’re addressing all customer requests and needs.”
Simplifying Users’ Printing Experience Through Customization
So what is Kang’s favorite “killer app” in the Smart UX Center? He cites Dynamic Workflow, one of the most popular Smart UX Center apps, which allows users to create and customize workflows by making use of multiple apps. Dynamic Workflow organically links apps together, saving printing workflow preferences for each individual user. For example, you can create a work stream that scans a document, formats the file as a PDF, creates a copy and then sends that copy to someone all within one workform, so just by touching one button you will set all of the actions into motion. The app embodies the philosophy of creating a “smart office through customizing printing activities” that has been the basis of Smart UX Center development.
Customization is actually the Smart UX Center’s strongest characteristic, as users can download apps and widgets that best fit their printing and usage patterns. This is why Smart UX Center and its Smart UX Apps create such a powerful, user-friendly printing experience.
“I think of Dynamic Workflow as a playground, where a user can play with its functions according to their preferences. The concept of this app is similar to the open ecosystem of Smart UX Center,” said Kang. “It is also an app with incredible scalability, as you can easily integrate various apps and extend its functions. Your printer can automatically complete a series of tasks that tailors to your needs, making printing faster and easier for end-users. We have had fantastic feedback from customers for this app.”
Expanding the Ecosystem of the Smart UX Center
As was explained in our fifth Tech Guru interview, the key success factor for Smart UX Center and the App Center lies with its system-wide openness and third-party developer engagement.
The company has provided a Smart UX Software Development Kit (SDK), providing Android developers of all types with the means to create and distribute their own apps directly to Samsung Printing users. With the SDK, third-party developers can freely integrate print and scan apps, and easily bring their own apps to market.
“Before we rolled out Samsung SDK, only developers related to the printing industry were in contact with us. However, now developers of all kinds have begun sending us many inquiries about Smart UX App development. The Smart UX Center has truly expanded the global Android ecosystem,” said Kang.
Useful apps from outside the Smart UX Center ecosystem can also be tailored into Smart UX-friendly versions. Send Anywhere is an Android app that lets you transfer files between devices such as PCs and mobile phones and tablets. In 2015, after close cooperation with the original developers of the app, the Smart App part announced Send Anywhere for Printer, a version of the app for the Smart UX Center, which allows users to conveniently scan to any device, and print from any device with generating One time Password (OTP) for security. As Kang notes, any Android-based app can potentially be connected to the Smart UX Center and utilized to support document management and printing.
Strengthening Serviceability with User and Administrator-friendly Apps
When designing and developing Smart UX Apps, Kang and his team consider not only the end-users but also IT Admins who are in charge of security, printer maintenance and technical support. In a B2B environment where multiple users work off of one device, it is crucial to quickly respond to any problems that could cause delays in the overall work stream.
RemoteCall is a handy solution to this challenge, as Smart UX Center users can remotely connect their PCs. It is a paid servicing system app that connects you directly to a specialized agent. A Samsung agent remotely checks on your printer network and assists you in fixing the problem, regardless of time and place. The RemoteCall app has received positive feedback both in Korea and abroad, including large territories like the United States, where long distances can make it more difficult for technicians to quickly do onsite check-ups.
“This is an app that shows our commitment to service for our clients. With just an internet connection and RemoteCall, businesses can lower frustration levels and reduce onsite visits while still keeping the printer networks operational,” said Kang. “This also means added productivity, whether you are an administrator within the IT department or an end-user with no technical expertise.”
To enhance the better operation of its multi-function printers, the Smart App part have also developed user- and administer-friendly apps that can take actions on their own to save time and effort. For example, Smart Update automatically updates the UX software to the latest version whenever an upgrade is published, and Smart Color Management automatically corrects colors on printed output – both without any action required by administrators.
Smart UX Apps Create an Even More Connected Workplace
Samsung’s goal is to build an open and connected workplace, which allows users flexibility within the office and also to expand their printing experience to mobile devices.
In 2016, Samsung developed a launcher-type app called Smart UX Mobile, letting non-Smart UX Center owners enjoy the functions of the UX Center on low-cost conventional printers on their phones and tablets. With this increased openness, the connection between devices has become even more diverse. Smart UX Mobile is a truly open platform that will open new doors for creative printing solutions for mobile devices.
“We are on our way to creating a truly connected workplace, and the printer will be one of the stand-alone devices always in sync with your laptop, cloud services and mobile devices,” Kang envisions.
Amid the forecast for more connected workplace, Kang also emphasized the need for focus on app security. “Security is a core principle that we always keep in mind. While a mobile phone is a private device, MFPs are mostly used in business settings and are for public use. Data storage protection in the main platform and the apps must be secured,” he explained.
Developing Apps to Streamline the Workflow of Each Vertical Market
The Smart App part currently focuses on developing Smart UX apps specialized for vertical markets, including legal, healthcare and education sectors. The overall objective is to create an easy, simple workflow for each market.
Through a vertical connector, many steps that were required for PC-based scanning and printing works have been simplified or eliminated, which means that MFPs will play the part of stand-alone devices, rather than being peripheral to computers or laptops. This helps to maximize work efficiency for the customer.
Discussing the future of Samsung Printing and the industry, Kang said, “The Samsung team is continuously working to develop solutions that help businesses take the next step toward a new era of printing, where productivity can increase with little effort.”
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