[SAN FRANCISCO] A start-up founded by two former Android executives wants to free smartphone users from worrying about how to fit another video or photo onto their devices.
Nextbit Systems Inc unveiled a smartphone called "Robin" on Tuesday that automatically manages file storage and backup to the cloud. Using software that works closely with Google Inc's Android operating system, Robin is designed to understand which files a user might want right away and which can be moved to the cloud. For example, an app for an airline that's accessed twice a year can be sent to the cloud to free up space for something else. And once the user needs the app again, it's easily retrieved without the need to reinstall it from the store or remember all the login information.
"In a way we can leverage the cloud to exceed the specs of your device," said Mike Chan, Nextbit's co-founder, who worked on several major Android releases. "We look at the system as a whole. We look at your usage patterns; we personalize this, really, for you."
Nextbit is betting that the global market, including the US, is ready for a new Android phone. In particular, the company is targeting consumers who don't want to ante up for high-end phones like the iPhone or the Samsung S6.
Still, Nextbit will face huge challenges in one of the most competitive markets in the world, with competitors ready to tweak software and hardware to woo more customers.
"There's a lot of things that can be done a lot better in terms of the software and experience," said Tom Moss, the company's other co-founder who was formerly in charge of business development at Android worldwide. "So we think both the OS and the devices are kind of stagnant."
The Robin is set to be widely available early next year for $399. The device includes some refined touches, such as a 13 megapixel rear camera with dual speakers and amplifiers. It also uses a fingerprint reader to activate the power button. The storage comes in at 32 gigabytes-but offers up to 100 gigabytes through the cloud service.