Samsung Galaxy S4 New Features Explained!

May 2, 2013
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Chances are fairly good that by now you know whether or not you’re excited about the Samsung Galaxy S4, especially if you’ve checked out our review. But, you might still be curious.

Our Joe Hindy covered most of the big features coming to the Galaxy S4 a while back, but we hadn’t had a chance to get some real one on one time with the device yet. Now that we have, we’re going to walk you through some of our favorite features of the Samsung Galaxy S4.

In a hurry? Check out the video at the bottom of the article.

Dual Shot

While it might sound a little unusual at first, the Samsung Galaxy S4’s Dual Shot mode is actually pretty cool. It uses the rear- and front-facing camera simultaneously, allowing you to paste yourself into any photo or video. Sure, you can do this by awkwardly holding out your phone, but you have no idea what you’re going to get since you can’t see the screen.

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You might think this sounds like a novelty feature, and it very well could have been one if not for one thing: you can also use this for video chat. It’s very handy to be able to show someone something without having to position the phone in such a way that you can’t really see what they’re seeing. This alone makes Dual Shot worthwhile.

Eraser

If you’re the kind of person who often finds themselves taking pictures of friends and/or family and/or static objects in crowded situations, the Galaxy S4’s Eraser mode is going to be a lifesaver. When you’re in this mode, the camera functions similarly to HTC Zoe, capturing a few seconds of video instead of a still image.

Once you have finished capturing your subject, the software analyzes the results and (hopefully) removes anything or anyone that was clearly moving in and out of frame. You can manually also select the option to keep the moving objects on the off chance that you want them to remain in the finished photo.

Animated Photo

The Galaxy S4’s Animated Photo mode essentially lets you create an animated GIF using the camera. Like Eraser mode, instead of capturing a single still image, the camera captures a few short seconds of video, only this time, it’s your goal to keep the motion, not remove it.

One the video is captured and analyzed, you are presented with the option to select the areas of the screen that you would like to be animated. These areas will move, while any unselected area will remain still. Yeah, this feature isn’t exactly essential, but it can be fun, and what’s so wrong with that?

Drama Shot

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Drama shot isn’t going to be useful to everyone, but there is no denying that some of the results it produces are simply very cool. Like the above two features, drama shot captures a longer moment of time, though this time, once you’re done capturing, the software analyzes the raw data and picks some images from various points and gives you the option to show them.

You’ll need a steady hand, as the goal is to keep the background still while you’re subject moves in the foreground. If all goes well, you’ll see multiple “copies” of the subject moving across the foreground and end up with a very stylish shot. It can be a little work, but the results are worth it.

Sound & Shot

You know those greeting cards that allow you to record a message that plays once the recipient opens it up? Well, Sound & Shot basically does that, except with a photo you have taken instead of some stock greeting card, and can actually be useful.

To do this just switch to Sound & Shot mode and hit the shutter button, but be ready: as soon as the photo is taken it will start recording your message. Now sure, you can use this for a greeting card type of recording, but you can also use it to describe when or where a photo was taken, even if it’s only to help yourself remember.

Air View & Air Gesture

We should have seen it coming when Samsung started introducing “hover” actions with the S Pen on certain devices, and now here it is: the same type of functionality, but minus the plastic. When browsing through a web page, for example, you can hover your finger over a bit of text to zoom in on it, and you can see an example of this right away on the Galaxy S4 lock screen.

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Air Gesture takes it further. This feature allows you to scroll web pages, flip back and forth through photos, skip to the next song when listening to music, and more, all with a simple wave of the hand. This is cool if you don’t want to touch your screen, but more often than not, it feels easier simply to scroll the old fashioned way. Still, we’re excited to see where this could go in the future.

Smart Scroll

Similar to Air Gesture, Smart Scroll provides you with a different way of navigating through your device, though this time, it uses your eyes. Basically, it works like this: the front-facing camera watches your eyes and knows where on-screen you are looking. Now when you tilt the phone away from your or toward you it will scroll up or down.

This feature sounds cool, but I didn’t seem to have great luck with it. At certain times, it worked without a hitch. At others, I had trouble getting it to work at all. It’s likely that the longer you spend with the Galaxy S4, the more you’ll make this feature work for you, but it could stand to be a little more user friendly.

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The Galaxy S4 also has a similar feature included known as “Smart Pause,” which will pause a video if you look away. It can be handy, but you might want to turn this option off for longer videos, or if you find it pausing too frequently.

S Health

One of my personal favorite features included in the Samsung Galaxy S4 is S Health. Sure, a lot of this could be done as an app, but it’s so tightly integrated with the Galaxy S4 that it definitely deserves to be thought of as an important feature of the phone.

To get started, open up S Health and input your gender, age, height and weight. Now you can keep track of almost any aspect of your health from how well and how much you’re eating to how often you exercise, how much you walk in a given day and even how you’re feeling from day to day. It’s the kind of thing where the more you put in to S Health, the more you’ll get out of it.

The great part is that if you have no interest in S Health, you never have to touch it and it will just leave you alone.

WatchON

Using the IR Blaster in the Galaxy S4, WatchON hopes to replace your all in one remote and your TV guide as well.

There are essentially too halves to the app. First, input your location and what television provider you use. If you like, you can also tie WatchON to your Netflix account. Now you’ll get personalized recommendations in addition to general information about what’s on tonight.

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The other portion of the app is the remove. You can control quite a few different devices, and even set up different rooms so you can control everything, everywhere you go. Don’t throw away your old remotes yet though, because there could be a snag. Though my television was listed among the included manufacturers, I couldn’t get WatchON to control it. Hopefully future updates will add more device support.

S Translator

I’m not going to lie. This is basically Google Translate, except branded by Samsung and built into the Galaxy S4. That said, it’s still fairly useful, especially if you find yourself traveling a lot.

Basically, either type or speak the phrase you would like to translate, and S Translator can translate it too or from a wide variety of languages. It can even read translated text out loud to you. I didn’t have much around to translate, but tried translating the same piece of text back and forth multiple times and didn’t end up with gibberish, which is a plus.

…And The Rest

There are way too many features built into the Samsung Galaxy S4 to get to them all, but there are a few honorable mentions, like Optical Reader, which can scan QR codes as well as scan and translate text. Group Play seems neat, but I couldn’t test it as there was nobody around to test it with. The same goes for the updated ChatON. I wanted to try it, but had nobody to connect to.

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Which of these features is your favorite? Do you have a different favorite that we didn’t mention? Do you have any other questions? Let us know in the comments down below.

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