A few weeks ago, we talked about the Good Lock app and the fact that Samsung has yet to make it available worldwide, even though certain Good Lock features — like Bixby Routines — have become a part of the standard One UI experience over time.
Good Lock is an experimental platform that can enrich One UI with new features and in-depth customization options through Good Lock “modules.” It also serves as a way for Samsung to gain customer feedback on experimental features that may later become a part of the standard One UI experience, but unfortunately, Good Lock is only available in a little over a dozen countries.
And Good Lock isn’t the only experimental platform that Samsung is keeping away from a large portion of its customers. SmartThings Labs is another, and it’s unavailable outside of the USA and South Korea, leaving many Samsung customers without the option of contributing to the platform’s evolution.
But first, a quick overview of SmartThings Labs and its true purpose
SmartThings Labs was added to the SmartThings app in South Korea and the USA at the beginning of 2021. It’s an experimental feature that can be accessed through the SmartThings app in these regions and offers various automations for IoT devices.
These automations can be used to create universal remote controls, program parameters for smart lights, turn a smartphone into a keyboard for a TV, and more. Even the Galaxy Upcycle program was released under SmartThings Labs, thus limiting its potential (though it is available in the UK as well as the USA and South Korea).
As for the purpose of SmartThings Labs, it’s similar to Good Lock, in that it allows Samsung’s engineers to gain valuable customer feedback on these experimental features before they decide whether or not they’re fit to join the widely available SmartThings app.
And therein lies the problem, I believe
Countless SmartThings users all over the world don’t have a say in which SmartThings Labs automations should be added to the public app. They can use SmartThings, but the Labs section is region-locked and won’t show up inside the very app that they use to control IoT devices every day.
Keep in mind that, unlike Good Lock, the SmartThings app isn’t limited to Samsung’s proprietary One UI software. It’s not even limited to Android OS since it’s also available for iOS and Windows 10 devices. The app is available worldwide, yet Samsung’s engineers only gather feedback from customers in South Korea and the USA. The rest of the world can’t experiment with SmartThings Labs automations and can’t decide what experimental features should become a part of the standard SmartThings experience.
This seems counter-productive for Samsung. One would imagine that gaining feedback from more customers in more markets would improve the selection process. Then again, it can be argued that more testers could lead to Samsung’s resources stretching thin, slowing down development.
But regardless of these consequences, the present situation feels unfair to countless SmartThings customers worldwide who want to contribute to the platform’s future. Same with Good Lock users. And I’m hoping that Samsung will soon allow more people in other markets to access these platforms, provide feedback, and help shape their development.
On the other hand, Good Lock has been around for five years and it has yet to be released worldwide, so there’s no telling how Samsung will treat SmartThings Labs in regards to availability. Maybe we’ll get lucky, or perhaps we’ll be waiting for Good Lock and Labs to reach more markets another half a decade from now.