Samsung Unpacked 2018: the Galaxy Watch, the Galaxy Home speaker, and a smarter Bixby
Samsung had much more to show off at its Unpacked hardware event today besides the Galaxy Note 9: upgrades for its Bixby digital assistant, a Galaxy Home smart speaker with Bixby inside, and a new Galaxy Watch wearable. Here are the details you need to know about Samsung's new products.
To begin, Samsung announced that its Bixby app is getting more "conversational" and better able to keep up with ongoing voice chats. Samsung also says Bixby is now faster at responding to commands, and can understand natural language more easily.
Bixby's memory is improving too: If you ask it to make a reservation in a particular area, it will use its knowledge of restaurants you've booked before to inform its recommendations. The assistant can also remember how many were in your party on the previous occasion, and the times you prefer to eat.
Integration with third-party services and apps is getting better too – Samsung showed off Bixby working with Uber and Google Maps at its Unpacked demo. The upgraded assistant will feature on the new Galaxy Note 9, but it's not clear yet if or when it'll roll out on older Samsung devices.
One device it will definitely feature in is the newly-unveiled Galaxy Home, Samsung's answer to the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, Sonos One and all the rest. It's actually probably most like the HomePod, with Samsung promising superior audio quality via six built-in speakers and a subwoofer.
We know that Bixby is going to be on board, but we don't have news of a release date or a price yet: Samsung says it'll be ready to share more details of the speaker at its developer conference this coming November.
Lastly, Samsung also had time to show off its new Galaxy Watch wearable, a sort-of successor to the 2016 Gear S3 and the 2017 Gear Sport. Alongside the usual health and fitness-tracking capabilities, the watch will also include LTE connectivity, so you can make calls directly from your wrist.
Samsung promises the Galaxy Watch can make it through 80 hours of use without a recharge, which is certainly encouraging. Sleep tracking is improved on the device, Samsung says, which can also lead you in a program of exercises or even detect when you're under too much stress.
You start off with a silver 46-mm casing, or a black or rose gold 42-mm casing, and you can add to that a choice of strap materials and colors. Despite rumors that the wearable would arrive with Google's Wear OS on board, it sticks with Samsung's own Tizen OS. It's waterproof to 5 meters (16 ft), and has GPS on board too.
We do know the price for the Galaxy Watch, which goes on sale in the US on August 24. It'll cost you $329.99 for the 42-mm model and $349.99 for the 46-mm model, which puts it firmly in Apple Watch territory.