If you listen to me on All About Android or Material, you know I’m not the intended demographic for this week’s Samsung news. Although the idea of a foldable phone sounds like a worthy utility in this era of seemingly-stalled innovation, part of the reason I’m not entirely convinced is that it’s still so nascent. I saw nothing on stage at the Samsung Developer Conference keynote, save for the silhouette of a device that’s supposedly going to change the way we think of mobile devices.
Of course, that’s not all Samsung showed off. The company, which is known for its expanding ecosystem of smartphones, appliances, computers, and so many other things, had plenty of exciting new tidbits to show off. For instance, did you know that Samsung TVs have an ambient mode like on the Google Chromecast? I did not know that, since I’ve been running all of my cord-cutting through a Google Chromecast plugged into the TV.
I also grabbed a glance of the Galaxy Home, which I hadn’t yet seen in person. It looks so much like a Harmon Kardon speaker—a particular model, one that so many people I know bought on sale at Costco one holiday season long ago. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows that Samsung gobbled up the company several years back. This product seems like it’ll be a competitor for the Apple Home Pod and Google Home Max than more than any of the regular ol’ smart speakers.
I’d left the show floor once the Bixby sessions had started, so I missed exactly what Samsung’s plans are for the platform. I still don’t know how it will exist alongside Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and I’m curious to see how Samsung will attempt to make it stand out.
A look at One UI
My favorite part of the short time I spent at SDC was checking out the new One UI, which effectively replaces the TouchWiz design paradigm that’s existed on Samsung devices all this time. Much of its ethos seems directly related to what Google’s attempting with Material Theming, in the sense that this is an interface that adapts to all sorts of devices, regardless of screen size. The main navigation schematic has been moved to the bottom, kind of like what Google did with Android Pie, and though there is more whitespace throughout, the idea is to always keep the most significant part of the user interface in focus. I don’t know yet that this is more fluid than what Samsung has going on with its devices now, but it’s something I’m hoping to look into.
Where to read more
Want to learn more about what Samsung’s planning for the future, including what the deal is with the foldable smartphone? I suggest you read:
- Samsung’s foldable phone was a giant disappointment: I don’t know that I’d go as far as to call a product that barely exists a “disappointment,” though I was certainly unenthused.
- CNET has a thorough rundown of what to know about the Galaxy X, aka the folding phone.
- The Verge says foldable phones are coming, and it’s a thing that I’m going to have to comply with, I know it eventually. But first, I’d like to see how many people buy this sort of thing.
- Samsung opens third-party API support for Bixby, which worries some people, and I’m currently drafting out an opinion about that. Stay tuned.
- Samsung’s One UI is clean AF.