Samsung Adding Business Features to Tab 10.1

Samsung on Wednesday announced a software update for its Tab 10.1 tablet with a gaggle of business features, which could help the company push the device to corporate users.

The software update for the tablet, which runs on Google's Android 3.1 OS, includes security, workgroup and device management features to make the tablet relevant in business environments, said Gavin Kim, vice president for content and enterprise mobility at Samsung, at an event in New York. IT managers can control functions on the tablet, such as access to the Android Market and removal of hardware, while also bringing videoconferencing and real-time document sharing to the device.

However, the Tab's main target audience remains consumers, and the business features are complementary, Kim said. The software update also includes interface changes for quicker and easier access to applications and information from the Internet.

The software update brings Wi-Fi printing capabilities to Tab 10.1, reducing the need for drivers. The update also includes Cisco's WebEx videoconferencing and Polycom's unified communications applications.

The security features include support for Cisco VPN (virtual private network), which allows users to access corporate networks behind a firewall. The device management tools in the software update include Sybase Afaria, which can help control hardware and software and also deploy applications across Tabs within an IT environment in a uniform way.

New software features targeted at consumers include Live Panels, which are widgets placed on the front screen that display live information being fed from the Internet. The widgets are an overlay to a similar feature being offered by Google within Android, but Live Panels are visually more appealing, Kim said. The software update also includes a new taskbar feature that can list and shut down applications running on the tablet.

Samsung also wanted to improve the user experience in the Galaxy Tab, and fewer clicks will now be required to access key information, Kim said. Users can also switch between applications with fewer clicks or screen taps.

The company started pushing the update over-the-air to devices starting on Wednesday. Devices can be updated through the settings menu on the tablet.

Software can be key in making a tablet easy to use, and a simple user interface is one of the key reasons behind Apple's iPad success. Companies such as Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo and Asus offer tablets based on the Android OS with customized user interfaces.

The Samsung Tab 10.1 comes with a Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core ARM processor, 10.1-inch screen and up to 64GB of storage. The device weighs 565 grams (1.24 pounds) and provides around nine hours of video time on a single charge.

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