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

  • WritersBlock - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    For you it's not worth, for others it is.

    You guys are arguing the equivalent of favourite colour; it's subjective.

    Samsung (like any other manufacturer) offer features in their products; each user decides which are benefits and which are features they don't need.
  • Tams80 - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    Maybe I'm just not that popular, but at worst 5 minutes restarting my phone hardly makes a difference. Reply
  • treesloth - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    The ones that are plug-and-use without cables are also of pretty short duration. The larger ones require a cable. A replaceable battery, though, restores the phone to 100% very quickly. Over the time I've had my Evo 3D, I've swapped batteries a couple of hundred times (lots of travel...) with no problems. No "sign in" or whatever you mean by that. If I happen to miss a call in the 2 minutes it takes to swap and restart, I get told as soon as it's done. Same with messages. Seriously, it's not difficult at all. I also have an 8,100 mAh portable charger. Love that, too. Both have their place. Reply
  • Relaxin - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    I bike commute everywhere and not around a charger as often as I'd like. If I'm stranded somewhere with a dead battery I NEED to be able to swap in a charged spare battery. I think it's massively "understated" how beneficial a removable battery is. Reply
  • puremind - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    You shouldn't have to use a dock to do that!? How outdated? spare batteries nowadays can be charged while they are charging your phone...MicroUSB to recharge and USB to charge your smartphone. External battery is more convenient than 2 internal batteries, let alone it has bigger capacity allowing you to charge up your phone several times. A must-have! Reply
  • HJPJ - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    I currently use an S2, and will be upgrading to the S4. If the S4 did not have a replaceable battery, that would have been a deal breaker for me. For my S2, I purchased two extended batteries (3400mAh) plus an external charger for them, from aliexpress.com - total cost: just a hair over $20, including shipping. I will be trying to duplicate this setup for my new S4. Reply
  • twurster - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Blackberry figured this one out. the spare battery for the Z10 comes in a case with a micro usb in and out. Plug in the case to the wall and the phone to the case. Presto 2 charged batteries. The bonus being the spare doubles as micro usb power source and you can charge up with out removing the battery. From experience it takes about 2 minutes to swap from start to back online. And the price is reasonable at 50.00. I use this on my Z10 all the time and functionally have unlimited battery life. Now if I could just get a few more apps.... Reply
  • leexgx - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    that's nice to know that they have done that with the new blackberry z10, as 3g is an killer on all phones i have used (i am still an blackberry buff) Reply
  • puremind - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Wake up, this is 2013. There are better solution nowadays than removable batteries and MicroSD!!
    1. why would you want an inferior sized internal battery that requires you to open your device? As a customer I expect my batteries to be pluggable without having to open my device! Besides I expect spare batteries to have larger capacity than the internal battery. I can get that with a small battery coupled with microUSB to USB cable (the battery has a MicroUSB plug for input and a USB plug for output - simple!)
    2. Likewise, nowadays storage is key. Just like I don't want to use floppy disks on my laptops anymore, I don't want to use MicroSD on my Smartphone! It has too low capacity. As a customer, I don't think I should have to use outdated storage technology. I much prefer MicroUSB OTG 128GB Flash Drive. It is fast and has bigger capacity.

    The same USB to MicroUSB can be used to plug both the external battery and the Flashdrive! Both are extremely small devices and offer much more capacity than the traditional methods. I could not see myself go back to smaller storage or smaller battery sizes, so thank you Apple and HTC for moving away from outdated standards. It is human nature to cry when something is taken from them, but what we receive in exchange goes far beyond what we had previously!
  • Alexstarfire - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Comparing internal devices to external devices is silly. It's like comparing laptops to desktops, or even all-in-ones. They simply serve different purposes.

    For what you can get for microSD and internal phone batteries I don't quite know why you are bashing it so hard.

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