Last year when Apple announced Sidecar for macOS and iPad OS, there were a lot of questions as to when Android OEMs would eventually copy the idea. The idea of using a tablet as a second display for a computer just makes sense. A little over a year after Apple released Sidecar, it seems like Samsung is planning on its own rendition, possibly by the end of 2020.
This feature, which people close to Samsung tell us is a project known as “Sidekick,” could roll out to the Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7+ later this year. Sidekick will support S Pen input from the tablet to Active Pen on the computer. This means you could use your Samsung tablet as a digital stylus for your Windows PC. We are told that Sidekick should support different pressure levels and orientations as well, and would work like an Active Pen on supported Windows laptops and tablets, utilizing the Tab S7 and S7+’s built-in Wacom digitizers.
On MacOS, Sidecar allows the owner of an Apple computer like a MacBook to connect to an external device like an iPad Pro and use it as an extended touchscreen monitor, or a stylus-enabled display with the Apple Pencil. This enables use cases for MacOS owners that would previously require costly external hardware like Wacom tablets. Similarly, Samsung’s Sidekick would in theory allow the owner of a Windows laptop or desktop PC to connect their Galaxy Tab S7 and use it as an extended display or drawing surface, effectively bringing desktop-class software like Adobe Illustrator to an Android tablet with full built-in stylus support. It’s easy to see how this would be a powerful combination.
Android tablets have a longstanding image problem, with lackluster support for dedicated tablet app interfaces, and there’s been little help from Google in recent years to try and correct the situation. Support for more serious productivity software, in particular, has been a key pain point. While Samsung’s Sidekick feature would address this in a much more indirect way, it could very well be the most important feature to come to an Android tablet in years.
Unfortunately, the people could not confirm or deny the connection method being used to link the PC and tablet, though my guess is either Wi-Fi or USB-C. This source was also unsure if this feature would be part of Microsoft and Samsung’s existing software partnership, or a standalone effort being undertaken by Samsung.
This feature does seem to make a lot of sense. It’s something that, after using it on my iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, feels like it should have been done ages ago. There are a few third-party apps like Duet that work well for this, but nothing is as good as a first-party feature. It’s good to see Samsung working on this, maybe making the Tab S7 a compelling Android tablet, if that’s possible.