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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  • jabber - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    The reason that Samsung make their phones from plastic isnt just a cost thing. They realised that people tend to drop their phones...a lot!

    Plastic holds up better to knocks and drops than glass or aluminium. Plus you can always swap your plastic battery cover for a new one if it gets damaged that badly.
  • doobydoo - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    Er, sorry but you're wrong. The SG3 fares far worse than the iPhone 5 in every drop test I've seen. Reply
  • Xyfaz87 - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Er, forget about the drop test... I dropped my s3 a lot, and still it is intact and no cracking no dent, only slight scratch, I don't use case also.

    I don't mind the design of s3, and the choice of plastic. For me I can use it comfortably with one hand, while for xperia Z it looks cool... But I found it awful to hold it for long time with one hand, the more angular design just not my taste.
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    It's not just you, anyone with a whit of experience knows sharper edges cut into the meaty part of your hands and fingers and joints, and can be quite painful rather quickly.
    That doesn't matter though, as the hoi polloi has been exactly trained to spew out ridiculous things like feel of build quality with their internal mental deficit ruling the scoring.
    Let them have their butt fugly rectumtangle and let it rip on their digits and give them arthritis as the cold metal and harsh glass guts their tendons.
    Since a rectangle with sharp edges and corners is as dumb as it gets, the dorks of the net decided "industrial design" was cool. Yes, it's cool, if you're a basement tard whose never seen the inside of a factory and wouldn't last 2 days in that harsh environment.
    Their phones are harsh, sharpened, health hazards, but it's okay the know it all parrots repeat and bleat on cue, no matter what they have ever personally experienced if anything.
    Stupid is stupid because stupid does stupid so well, the smartest nerds in the room. ( Cough)
  • ATBTCT - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    Er, actually you are wrong. All the drop tests I have seen of SG3 mostly show damage to the screen only and that is understandable considering that SG3 has a bigger screen compared to iPhone 5. Even if the plastic is damaged it doesn't cost much to change it. Whereas for iPhone and other aluminium clad phones, not only are they not durable as plastic but expensive to repair. And I rarely see expensive flagship without cases. The only ones I see are those that are made up of...................... plastic...I wonder why.............. Reply
  • Azurael - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    Here are some simple yes-or-no questions I would like answered regarding the S3.

    Brick bug? Y/N
    COMPLETE, WORKING Kernel Source & binaries provided Samsung? Y/N

    If this is like the SII/Note/S3/Note 2 in having buggy hardware, iffy patches and not even remotely GPL compliant 'developer relations' then they can shove that phone where the sun doesn't shine.

    I think it's quite cute that they managed to get A15s in there, I was seriously starting to wonder whether we'd even see A15 in a phone at 32/28nm, let alone a working quad. I can believe it'll only be running at 1.2GHz from what we've seen of A15s power consumption. It still looks as ugly and plasticky as everything else Samsung make too. In fact, it looks the same as the S3 to me, I'm not sure I could tell the difference aside from the larger screen if you put the pair in front of me. If you're going to charge £500 for a device, surely it should look like it cost that?
  • IKeelU - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    Agreed. Every Samsung I've handled works just fine, but feels/looks pretty cheap compared to anything by apple or htc (or even the N4, which feels incredible compared to its last two iterations). But a race to the bottom is what the market calls for - artistry and grace be damned. I can't fault Samsung for giving people just enough so they keep coming back. Reply
  • glugglug - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    So the release is in Q2. Would that be April 1? Because it kind of sounds too awesome to be true.

    Some of the features (i.e. eye scrolling) sound silly and probably are just battery draining annoyances, but you can turn them off.

    I'm hoping the S Translate is limited to translation only, and they didn't override the built-in Android 4.2.2 speech recognition which I've been using for awhile now. Non-cloud for good responsiveness, and the most accurate I've ever seen.
  • doobydoo - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    End of April basically. So you could probably get it mid May - 8 months after the release of the iPhone 5. Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    The one element that's *never* covered in any press release or preview is always the one I'm the most curious about: the DAC. I love my Wolfson DAC and having one in the S4 would be a big plus for it, but I've been unable to get any sort of information regarding this anywhere. Even Supercurio doesn't seem to know thus far.

    Anand, do you have any details or the ability to provide some in the near future?

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