Samsung officially kicks off the foldable phone fad

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.

Here is a bad GIF of Samsung’s foldable phone. You can find a better version online everywhere else, but this is my version from the back of the room.

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.

The Samsung TV’s ambient mode is basically a mega-large version of the one displayed on Galaxy smartphones.

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.

There’s still no word on when the Galaxy Home will go on sale, but when it’s ready to blast off it’ll likely be pitted against other high-end speakers with built-in assistants.

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: