Playing Music and Videos - Entertainment Applications - Samsung Galaxy S7 For Dummies (2016)

Samsung Galaxy S7 For Dummies (2016)

Part IV. Entertainment Applications

Chapter 12. Playing Music and Videos


Enjoying a single song, podcasts, or an entire album

Viewing videos

Knowing your licensing options

Smartphones have built-in digital music and video players. Some people hesitate to give up on their MP3 or portable multimedia players. This is simply technological inertia.

Having a single device that you can use as a phone and as a source of music is quite convenient because then you need only one device rather than two, and you eliminate extra cords for charging and separate headphones for listening. Your Samsung Galaxy S7 is no exception. You can play digital music files and podcasts all day and all night on your phone.

In addition, by virtue of the Super AMOLED screen on your Galaxy S7 smartphone, your phone makes for an excellent handheld video player. Just listen on the headset and watch on the screen, whether you have a short music video or a full-length movie.

To boot, your Galaxy S7 comes with applications for downloading and listening to music as well as downloading and watching videos. These apps are very straightforward, especially if you’ve ever used a CD or a DVD player. I will judge the success of this chapter by the number of MP3 and CD players that readers list on eBay.

Being Mindful of Carrier Quirks

The only possible pitfall for playing music and videos on your smartphone is that each cellular carrier has its own spin: Some carriers want you to use their proprietary music stores; some give you the freedom to enjoy the flexibility that comes with owning an Android-based phone. You can use the basic multimedia tools that come with the phone or download the myriad options that you have via the Play Store. (Read all about the Play Store in Chapter 8.)

To keep things straight, read on to see the options you have regardless of what cellular carrier you use — including the use of the basic multimedia applications that came with your phone. Lots and lots of options for entertainment exist out there. The truth is that there isn’t that much difference among them when it comes to playing. The differences lie in price and selection.

Therefore, I cover the basic functions, but I encourage you to find the entertainment that you prefer. Trust me — it’s out there somewhere. Find the music you like and subscribe to as many services as it takes to bring you joy. Remember, the whole point is enjoyment. Enjoy yourself!

Getting Ready to Be Entertained

Regardless of the model phone you have, the particular app you use for entertainment, and whether you’re listening to audio or watching video, here’s where I cover some common considerations up front.

The first is the use of headsets. Yeah, you use headphones with your MP3 player, but you probably want to use a headset with your phone. The vocabulary is more than just semantics; a headset has headphones plus a microphone on the cable. This makes it easier for when you get a call while listening to music or watching a movie.

Your phone sees an incoming call and will pause the music or movie and show you the caller ID. If you answer it and you have a headset, you can be reasonably assured that the person on the other line will hear you loud and clear. If you have headphones, the phone will use the built-in microphone for your voice while you hear the caller on your headphones. My advice is to test the sound quality using a headphone and judge for yourself whether you want to use a headset or headphones.

Next, I explore speakers. I touch on speakers in Chapters 3 when talking about Bluetooth pairing and again in Chapter 16 when I talk about making the phone your own. As you may guess, having a solid strategy for speakers is important to get the most out of your Galaxy S7.

Then you need to know about connecting your Galaxy S7 phone to a television and/or stereo. After I talk about that, I cover the issue of licensing multimedia material.

Finally, I explore storing all these options on your phone for your offline enjoyment. You can have gobs of storage at your disposal if you want. I explore what the term “gobs” really means in terms of audio and video storage.

Choosing your headset

You can use wired or wireless (Bluetooth) headsets with your Samsung Galaxy S7 phone. Wired headsets are less expensive than Bluetooth headsets, and, of course, wired headsets don’t need charging, as do the Bluetooth headsets.

On the other hand, you lose freedom of mobility if you’re tangled up in wires. In addition, the battery in Bluetooth headsets lasts much longer than the battery in your phone.

Wired headsets

At the bottom of your Galaxy S7 phone is a headset jack. If you try to use your regular headphone jack in this jack, you’ll hear the audio, but the person on the other end of the call may not hear you because the headphones don’t come with a microphone. In such a case, your phone tries to use the built-in mic as a speakerphone. Depending upon the ambient noise conditions, it may work fine or sound awful. Of course, you can always ask the person you’re talking to whether he or she can hear you.

