Hardware manufacturers are building more software than ever before. Chip maker Marvell, for example, plans to launch Kinoma, a software platform complete with apps that can give people a consistent user experience across multiple apps—and even devices.
“The motivation is that hardware is not just a chip anymore,” says Peter Hoddie, vice president of the Kinoma platform at Marvell. Hoddie ran Kinoma before Marvell acquired it, and he is overseeing the launch of the new version of the software. “People making hardware are expected to deliver a lot of software,” he says, because to deliver plenty of features on a low-powered system like a phone, the close integration of software and hardware can really help.
Kinoma Play, a product built on the Kinoma platform, is designed to demonstrate Kinoma’s power and provide a starting place for developers who want to extend the platform further. The software can function as the center of a user’s interaction with a device, and it comes loaded with more than 50 apps built by Kinoma. (It can also incorporate apps from third-party developers.)
But Hoddie says that what sets Kinoma Play apart is the care its developers took to tie apps together and give users a consistent, high-performance experience regardless of what they’re using the phone for. “It’s a different take on how apps behave,” he says. “We have a world where the apps are cooperating and combining with each other.”
For example, Kinoma Play includes a photo viewer that scrolls smoothly through hundreds of pictures, loads images at full resolution, and allows users to zoom in deep with the touch of a finger. When another app calls for viewing photos, the platform is designed to tie into that photo viewer so the user can retain Kinoma Play’s look and controls.
Other features of Kinoma Play more explicitly pull apps together. If a user searches for “Nirvana,” for example, the results will come not just from Google but also from other apps the user has downloaded, such as Twitter, YouTube, Pandora, and Wikipedia.
Hoddie notes that these features will run even more smoothly when the company finishes integrating the Kinoma platform with Marvell’s hardware.