Samsung introduced a wide range of gadgets and upgrades today at its Unpacked event in Brooklyn. The overarching theme of the event centered on increased productivity throughout its connected ecosystem with performance improvements across the board.
Here are seven takeaways from Samsung Unpacked:
1. Note 9 rumors are confirmed
Samsung’s latest phablet was introduced this afternoon without much surprise after weeks of leaks, speculation and even a photo of CEO DJ Koh using the phone in public made their rounds online. Little has changed aesthetically on this year’s Note, aside from a few new colors, a shifted fingerprint scanner and a screen that’s a fraction of an inch larger than its predecessor. The one improvement that does stand out, however, is found in the Note’s battery, which now measures 4,000mAh hours — that’s a 700mAh jump over the Note 8. Samsung is on the offensive this time around and made sure to highlight its eight-point safety check the company instituted after the firestorm of Note 7 batteries exploding.
2. Increased functionality on the S-Pen
Samsung’s stylus got its own reboot today with a focus on performance. The company has equipped the S-Pen with Bluetooth low energy, allowing users to untether themselves from the phone and use the stylus as a remote to take pictures, advance slideshows or play music. Samsung also said developers will be able to incorporate BLE into their apps later this year.
3. The new Galaxy Watch seeks mainstream adoption
While Note 9 rumors were swirling leading up to today’s event, Samsung did a better job at keeping its new Galaxy Watch under wraps. The company’s latest smartwatch will come in two sizes, an improvement from previous Samsung watches that were too large for many wrists. Samsung beat Apple to the draw by introducing LTE functionality on the Galaxy Watch and it’s sticking with Tizen as an OS, rather than switching to Android Wear.
4. Bixby gets more conversational
Samsung demoed an updated version of Bixby, the company’s voice assistant that saw much backlash when it was released last year, due to its lackluster performance. Luckily, that’s changed, and at today’s event Samsung showed how Bixby will carry on conversations and answer follow-up questions. The upgrade also features a range of app integrations with Yelp, Uber, Ticketmaster and more, allowing users to make reservations, hail rides and buy tickets even if they don’t have the app installed on their phone. Samsung also noted that Bixby will learn from your past decisions to better serve requests in the future. For example, if you’ve asked for French restaurants in the past, Bixby will generate other French restaurants in future requests related to food.
5. Samsung is (finally) getting into the smart speaker game
Improvements to Bixby were made even more apparent when Samsung unveiled its own smart speaker at today’s event. The Galaxy Home features a cloth covering and a tripod stand with a built-in subwoofer and eight microphones designed for far-field communication that’s seen on other smart speakers. Much like the initial announcement of the HomePod, there wasn’t much information on a release date or price. For now, the product is only listed as “coming soon.”
6. Spotify integration allows for seamless cross-listening experience
To go along with its new smart speaker, Samsung announced a partnership with Spotify, cementing the Swedish streaming service as the preferred music supplier on Samsung devices. Spotify will now be part of the set-up process for Samsung devices, and the integration allows for a seamless cross-devices listening experience within the Samsung ecosystem. The partnership also pins Samsung directly up against Apple and the HomePod’s exclusive integration with Apple Music.
7. Fortnite for Android launches as a Samsung exclusive
At long last, Fortnite is coming to Android this summer. The insanely popular survival game will be available for Galaxy users with an S7 or higher, and the 6.4-inch display on the Note 9 makes for a mobile gaming powerhouse. Starting today, the title will appear on Galaxy devices’ game launcher and will remain a Samsung exclusive until the 12th — at which point it will most likely be available to all Android users.