Inside Intel: New Intel Apps Ease Multi-gadget Connections

Note from the blog editor:  A colleague, Linda, sent me this article because she was so excited about the interesting and challenging projects at Intel, especially in software. Her hope? The more you know about what softare at Intel is all about, the more you’ll be interested in exploring career opportunities here and adding to the excellence we refer to as Intel employees. Thanks to our guest blogger, Jeremy Schultz from Intel’s Internal Employee Communications team, you’ll discover how Intel is rolling out middleware for Windows PCs to enable cross-device connections. Our next challenge? Get software vendors to build apps using these new features! Despite the current economy, Intel continues to perform well and hire new talent.  Are you interested in a career opportunity in software? As part of our Intel Software Talent Network, you’ve taken the first steps in exploring your options

Unless you moonlight at Apple, Google, or Microsoft, you’ve likely got a mix of devices at home, maybe an Android phone, an iPad, a Windows notebook, and a box or three connected to your TV. With this sort of mix, it’s tough to share content from one device to another, requiring some messy combination of wires, drivers, memory cards, and proprietary or third-party cloud services.

What you may not know is that Intel is working to help make some of these devices work together and complement each other—centered on your Intel-powered PC, naturally—beyond any one company’s “walled garden.”

“It’s really hard to write apps to work across these,” says Curt Waltman of the PC Client Group, referring to Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Microsoft’s Windows.

Until now.

Intel middleware enables PC to gadget apps

Once connected, Intel Pair & Share moves photos from the phone to the PC in one easy tap.

Curt, director of the compute continuum in our PC Client Group (PCCG), and a team of PCCG software developers built what they call the Intel Common Connectivity Framework (CCF) for Windows-based PCs. The CCF is a type of middleware, which runs on top of the operating system and provides a simple and secure channel between devices for use by other applications. The basic idea of the CCF is to make sharing between devices touch-and-tap easy and unlock new usage scenarios across devices, such as:

  • Using your smartphone as a controller for a game running on your PC;
  • Scrolling through your favorite web pages on your PC using your phone or tablet’s screen as a big touchpad; or
  • Using your phone’s high-fidelity camera as a webcam for your PC.

Combining the PC’s big screen, computing horsepower, and large storage capacity with a mobile device’s sensors, touchscreen, and camera opens up all kinds of possibilities.

First Intel smartphone apps showcase possibilities

It will be up to software vendors to bring many of those scenarios to life, but to show off what’s possible, Intel built two apps that you can download and try out today: Intel Pair & Share, and the Intel TelePort Extender.

Pair & Share is a simple Windows program and an iOS or Android app that lets you wirelessly connect one or more phones or tablets to a PC and share pictures on the PC’s screen. When connected to the same wireless network, you open the app on each device, punch in the one-time code that appears on the PC screen, and voila, you’re connected. I tried it at home with my iPhone and my Intel-issued Thinkpad, and it works great.

And it’s not just me. Tech blog Addictive Tips tried Pair & Share and wrote that “both the desktop as well as the mobile client have an elegant design and are extremely simple to use.” So far, the app is averaging more than 4 out of 5 stars on both iTunes and the Android Market.

Set texting records with Android phone and your PC’s keyboard

TelePort Extender combines a Windows and Android app to bring your phone’s calling, texting, and contacts to your PC (Apple doesn’t expose these features to app developers, hence there’s no iOS equivalent today). If you left your Android phone in your bag or in another room and the phone rings, TelePort can show the caller ID on your PC screen. If you can’t get to your phone, you can listen to the voicemail and send a text back to the caller (or any other contact on your phone).

Send the speediest texts ever! You can even ring your phone if you forgot where you left it.

Patrick, an Intel employee who tried the app, is “loving the newly released Intel TelePort Extender.” . He only wishes he could use it at work, but both devices need to connect to the same Wi-Fi network.

Just like Pair & Share, Extender is averaging nearly four-star ratings on the Android Market.

I think I really need one of those slick Intel Smartphone Reference Designs to give Extender a try, but if you want to try both apps, there’s a nice page on Intel.com with links to all the installs and further detail. Both Windows applications are also available in the Intel AppUpSM center.

Next up: OEM preinstalls and lots more apps

Does all this mean that Intel is vying to become a big smartphone app developer? No, says Curt; the real objective for Pair & Share and TelePort Extender is to inspire independent software vendors (ISVs) to build their own apps using the CCF middleware.

That part of the job is handled by developer relations folks in the Mobile and Communications Group along with the Software and Services Group.  They are working now with a variety of mobile and PC software vendors to build and launch compelling new social and P2P applications including gaming, multi-media, and more on the CCF platform.

Meanwhile, PCCG is working with OEMs to get the CCF pre-installed on Ultrabooks and a variety of PCs (OEMs may include Pair & Share, TelePort Extender, or even build their own apps), giving those ISVs a broad reach for their apps. Acer is already shipping all-in-one PCs with Pair & Share installed, and more OEMs will follow suit through 2012. PCCG and MCG are working on the next rev of the framework, which will bring new features, services, and support for Windows 8 as well as other mobile application environments.”

Altogether, the efforts support Intel’s 2012 imperative to “establish the compute continuum framework and enable security, location, and media services across IA devices,” which CEO Paul Otellini shared at a recent open forum.