Samsung outlines bada 2.0 plans

Samsung has unveiled its plans for the next generation release of its home-brew smartphone OS 'bada,' which will include full multi-tasking, an improved user experience, a rewritten SDK, and support for the current hot-button topic in the industry: Near Field Communications.

While bada is far from a runaway success, even in markets such as Korea where the company has pushed its bada-powered Wave handsets, it offers an impressive feature set that can rival market leaders such as Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

Sadly, the platform currently lacks developers - meaning it doesn't have the ecosystem of third party apps that rival mobile platforms enjoy.

That's clearly the driving force behind much of Samsung's planned work on bada 2.0, unveiled as part of the company's developer day in Seoul earlier this month. A vastly improved software development kit lies at the heart of the platform, offering an in-built code analyser, performance analyser, live emulator, and a much faster simulator for both Mac and Linux platforms - although, interestingly, there's no mention of Windows support.

The company is also putting its weight behind the use of open standards to tempt developers away from Android, iOS, and Research in Motion's upcoming QNX-based platforms, offering support for OpenAL as well as standard C and C++, plus HTML5 for hybrid web programming.

From an end-user perspective, bada 2.0 will bring a more polished experience, with animations, the ability to personalise the user interface to a far greater extent than current implementations, and a 'smart' home screen with customisable layout.

Not wanting to fall behind in the technology stakes, Samsung has also confirmed that bada 2.0 will be getting support for Near Field Communications, or NFC, technology - the same functionality as Google has added to Android 2.3 and built in to its Nexus S smartphone, and as is tipped to appear in Apple's iPhone 5 next year. Clearly, NFC, which allows for contactless payment in the same way as an Oystercard or for the instant downloading of information from adverts and posters with the wave of your handset, is set to explode in 2011.

It's not just NFC that Samsung has tipped as the next big thing in the mobile world, either: 'lifelogging,' where audio and video are recorded for every moment of a person's life, BlackBerry-style push notifications, and speech recognition are all said to be included in the new bada platform.

While Samsung admits that bada uptake hasn't been stellar, the company has managed to sell five million Wave handsets in 2010 - and predicts a doubling of that in the first half of next year. Sadly, the company hasn't confirmed when the first bada 2.0-powered devices will be appearing, beyond promising that the replacement for the bada 1.2-powered Wave II will include the updated OS.