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


View All Comments

  • WaltC - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Why list the PPI of every phone except the iPhone? Don't want to embarrass Apple? Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Sounds right, you know how that internal fanboyism filter works.
    Science and stats becomes the drooling monkey as soon as the perceived Politically Correct winner is about.
  • WaltC - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    Well, it's at least wonderful that we don't have to struggle through "Retina Display" comments as though the phrase meant something profound...;) I always preferred "Retsina Display" anyway. Reply
  • akdj - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    Why such hatred for Apple/iPhone in these comments? Seems to become more and MORE ubiquitous....regardless of Anand's reviews. I'm a fan of both--I'm an owner of a Galaxy Note and iPhone 5. This would make a helluva 'thesis' for a graduate student in Psychology/Psychiatry!!! LOL. Too many of you folks spend WAY too much time beating up iPhone users, Apple's design philosophy and/or the silly 'benchmarks' that truly mean nothing when compared to 'real world' experience. I'm excited for the GS4. I can't get rid of my OG GNote fast enough. It's buggy and slow as hell---but dicking around with the Note 2, I've noticed a significant improvement in UI 'speed' and overall usability. I suppose this is to be expected from a gen 1 device (My Note 1)---but Good Lord!!! It seems not a single page in these 18 of comments lack a bash or poke to the eye of the iPhone or their owners. Words like 'retarded' are pretty lame...and definitely reveal the intelligence of said posters. Plenty of folks are asking valid questions and add interesting information to the discussion---but again, Where is this 'hate' coming from? Is it envy? As an iOS and Android developer...as well as Windows and OSx everyday user...it kicks my ass that so many people HERE, on one of the MOST respected 'geek' sites on Al Gore's inter-webs are so damned insecure when it comes to Apple products. I just don't get it. There really, truly is absolutely NO need to even bring the iPhone into the discussion. Anand didn't---other than a single mention or two when it comes to design aesthetics. Along with HTC and the use of aluminum vs. plastics. I don't mind the plastic on my note--and I definitely appreciate the easy access to my SD storage and battery---but when it comes down to the nit 'n grit, I do prefer the solidity of aluminum/metal construction. As well---the MOST complained about 'feature' if you will of Sammy phones IS the construction (use of plastic). Again, I don't necessarily agree that being the most detrimental issue on Samsung mobile devices. I just find it ridiculous the extent some will go to in order to slam what Apple is doing! Quite over the top---especially considering Apple's contribution to Smart Phone technology (along with Samsung/Google) back in '07.
    **Rant Over**
  • WaltC - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    Feeling better?...;) Now, calm yourself and take a look at the table above entitled: "Smartphone Spec Comparison." If there's not an iPhone in there I'll eat my hat...;) Reply
  • frombauer - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    I would really like to see Samsung (or HTC) release a smaller version of these flagships. 5" is too big for me, give us the option to have a 4-4.3", quad-core, 2GB RAM, 720p phones! Reply
  • kascollet - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    A small high end phone pleeeeaaaase !
  • ATBTCT - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    Despite the 5 inch screen this phone is the same size as S3 and HTC ONE. Reply
  • Mugur - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Yes, most people failed to noticed that... :-). It's not the size of the screen, but the size of the phone, people. Also it is 11 mm wider and 13 mm taller than an iPhone 5. It's not the size of a ping-pong pallet... Reply
  • kascollet - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Yes, that's too big for me. Reply

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