To address that problem, your phone might come with a wired headset. In that case, just plug it in to use the device. The Galaxy S7 uses ear buds, like those shown in Figure 12-1.


FIGURE 12-1: A typical wired headset with ear buds and a 3.5mm plug.

Some people dislike ear buds. You can obtain other styles at a number of retail franchises that offer options, including

· Around-the-ear headphones that place the speakers on the ear and are held in place with a clip

· A behind-the-neck band that holds around-the-ear headphones in place

· An over-the-head band that places the headphones on the ear

warning The laws in some regions prohibit the use of headphones while driving. Correcting the officer and explaining that these are really “headsets” and not “headphones” won’t help your case if you’re pulled over. Even if not explicitly illegal in an area, it’s still a bad idea to play music in both ears at a volume that inhibits your ability to hear warnings while driving.

warning Ear buds can have a greater chance of causing ear damage if the volume is too loud than other options. The close proximity to your eardrum is the culprit. There are probably warnings on the ear bud instructions, but I wanted to amplify this information (<har har>).

In any case, give yourself some time to get used to any new headset. There is often an adjustment period while you get used to having a foreign object in or around your ear.

Stereo Bluetooth headsets

The other option is to use a stereo Bluetooth headset. Figure 12-2 shows a few options.


FIGURE 12-2: Bluetooth stereo headsets.

You need to consider a few important options before you put down your money and buy one. First, you have a choice of the earpieces being “on” the ear, “over” the ear, or “in” the ear.

The over-the-ear option tends to eliminate outside noise a little better because your ears are surrounded by the cushions. This can also get hot if you wear your headphones for an extended time. Figure 12-2 shows the Plantronics Backbeat Pro. This headset has the added capability of connecting to two Bluetooth devices at the same time. It has the smarts to jump between these devices. For example, I may be watching a course delivered on my laptop. When a call comes in on my cellphone, this headset will pause the video and allow me to take the call. How slick is that?

The on-the-ear headphone is good for when you have your headphones on for a long time. The on-the-ear headphone seen in Figure 12-2 is a Bedphone that is designed specifically for use in bed, including as you sleep. How cool is that?

The third option for headsets includes those that insert into your ear canal. These ear buds are just wires and plugs and have some structure to stay on your head. Having this kind of headset in your ear makes it less likely to shift or fall out than the other options. The in-the-ear headset shown in Figure 12-2 is well-suited for those who want to listen to music and have the ability to take calls has they exercise. How neat is that?

In each of these cases, a stereo Bluetooth headset is paired the same way as any other Bluetooth headset. (Read how to do this in Chapter 3.) When your Galaxy S7 phone and the headset connect, the phone recognizes that the headset operates in stereo when you’re listening to music or videos.

Choosing your Bluetooth speaker

In the last few years, developers released a flurry of products known as Bluetooth speakers. Among the better-known Bluetooth speakers are products, such as the Dre Beats Pill. These speakers include a range of options, some of which are a very small and convenient. Others are designed to offer excellent audio quality.

Although these speakers (which come in a range of sizes) are not as portable as the Bluetooth headset — they’re a little difficult to use as you’re walking down the street — they’re usually pretty easy to take with you and set up when you’re at a desk or in someone’s living room. They also do not need a cable to make a connection and are always ready to go.

Soen Audio’s Transit (see Figure 12-3) is an excellent example of a high-quality Bluetooth speaker. Its list price is close to $200.


FIGURE 12-3: The Soen Audio Transit Bluetooth speaker.

If you like high-quality sound, this is the quality of Bluetooth speaker that you’d want to get. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for background enjoyment, you can get a Bluetooth speaker for less than half that price.

Connecting to your stereo

Although being able to listen to your music on the move is convenient, it’s also nice to be able to listen to your music collection on your home or car stereo. Your Galaxy S7 phone presents your stereo with a nearly perfect version of what went in. The sound quality that comes out is limited only by the quality of your stereo.

