Last week, Samsung unveiled their brand new, highly-hyped, mobile phone at SXSW. The unit is called Galaxy S4, so I expected the ad campaign to be spacy and zippy and full of science and tech. But the graphic you see here is what Samsung is using to promote their new phone — softly muted, retro-looking children, happily cavorting in the park on a summer day.
Sweet. But really? Is this what I want from my mobile phone? Samsung says their new phone will make my life simpler, richer and more fun. Okay, I’m on board with that.
Here are a few of the new features:
S Voice Drive: put your phone in Drive Mode and buttons get bigger and voice activation takes over.
For important tasks that require your hands and attention – making calls, answering calls, organizing messages, and asking for directions – you can now do with both hands safely on your steering wheel.
Sorry, but I don’t think anyone should be doing any of those things while driving, hands free or not.
Air Gesture: Because actually touching your phone leaves fingerprints, you can now just wave your hand over the phone to answer calls, change songs, etc. How magical.
S Health: Tracking your every move, everything you eat and every unhealthy thing you do. I’ll pass on that one.
And then there’s Smart Pause / Smart Scroll.
The intention here is a good one. Instead of scrolling with your finger (again, messy fingerprints) you can scroll by simply tilting the phone and lowering your eyes down the page. Now check this out. The phone has facial recognition software so it knows when you’ve taken your eyes off the screen. When it sees your ear instead of your nose, it pauses the video you were watching.
I watch a lot of TV on a mobile device. I’m always clicking the pause button so I can turn away and multi-task. Smart Pause would save me the trouble of clicking; pausing and unpausing automatically every time I turn away.
But wait – what if I just want to watch in my peripheral vision while I’m working on my PC, or I don’t mind just listening? Can I shut the feature off?
For marketers, it’s pretty nifty. Now, instead of looking away while the pre-roll ads run, viewers will be forced to actually watch them. Some experts say this will push marketers to be more relevant and inventive with their ads. There’s a possibility that people will actually learn to enjoy watching video ads. But it’s more likely that people will soon grow weary of this force-fed feature.
Samsung gets big points for trying something new. They went for the wow factor which is tough to do when Apple is your biggest competitor. In some ways, they succeeded but in general, it feels like they were reaching for the stars but only got as far as the clouds.
Want to learn more? Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic details the Broken, the Useless and the Useful features on the new Samsung Galaxy S4.