‘s unfocused developer conference shows its G5 ‘Friends’ initiative is a mess

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 18 Apr 2016

Most developers conferences are minor marketing ploys to get coders to drink the company’s Kool-Aid. I attended ’s developers conference expecting that I’d at least learn a bit more about what the company is attempting to do with the G5’s modular abilities its variety of Friends. Instead, the event offered more evidence of what we felt about the phone in our review: That is hurriedly trying all kinds of stuff without any clear focus or direction. 

Too much cy, not enough coating

The first thing I noticed walking into the space where the developer’s conference was held were the various bowls filled to the brim with bite-sized cy of all sorts. They were placed around the event hall as an homage to the “life is good when you play more” message that ’s been particularly focused on honing in since it introduced this concept of Friends. 


st like this, every table had cy strewn about. 

My appreciation for free cy—free anything, really—knows no bounds, but I couldn’t help but wonder how bowls of colorful ffy Taffy pieces would help inspire me if I were a developer. at is it exactly that wants its developers to do? Make modular tennis rackets beach balls? That part was never made explicitly clear.

There were also booths abound offering developers the ability to test out ’s various Friends, including the 360 VR, 360 Cam, the Rolling Bot, as well as the Smart Controller, which lets you use the G5 to control a rrot drone. However, developers seemed more interested in the drone it was piloting than the remote itself. 

The only criteria for making a module is to make one

I’m still having difficulty understing what expects out of its developers, even after speaking with Dr. Ram-chan o, ’s Vice esident of Smartphone oduct anning. ’s message on stage seemed to be that the only criteria necessary for developing a module is to conjure something that’s easy enough for your mom to use—seriously.

“ want to work together with developers for evaluation, we will help you make a prototype,” Dr. o said on stage. “If anyone wants to make hardware like this, we really want to help you make something like this.”

It’s great that is welcoming developers with open arms, but it doesn’t exactly provide a starting point, nor will it help steer development for the G5 in a particular direction. That’s problematic, that’s how marketing becomes muddled ends up confusing the consumer. It would have been more helpful for to offer up some ideas of how it sees the G5’s modular abilities put to work in the real world rather than releasing code to the developing public with hopes that they’ll be inspired on their own.

is still figuring out its role in virtual reality


“A history of what our competitors have done with VR.” 

spent way too much time talking about what its competitors are doing with virtual reality not nearly enough time convincing developers of why they should create content to work with ’s VR 360 viewer. bert Yonghahk rk, Research Engineer at , ran the presentation. He is regarded as a virtual reality evangelist within the company, which was made especially apparent after his many slides detailing what other companies have done in this space.


Do you agree with rk’s display resolution predictions?

rk’s presentation spent a majority of the time making sweeping predictions about display resolutions. They were insightful, though not particularly extraordinary enough to document. I would have rather seen something along the lines of what Samsung offers, like a session on how to implement existing developer tools to create content that works with the VR 360 headset.

It’s all so confusing

’s developers conference wasn’t a total wash for those who were actually in attendance to learn. There was a relatively informative session on how to create a camera control application that works with the 360 Cam, as well as a session on how to take advantage of ’s Open Spherical Camera A. But beyond that, I mostly witnessed a string of detached sessions, none of which offered any explanation for why the Friends or the modules are worth developing for. As a consumer, I still don’t underst why they’re worth buying either.

I sincerely hope will succeed in inspiring developers to leverage this newly created ecosystem of companion devices device modules so that it continue to inspire innovation among its competitors. But without the justification for how or why to use any of these gadgets in your daily life, the concept is as good as DOA.