In addition, you can play the music files and playlists stored on your phone, which can be more convenient than playing CDs. If your stereo receiver is older, setup involves plugging the 3.5mm jack from the cable shown in Figure 12-4 into the 3.5mm jack available on newer stereos.


FIGURE 12-4: The patch cable with 3.5mm plugs.

When you play the music as you do through a headset, it will play through your stereo. Although each stereo system is unique, the correct setting for the selector knob is AUX.

Newer stereo receivers recognize that cellular phones are a great place to access music. These receivers support a Bluetooth connection to your phone. If you are in the market for a new receiver, make sure that you get one with Bluetooth capability. In either case, you will be entertained. Enjoy yourself.

Licensing Your Multimedia Files

It’s really quite simple: You need to pay the artist if you’re going to listen to music or watch video with integrity. Many low-cost options are suitable for any budget. Depending upon how much you plan to listen to music or podcasts, or watch videos, you can figure out what’s the best deal.

warning Stealing music or videos is uncool. Although it might be technically possible to play pirated music and videos on your phone, it’s stealing. Don’t do it. If your financial circumstances do not allow you to afford to pay for your music, I suggest you listen to Internet Radio. With just a little work on your part, you can get free unlimited music and at least a low monthly fee if you want no advertising.

You can buy or lease music, podcasts, or videos. In most cases, you pay for them with a credit card. And depending upon your cellular carrier, you might be allowed to pay for them on your monthly cellular bill.

Listening up on licensing

Here are the three primary licensing options available for music files and podcasts:

· By the track: Pay for each song individually. Buying a typical song costs about 79 cents to $1.29. Podcasts, which are frequently used for speeches or lectures, can vary dramatically in price.

· By the album: Buying an album isn’t a holdover from the days before digital music. Music artists and producers create albums with an organization of songs that offer a consistent feeling or mood. Although many music-playing applications allow you to assemble your own playlist, an album is created by professionals. In addition, buying a full album is often less expensive than on a per-song basis. You can get multiple songs for $8 to $12.

· With a monthly pass: The last option for buying audio files is the monthly pass. For about $15 per month, you can download as much music as you want from the library of the service provider.

technicalstuff If you let your subscription to your monthly pass provider lapse, you won’t be able to listen to the music from this library. This music is streamed through the Internet and not stored on your phone.

In addition to full access to the music library, some music library providers offer special services to introduce you to music that’s similar to what you’ve been playing. These services are a very convenient way to learn about new music. If you have even a small interest in expanding your music repertoire, these services are an easy way to do it.

Whether buying or renting is most economical depends on your listening/viewing habits. If you don’t plan to buy much, or you know specifically what you want, you may save some money by paying for all your files individually. If you’re not really sure what you want, or you like a huge variety of music, paying for monthly access might make better sense for you.

Licensing for videos

The two primary licensing options available for videos are

· Rental: This option is similar to renting a video from a store. You can view the video as many times as you like within 24 hours from the start of the first play. In addition, the first play must begin within a defined period, such as a week, of your downloading it. Most movies are in the $3 to $5 range.

· Purchase: You have a license to view the file as frequently as you want, for as long as you want. The purchase cost can be as low as $12, but is more typically in the $15 range.

At the moment, there are no sources for mainstream Hollywood films that allow you to buy a monthly subscription and give you unlimited access to a film library. This can change at any time, so watch for announcements.

Using the Full Capacity of Your SD Card

Your Galaxy S7 comes with 32GB of storage. Okay. What does that really mean?

The Android operating system is stored on some of that storage space. Plus, the apps that you downloaded are stored here. Then, there are the files that you create and use. After it is all said and done, you probably have at least 10GB available for the storage of photos, music, and videos. So how much is that, and do you need more?

The correct answer is, “Who knows?” That is about as worthless of an answer as you will find anywhere in this book. However, I can tell you how to change that response to “It doesn’t matter.”

Your phone has a slot in the top where you can add a microSD card, and your Android operating system can address up to 200GB of storage. Okay. So how much is that?

