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How Kinoma Play’s Smartphone Interface Makes Multitasking More Extreme (and Maybe Even More Fun)

Zoom, rotate, flip, browse, listen, watch, work, play–the new smartphone and tablet interface by Marvell lets you do all that. And more.

Marvell Kinoma Play

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Marvell, (not to be confused with Marvel), today introduced Kinoma, a software platform for mobile devices and more–everything from “smart appliances” to “smart furnishings”. Marvell, whose previous ventures into the mobile market were mostly limited to chips, has debuted Kinoma Play, a dynamic user interface for smartphones and tablets. Kinoma allows a kind of flexibility not seen on other interfaces–one-touch zooming on photos, for example, and continuous play of movies while browsing other apps.

“Fast. Open. Beautiful,” goes the tagline of a new promotional video. And we’d agree with all three. The first two are simple facts: Kinoma Play loads a five megapixel photo in under a second–about a third of the time it takes other software to do so. The software is open-source, to encourage adoption, and Marvell provides two software development kits to help out app developers and hardware manufacturers in adding to and customizing Kinoma.

As for “beautiful,” Kinoma does look elegant, judging by the videos that are floating around. It breaks some of the rigid barriers imposed by an iPhone, for instance. You can have anything–a photo, a file–on your homescreen, not just apps; you can rotate photos 90 or 180 degrees with a simple gesture; and when you turn the phone to landscape mode, everything turns, no matter what app you’re in.

VentureBeat sat down with Peter Hoddie, vice president of Kinoma, who gave a nice walkthrough of the interface. Marvell acquired Kinoma and its 12-person staff just a month or so ago. Check out the photo zooming and rotating, as well as the new multi-tasking extremes the interface enables. Who knew you could bring the reading-a-magazine-while-watching-a-movie experience to smartphones?

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“Marvell is a hardware company that sees what software means,” Hoddie told VentureBeat.

Marvell has also been on our radar screen for a while now. The kooky visionaries there have foreseen an era of ultra-small plug-in computers, for instance, and recently announced a $100,000 prize for educational app developers.

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About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.

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