HTC opens new software unit, releases Zoe video app for rival Android hardware

HTC opens up a new door to the software business with Zoe for all Android devices.

2014-08-13 10.28.24 am
Zoe for HTC One M8 on Google Play. Image: HTC

Taiwanese handset maker HTC has revealed plans to make its HTC exclusive video highlights software Zoe available to third-party Android devices, following the creation of a new unit dedicated to software.

According to Drew Bamford, HTC's user interface lead, the release of the Zoe beta for all Android devices is "imminent".

Zoe has been included exclusively on HTC devices as a kind of storytelling app, which allows users to add a track to stills and video captured with a HTC smartphone, similar to BlackBerry's Story Maker.

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The new Zoe version open to all Android devices comes from a quietly-formed group known as HTC Creative Labs and headed by Bamford, according to Re/Code.

The unit's first and only app currently on Google Play is Zoe for HTC One M8, published back in March.

The idea behind making Zoe available to other devices is to recast it as a viewing and sharing content hub, which HTC is hoping to build a community around. It's not clear yet whether it will also develop the app for Windows Phone devices, such as its HTC 8X, or iOS. "We're excited to bring Zoe to a bigger audience on Android 4.4 this week and will be working on expanding the community in the future," a spokeswoman for HTC said.

At the launch of the HTC's newest flagship, the HTC One M8 , the company flagged up that Zoe was becoming a cloud-based service, designed to let friends see and share content, with a new Zoe app scheduled for release on Google Play at some stage in the summer. 

Opening up an exclusive software feature to owners of Samsung and LG devices might help expose HTC to new users, and may even spawn a new software business for the company. However, it also poses the risk also of losing a way for HTC to differentiate itself from rivals. Despite this, Bamford said there hasn't been much resistance within the company to opening up the software to other hardware.

Bamford told Re/Code that HTC Creative Labs is working on other software projects but didn't provide further detail on what products.

Although another piece of HTC software expected to be released to other hardware soon is the HTC BlinkFeed social reader that's currently tied to its Sense UI. At its HTC One M8 launch, the company said it would release that for other Android devices "soon".

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