Samsung unveils rugged enterprise device with programmable PTT button, integration with Microsoft Teams
Samsung this week introduced the Galaxy XCover Pro, a rugged smartphone for enterprise “frontline” employees that features programmable buttons that can be used to support push-to-talk (PTT) communication, including integration with the new “Walkie Talkie” capability in Microsoft Teams.
Chris Briglin, Samsung Electronics America’s director of enterprise mobile product marketing, said Samsung hopes the XCover Pro’s flexible capabilities can change the device landscape for many enterprises that traditionally have relied on single-purpose devices—often shared between multiple users—to execute key operations.
“The challenge today is that, on one hand, you have traditional, single-purpose, shared devices that tend to be too thick or too heavy or too expensive—or their screens are too small—and they really aren’t flexible enough, in terms of the productivity experience,” Briglin said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “On the other end of the spectrum, there are consumer devices in rugged cases. Those really don’t survive the environments where most frontline workers operate.
“So, we think there is a huge gap in the marketplace. In fact, only one in four frontline workers carry a corporate-issued mobile device. We’ve design the XCover Pro to address those needs.”
Indeed, the Galaxy XCover Pro is designed to provide enterprises with a cost-effective alternative to land-mobile-radio (LMR) devices for voice communications, scanners for supporting inventory and point-of-sale payment operations, as well as enabling the use of typical smartphone applications, Briglin said. With the XCover Pro, all of these functions can be performed on a single device that costs as much as a mid-tier smartphone—$499.99 when the XCover Pro is scheduled to be commercially available on the Verizon network during the first half of this year.
“[Enterprises] have been using these single-purpose [devices],” Briglin said. “Either they’re only voice devices, in the sense that they’re push-to-talk land mobile radio or walkie-talkies within a store, and then they have to carry a separate scanner and a mobile phone to access applications to complete the sale or research products.
“We see [the XCover Pro] as multi-purpose. Yes, it can make a phone call, but it also has a big screen, where you can have applications on it that enable you to get work done. And it has those [programmable] buttons that enable you to open those applications quickly to do push-to-talk capabilities or scanning capabilities. We’re also working with third-party vendors to have scanning accessories, point-of-sale accessories, charging accessories and hand straps, so all of that will be ready when this launches.”
DJ Koh, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics’ IT & Mobile Communications division, echoed this sentiment.
“The Galaxy XCover Pro is a reflection of Samsung’s increased investment and commitment to the B2B market,” Koh said in a prepared statement. “We believe the business mobility market is ripe for transformation in 2020, and we intend to be the leader in pioneering an open and collaborative mobile platform for the next generation of the digitally-enabled workforce.”
Key functionality features of the XCover Pro include the two programmable buttons—one on the side of the device, and the other on the top—that enable quick access to frequently-used applications. Push-to-talk (PTT) applications are expected to be one of more popular uses for these buttons, especially because the XCover Pro has integrated the “Walkie Talkie” function that was announced this week on the Microsoft Teams collaboration platform.
“Microsoft and Samsung have a deep history of bringing together the best hardware and software to help solve our customers’ challenges,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a prepared statement. “The powerful combination of Microsoft Teams and the new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro builds on this partnership and will provide firstline workers everywhere with the technology they need to be more collaborative, productive and secure.”
In the retail space, a programmable button could be used to enable scanning capabilities or point-of-sale payments powered by the XCover Pro’s near-field-communications (NFC) chip, according to Briglin.
“You can take payments on this device, without having to have an additional accessory,” he said.
Applications are easily viewed on the XCover Pro’s 6.3-inch edge-to-edge display, which is designed to be seen even in bright sunlight, Briglin said.
Such capabilities are impressive, but they are only helpful if users can access and execute them in the sometimes-difficult environments faced by enterprise frontline workers. With this in mind, the XCover Pro is IP68 rated, certified for MIL-STD-810G and can withstand a drop from 1.2 meters, according to Briglin.
Briglin said the Gorilla Glass 5 display not only is tough, but it has an enhanced-touch capability that is expected to appeal to enterprise users who wear gloves on the job.
“You can set the device to Glove Mode and use the device when you have gloves on, which is great if you’re in a healthcare situation or if you’re working a cold environment,” Briglin said.
Applications and data are protected with the Samsung Knox security platform.
Designed for enterprise use, the Galaxy XCover Pro should not be confused with the Galaxy XCover Field Pro, Samsung’s rugged smartphone that is designed for public-safety users. Scheduled to be released during the first quarter of this year, the XCover Field Pro is more rugged that the XCover Pro and has a more powerful processor that is designed to support mission-critical-push-to-talk (MCPTT) functional, including proximity services (Pro Se) that enables direct-mode communications, Briglin said. The XCover Field Pro also will have hard keys that are designed to be used by first-responder personnel wearing heavier gloves.
With its enhanced feature set, the XCover Field Pro device is expected to cost about $1,100 when it hits the market—more than double the price of the XCover Pro.