The easiest way to describe it is by figuring out how many photos, how many songs, and how many movies fit into 1GB.

· 300 images: You can take about 300 images from the camera on your phone at resolution at the default settings.

· Ten hours of music: If you buy an album, it will take somewhat less than a tenth of a gigabyte. The length of albums was set based upon what could be reliably imprinted on a vinyl record. That works out to be about 45 minutes and maybe a dozen songs.

· About one standard definition (TV-quality) movie: Estimating the size of videos can get really variable. TV quality video is a waste of that beautiful screen. However, an hour of video that uses every pixel of resolution will take about 4GB.

Unfortunately, at this point, you need to do a little bit of math. Say that I want to watch every minute of all 529 episodes of The Simpsons. This would take 194 hours or about 8 days. All I need to do is buy a 200GB chip for about $80, load it up, and put it in my phone. D’oh!

You could binge-watch all the episodes of the series Breaking Bad in high definition on one SD card. If you want to be able to binge-watch Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, it would need to be stored in standard mode. Sorry.

If you are more into music than videos, you could store over 2,500 music albums on that poor microSD Card. The albums could include Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook and Chicago at Carnegie Hall, each of which is well over three hours.

Keep in mind that these are rough estimates. These calculations assume there are minor attempts to reduce the size of these files. That can have a huge impact on storage needs. Let’s just say that you can put a combination of images, music, and video that will keep you entertained for a very, very long time.

Enjoying Basic Multimedia Capabilities

Regardless of the version of your Galaxy S7, some basic multimedia capabilities are common across the different phones. Figure 12-5 shows the Music and Video applications.


FIGURE 12-5: The multimedia apps on the Galaxy S7.

Your phone comes with these applications preloaded, and you might have other multimedia applications as well, depending upon your carrier.

Grooving with the Play Music app

The Play Music app allows you to play music and audio files. The first step is to obtain music and audio files for your phone.

Some ways to acquire music and/or recordings for your phone are

· Buy and download tracks from an online music store.

· Receive them as attachments via email or text message.

· Receive them from another device connected with a Bluetooth link.

· Record them on your phone.

Buying from an online music store

The most straightforward method of getting music on your phone is from an online music store. You can download a wide variety of music from dozens of mainstream online music stores. The Play Store is an option. In addition to apps, it has music and video. Other well-known sites include Rhapsody, Amazon Music, and

In addition, many more specialty or “boutique” stores provide more differentiated offerings than you can get from the mass-market stores. For example, MAQAM offers Middle Eastern music (

The details for acquiring music among the online stores vary from store to store. Ultimately, there are more similarities than differences. As an example of when you know what you want, what you really, really want, here’s how to find and download the song “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. I’m using Amazon Music. If you don’t have Amazon Music in your Applications list, you would start by loading that app on your phone, as I describe how to do in Chapter 8. After entering your Amazon sign-in information, you see the Amazon Music Home screen, shown on the right in Figure 12-6.


FIGURE 12-6: The Amazon Music login and Home screens.

From here, you can search for music by album, song, or music genre. Now to search for the song you want:

1. Enter the relevant search information in the Amazon Music Search field.

In this case, I’m searching for “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. The result of the search for songs looks like Figure 12-7.

The search results come up with all kinds of options, including: albums, individual tracks, similar songs, karaoke versions, and other songs from the same artist. Be ready for these options.

2. To purchase the track, tap twice on the price.

The left screen in Figure 12-8 shows the price. When you tap once on the price, you get a confirmation message to make sure that you want to buy the download; the price is replaced with a Buy Song icon, as shown on the right in Figure 12-8. To buy, tap Buy Song.

3. Expect to pay.

Unless you’re going to subsist on the free promotional songs, you need to pay. In this case, you get the screen shown in Figure 12-9.

The song is now loaded on your phone. When you open the music player, it’s ready for you to play anytime you want to party like it’s 1996!


FIGURE 12-7: Search results for a song at the Amazon Music store.


FIGURE 12-8: Tap twice to buy.


FIGURE 12-9: The screen confirming your purchase from the Amazon Music store.

