Samsung’s Bixby-powered smart speaker will reportedly launch first half of 2018

2017 was definitely the year of the smart speaker. It was by far tech’s greatest trend, thanks to the rise of virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. We’ve known for quite some time now that Samsung has been looking to get into the space with a speaker of their own powered by their virtual assistant Bixby.

Unlike Google Home or Alexa which hits a lower price point, Samsung will be targeting the higher-end segment, setting their sights firmly against Apple’s HomePod. Despite offering a premium audio experience, Samsung will undercut the HomePod by selling their premium speaker for around $200, nearly half the price of Apple’s. According to Bloomberg, Samsung is planning to launch their smart speaker sometime during the first half of 2018, entering the market a tad bit late considering the competition has had such a huge head start.

The speaker will not only run Bixby, but sync up with televisions, Galaxy devices, and SmartThings smart home products. Samsung isn’t dead set on the pricing, so that is still subject to change, with the prototype being somewhere in between the size of Apple’s HomePod and the Amazon Echo. The prototype is matte black and features a few lights on top for visual cues, with Samsung apparently once toying around with the idea of including a touch screen. Samsung’s smart speaker could launch in various color options as well, to better match your home decor.

The big question is just how willing consumers are to invest — if they haven’t already — in yet another smart speaker, especially one priced at $200. Would you?

Samsung aiming to launch its smart speaker in the first half of 2018

Earlier this year, word on the street was that Samsung would soon be jumping into the smart speaker game.That rumor was shot down a little while later, with Samsung saying that it didn’t see enough potential in the South Korean market to launch a smart speaker. A month after that, though, and Samsung said that it was indeed working on a smart speaker that would be launched “soon.”

It looks like “soon” for Samsung is several months later, because a report from Bloomberg suggests we may see the smart speaker launch at some point in the first half of 2018. The sources speaking to the publication say that Samsung fully intends on offering the smart speaker in multiple markets at launch and that it could be priced around $200.

Samsung will aim to keep the smart speaker in the company’s product family, with integration with Samsung TVs, smart home devices, smartphones, tablets, and other devices. There will be integrated voice-based web searches, but according to the report, Samsung is still working on that particular feature.

And, of course, Samsung’s smart speaker will feature Bixby, its digital assistant.

Depending on price and features, would you consider picking up a Samsung-branded smart speaker?

These renders reveal an awesome design change in the Galaxy S9 [VIDEO]

The rumors are still swirling about what Samsung has up its sleeve for its 2018 flagship with the Galaxy S9. The device has been rumored to be launching at either CES 2018, MWC 2018, or at a separate event similar to the one which Samsung held for the Galaxy S8 lineup.

Today, we have some new renders to show off courtesy of @OnLeaks and 91Mobiles, which give us a look at CAD renders of every angle. Starting with the display, we see the same Infinity Display that was introduced with the Galaxy S8 with only a 0.1mm difference between the Galaxy S9 and its predecessor.

 

However, the more exciting part of these rumors come regarding the rear of the device. It seems that Samsung has finally listened to the consumers after a horrible placement of the fingerprint scanner. Instead, the scanner will be placed below the camera sensor, with the heart rate monitor and flash placed off to the right.

This placement is something we’ve seen on numerous devices over the past couple of years, and a placement that is absolutely my favorite when it comes to comfortability. Another interesting piece of information here comes regarding the camera sensor as previous rumors claimed that the S9 would feature a dual-camera setup similar to that of the Galaxy Note 8.

 

Instead, we have a single camera sensor placed in the middle of the rear panel. The rumors that accompany these renders suggest that Samsung will be “holding onto” the dual-camera setup for the Galaxy S9 Plus, something that the company hasn’t done since the inception of these devices.

Other rumored specs include the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset being at the helm of the Galaxy S9 lineup, with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM along with 64GB of base storage with a microSD card slot. For those worried about Samsung reversing course and removing the headphone jack, there’s no need to worry here. The jack will be found on the bottom of the device, placed directly next to the USB Type-C charging port.

These renders look pretty darn nice, and would definitely be a welcome upgrade from the Galaxy S8 which had one annoying design flaw with the fingerprint sensor. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that these renders are legitimate, and we’ll hopefully see something from Samsung in the coming weeks.

Samsung Begins Rolling Out Android 8.0 Beta 4 to the Galaxy S8

More and more smartphone manufacturers these days are granting members of the community early access to work-in-progress updates. Google’s been doing this for years with its Developer Preview program for Android, and we’re seeing Essential, LG, Samsung, OnePlus, Nokia and others follow suit. Samsung launched a beta for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8_’s upcoming Android 8.0 Oreo and Samsung Experience 9.0 at the start of November and since then, it’s progressed pretty smoothly. And this week, the company’s rolling out the latest version, beta 4, to the Galaxy S8.

Beta 4 of Samsung’s upcoming Oreo update includes December’s Android security patches and a fix for flakey Bluetooth connections. It also addresses a number of bugs, including for things such as the Galaxy Apps application randomly force closing, excessive battery consumption, non-responsive iris scanners, and more. (Be sure to check the screenshot below for the full changelog.)

We recently published a hands-on of Galaxy S8 Oreo update giving a glimpse of what the software looks like.

Since the beta’s launch a few months ago, Samsung has pushed out a few updates, each with new features, security updates, and bug fixes. This is where Android beta builds shine: It’s virtually impossible for a smartphone maker to account for every bug, and early access programs empower the community to seek them out and report them. It’s a beautiful thing.


Source: SamMobile

Verizon offering BOGO deal on Galaxy S8 and S8+

Starting Friday, you’ll be able to pick up a Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ and get another for free with Verizon. You’ll have to get both devices on payments and open a new line for the second device on a Verizon Unlimited plan, then you’ll get bill credits for the second device every month for the 24 month payment plan.

This is a standard BOGO deal but it’s a good chance to get a free flagship if you need a new line. The deal also applies to the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8+ if you’re into that kind of stuff. It starts Friday so let us know if you plan to hop on it!