Samsung parachuting itself into the smartphone AI wars is a twist that’s both unexpected and exciting in equal measure. Why? Because the company’s new tech could solve the main problem with Galaxy phones: feature bloat.
I have written for years that Samsung’s flagship phones are so packed with features and possibilities that it feels like you need a qualification to fully make use of them. Few things give me FOMO like reviewing a Galaxy S handset because I know somewhere deep in the settings menu there’s an optimization, or feature, that I have missed.
Innovative features are obviously, ultimately, a good thing. They are the culmination of years of feature development and software refinement. It’s not just Samsung that struggles with this, it applies to most smartphone manufacturers but Samsung has long been the industry’s de facto innovator (remember the Galaxy S5’s “smart pause” trick that paused videos if you looked away from the screen?).
Because of that, Samsung phones do feel heavy with features and laden with possibilities that will never be explored by most users.
But the company’s AI announcements in recent weeks shows that it is aware of this and has a solution in sight. Look at the language of this recent release about a new translation feature for phone calls that will likely debut in the Galaxy S24.
“AI Live Translate Call will soon give users with the latest Galaxy AI phone a personal translator whenever they need it. Because it’s integrated into the native call feature, the hassle of having to use third-party apps is gone.” The press release states.
Samsung clearly wants to make it plain that the new call tool won’t be another unused app, aimlessly shambling around in feature Purgatory, because it’s baked right into the phone app.
The hints don’t end there. At the announcement of its new generative AI model, Samsung Gauss, the company said that it plans “ to apply generative AI to core functions used by customers daily”. Talking about its forthcoming AI products, a Samsung news release mentions putting AI “in all the places it matters most.”
Of course this is all a bit vague, but the Live Translate Call feature is a window into the company’s plans for its AI pivot—baked-in skills that don’t add to the already bloated feature-list. If that’s the case, it’s a much needed tonic for the Galaxy smartphone line.
How else could AI solve Samsung’s feature bloat problem? Perhaps it will recognize when users are trying to take a hands-free selfie and offer a shutter countdown. Or, the Galaxy S24 will learn what apps, pictures and documents you like to store in your Secure Folder and move future files there automatically. Perhaps the AI could make use of its text-to-image generation abilities to quickly make phone wallpapers, so you don’t have to scan through thousands of duds to find the right fit.
Samsung has uniquely feature-rich phones, which should be praised. But it places the responsibility on users to figure it all out. If the Korean company does go down this route and leans on AI to make the life of Galaxy users simpler, it will be major step towards the “it just works” category that Apple dominates right now.
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