Receiving music as an attachment

As long as you comply with your license agreement, you can email or text a music file as an attachment. Simply send yourself an email from your PC with the desired music file. You then open the email or text on your phone and save the file in the library of your Music app.

technicalstuff Your phone can play music files that come in any of the following formats: FLAC, WAV, Vorbis, MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, MID, AC3, and XMF.

Recording sounds on your phone

No one else might think your kids’ rendition of “Happy Birthday” is anything special, but you probably treasure it. In fact, many sound recording apps are available on your phone.

Some are basic and turn your phone into a basic voice recorder. Others can alter your voice. (I do not want to know why.) Others are meant to allow you to surreptitiously record voice conversations. Some can specifically record telephone conversations.

tip Be aware of privacy laws in your area! Some jurisdictions require only one party in a conversation to give permission to record a conversation. Other jurisdictions require positive consent from all parties. While rare, there have been cases where first-time offenders have spent long stints in jail for recording what was perfectly legal in another state!

In general, a simple record button creates a sound file when you stop recording. The sound quality may not be the best, but what you record can be just as important or entertaining as what you buy commercially. Your phone treats all audio files the same and all are playable on your Play Music.

Playing downloaded music

image To play your music, tap the Play Music app icon (as shown in the margin) to open the music playing application.

tip Okay. Figure 12-10 shows your Home screen after your get through the initial marketing welcome. Sometimes this app can be too enthusiastic in welcoming you.


FIGURE 12-10: Home screen for the Play Music app.

The first screen that you see sorts your music files into a number of categories. You can select the category you want to use by tapping on the link that says playlist. This brings up a pop-up screen.

The categories include

· Playlists: Some digital music stores bundle songs into playlists, such as Top Hits from the ’50s. You can also create your own playlists for groups of songs that are meaningful to you.

· Stations: These are kind of like radio stations that follow a particular format. You put in a group name, like Genesis or Van Halen, and Play Music will play songs within that genre that may or may not be currently stored on your phone. Figure 12-11 shows a more recent example when I searched on Bruno Mars. The section later in this chapter on Internet Radio describes this service in more detail.

· Artists: This category lists all songs from all the albums from a given artist.

· Albums: Tapping this category places all your songs into an album with which the song is associated. When you tap the album, you see all the songs you’ve purchased, whether one song or all the songs from that album.

· Songs: This lists all your song files in alphabetic order.

· Genres: This category separates music into music genres, such as country and western or heavy metal.


FIGURE 12-11: Bruno Mars Radio Station within the Play Music app.

These categories are useful when you have a large number of files. To play a song, an album, or a genre, open that category and tap the song, playlist, album, artist, or genre, and the song will start playing.

Adding songs as ringtones and alarms

Here’s how to add a song as a ringtone or alarm. The first step is to open a contact. A generic contact in Edit mode is seen in Figure 12-12. (Refer to Chapter 6 if you have any questions about contacts.)


FIGURE 12-12: A typical contact for a Baroque composer.

Follow these steps:

1. Tap the Default Ringtone link.

This will bring up a list of ringtones (shown in Figure 12-13).

A quick scan finds that Ode to Joy is not among the options that come with your phone. To use a music file as a ringtone, flick down to the bottom to find the Add button.

2. Tap Add.

This brings up the option to bring up the Sound Picker App. This app shows all the music files on your phone, as shown in Figure 12-14.

3. Highlight the song you want and tap OK.

From now on, when you hear this song, you know it will be your friend Ludwig. Figure 12-15 show that this is now Ludwig’s ringtone.


FIGURE 12-13: Basic ringtones.


FIGURE 12-14: The track selections.


FIGURE 12-15: The ringtone selection.

Jamming to Internet Radio

If you have not tried Internet Radio, you should definitely consider it. The basic idea is that you enter information on your current music favorites, and these services play music that is similar. In some stations, a great deal of research with complex statistical analysis goes into picking similar songs based upon numeric analysis of musical patterns. Other stations wing it.

