S Translator

Samsung is shipping its own cloud based translation app on the Galaxy S 4 called S Translator. Chinese, English (US/UK), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish languages are all supported at launch.

You can type or speak sentences to be translated and either read the translation or have your phone speak it. This functionality has been enabled by Google Translate for a while now, but turning it into a feature and making it very obvious on the Galaxy S 4 is a clear attempt to hit a broader audience.

Based on my limited experience with the translation, it seems like the bulk of the work is being done in the cloud. Samsung isn’t announcing what partner it’s using to do the actual translation at this point.

S Translator is also supported in the Email and ChatON apps.

Group Play

The Galaxy S 4 supports wireless streaming of music to up to 8 other SGS4 devices with a feature called Group Play. What Group Play does is allows you to wirelessly tether multiple SGS4s together to all play the exact same song. The idea is to leverage multiple devices to fill a room up with audio.

It’s not clear what application/DRM limitations exist here, but I can see this being the new tap-to-share for encouraging groups of friends to all buy Galaxy S 4s.

Air View & Air Gesture

With the Galaxy Note series of devices, Samsung enabled hover support with the S Pen. Holding the S Pen above the screen would enable you to preview video, peek at the contents of an email, etc... With the Galaxy S 4, Samsung enables the same functionality - but without the S Pen. It’s called Air View.

Through some clever tuning of the capacitive touch stack, the Galaxy S 4 is able to sense the presence of your finger up to about a centimeter away from the display. Air View works in Samsung’s web browser as a magnifying lens or to trigger a preview of open tabs. It also works in the email and gallery apps as well. Update: You can also use the SGS4 with gloves on, similar to Nokia's Lumia 920.

The Galaxy S 4 also supports Air Gesture, which leverages the IR gesture sensor to enable large hand gestures for UI control. You can swipe your hand in front of the smartphone to switch songs, move between tabs in the web browser, or scroll up and down a web page. You can also use Air Gesture to answer a call, which Samsung views as a good solution for SGS4 owners that have their smartphone in a car dock while driving.

Smart Pause & Smart Scroll

With the Galaxy S 3 Samsung introduced Smart Stay, another feature that leveraged the front facing camera to detect when you’re facing the smartphone and keep the screen on as a result. With the Galaxy S 4, Samsung expands the use of the front facing camera to enable pausing/unpausing of video playback depending on whether or not you’re looking at the display, and enabling tilt to scroll if the camera detects that you’re looking at it.

I tested both features and they seemed to work intermittently, although I’m not a fan of making judgement calls on software until final builds are available.

All of these gesture and camera based user interface features can be enabled/disabled, many on a per application basis but at minimum on a global level. Samsung does have a good amount of control/granularity in the SGS4 software for these features.

Samsung Optical Reader

The SGS4 will ship with some form of optical character recognition, allowing you to scan business cards and automatically populate your contact list with elements from the card. The Samsung Optical Reader app also supports reading QR codes.

S Health

The final new software feature of the Galaxy S 4 is called S Health. S Health includes support for an integrated pedometer, temperature and humidity sensors in the SGS4. The S Health app is supposed to be able to track distance traveled and give you local identification of current temperature and humidity. The app also includes the ability to act as a meal tracker, just look up foods you’ve eaten and it’ll keep a running tally of calories consumed. The S Health app and functionality is a clear attempt to integrate 3rd party pedometer hardware and apps into the phone itself - an obvious next step for any vertically integrated smartphone manufacturer.

Samsung will offer a line of Bluetooth health accessories that can interface with S Health, including a wrist band pedometer (S Band) so you can leave your SGS4 at home when you go for a walk/run, weight scale and heart rate monitor.

The S View Cover

Samsung will also have a new first party cover for the Galaxy S 4 called the S View Cover. This is a standard flip cover but with a small window cut out of the front of it. When the SGS4 detects that the cover is closed, it’ll display a small rectangle of information on its display (visible through the cutout in the cover). In this mode the display will give you the current time, battery/SMS/music status, caller ID and the ability to accept/reject calls. The S View Cover is a pretty neat offering from Samsung and one I see being very popular with anyone who used a flip cover with Samsung’s phones in the past.

Camera Software & Hands On Video Final Words
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  • leexgx - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    none removable battery's are just no good if they do not use an 3000 or higher in the first place, the HTC One X is what a phone should not be (dead in 2-3 hours of screen on time, its dead in the day, i sold that phone in less then an month), they do tend to get bit iffy after 1-3 years (1.7 years been the avg as they expect you to upgrade your phone)

    tablets idly should be 3500 or bigger, but the Note2 seems to get by with the one it has (3300 i think)
    Reply
  • Mihael Keehl - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link

    It depends on how much you charge them/over charger them. I have had the Apple iPhone 4S for a little over a year now and it's got about a solid 15% wear on it now, it'll probably be double that in another year and that's when my contract is up. Prior to that I had the Samsung and I couldn't deal with the battery issues it had, because it burned through the battery much faster. A swappable battery does have it's perks because 5%-10% wear isn't all that bad, but when it reaches over that and you're only using your phone 15%-20% less, you're essentially not getting what you paid for.

    A replaceable battery is exactly what the product needs, especially the ones whose screens are so enormous and bright. That shit will drain battery life and rather quickly.
    Reply
  • kcsween - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    I agree, I've never had a battery die on me within a year, never. Reply
  • new-paradigm - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - link

    You can't change battery mid call though. You can however plug in an emergency charger. Reply
  • ATBTCT - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    Which you can go on Galaxy s4........ Reply
  • RyuberUser - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    Removable batteries are a cheap and effective way to power a phone. Me and my wife have the same phone (GS2), so when we go traveling on long trips we can just switch out batteries, and ridiculous amounts of media as needed. It's super convenient. Also, the weight of 2 extra batteries is still lighter than an emergency charger. and yes, the phone is off for less than 30 seconds. less wait time than most traffic lights... best features in any phone, as stated above, is the removable battery and expandable memory. Reply
  • Cobraflight - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    For you, maybe it's "massively overstated". For others, like me, it's important. How do I know it's important? Because I use my current phone with multiple batteries, and find it to be very useful to be able to carry one or more extra batteries in my pocket, and swap them out if the phone runs low. Your mileage may vary. If one phone satisfied everyone, there wouldn't be 100s of different phones out there. Reply
  • semo - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    It's Android. It needs regular restarting anyway! I find that Google Navigator crashes if you've used it more than once or twice between restarts.

    Whatever your use, I think a removable battery is important. I also like high quality plastics instead of metal on mobile devices and expandable memory. I hate the size though and prefer 4" to 4.5" screens instead.
    Reply
  • ATBTCT - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    You people are bitching about having choices....You can external charger and USB OTG on this phone too. About the size, all I can say is that this phone is the same size as HTC ONE but with bigger screen. Those bezels can still be made smaller though, so manufacturers can fit bigger and bigger screen into smaller phones. Reply
  • ofladrt - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    I put a Gorilla Gadgets 4500 mAh battery with extended battery cover on my S3 and it lasts for two days easily, including using it as a golf course gps for 18 holes with long screen times. I would never go back to an ordinary battery. Reply

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