The good news is that you can explore your options. Figure 12-16 shows some of the 9,000 Internet Radio apps in the Play Store. Pandora and Slacker Radio are two of the best-known services of this type; one or the other may have been preinstalled on your phone. (Actually, you may find four or more Internet Radio options preinstalled on your phone!)


FIGURE 12-16: Some Internet Radio options in the Play Store.

These apps are a great way to learn about new songs and groups that may appeal to you. The service streams music to your phone for you to enjoy. You can buy the track if you choose.

warning Streaming audio files can use a large amount of data over time. This may be no problem if you have an unlimited (or even large) data-service plan. Otherwise, your “free” Internet Radio service can wind up costing you a lot. You’re best off using Wi-Fi.

tip The selection played by even the best Internet Radio can become repetitive after a while if you listen to it enough. If you find yourself bored, do not hesitate to switch Internet Radio providers and use the same band for the radio station. This will almost always bring up new songs.

Looking at your video options

The Play Music app allows you to play music files. Similarly, you use the Video Player app to play video options. The Video Player is in your Application list and might even be on your home page. In most ways, playing videos is the same as playing audio with some exceptions:

· Many people prefer to buy music, but renting is more typical for videos.

· Video files are usually, but not always, larger.

Otherwise, as with music files, you can acquire videos for your phone from an online video store — and you need to have an account and pay for the use. In addition, you can download video files to your phone, and the Video Player will play them like a DVD player.

There is a great selection of videos on the Google Play Store and Amazon Music. Each of these has great video selections that you can rent or buy. Figure 12-17 shows the Home screens for the Google Play Store and Amazon Video.


FIGURE 12-17: Home screens for Google Play Store and Amazon Video.

We should not forget Netflix, as seen in Figure 12-18.


FIGURE 12-18: Getting Netflix on your phone.

Using the three screens

If you have a subscription to Netflix, I hereby grant you permission to watch any and all of the Netflix options on your Galaxy S7 (once you sign in and comply with all the terms and conditions set forth by Netflix). Once you install the Netflix app from the Play Store, sign in with the email and password associated with your account, and all the Netflix content is there for you to stream. It is that simple. If you don’t believe me, give it a try.

If you take a look at the Netflix home page on the Internet, seen in Figure 12-19, it shows your options for access to the content to which you subscribe. The original term for this was called serving the three screens. Three screens referred to in the strategy included your television at home, your PC or laptop, and your smartphone.


FIGURE 12-19: The Netflix home page.

The idea is that you get one subscription and have access to the same content and, importantly, can pick up where you left off. So if you’re watching a video on your television, you can pick up where you left off on your smartphone.

Netflix is taking this one step further, as you can see in Figure 12-18, to ensure as many of its subscribers as possible have access. If you have a Smart TV that has an Internet connection, the chances are that Netflix will run on the TV. If you have an old and/or a dumb TV, you can get Netflix through streaming media players, game consoles, set-top boxes, or Blu-ray players.

Netflix is not the only organization to do this. Many cable companies offer this kind of solution, as do many of the video subscription services.

The mainstream video services compete with having a broad range within their libraries that seek to appeal to as many customers as possible. Keep in mind that there are specialty video providers that offer curated videos for their subscribers.

For example, TeacherTube is a site dedicated to K-12 education, as seen in Figure 12-20. If we continue down this path further, there are a great number of options for online education. Many of these sites do not consider themselves to be video aggregators, but that’s exactly what happens when they take recorded lectures and provide them to students.


FIGURE 12-20: The TeacherTube app.

The best-known online education service is the University of Phoenix. There are dozens more online universities.

Education is just one curated video service. Others exist for videos of Bollywood movies, British sitcoms, Portuguese game shows, and many other art forms.

Viewing your own videos

In Chapter 9, I cover how to use the digital camcorder on your phone. You can watch any video you’ve shot on your phone. From the Google Play application, scroll over to the Personal Video section.

technicalstuff Your phone can show the following video formats: MPEG-4, WMV, AVI/DivX, MKV, and FLV.

To play your video, simply tap the name of the file. The app begins showing the video in landscape orientation. The controls that pop up when you tap the screen are similar to the controls of a DVD player.

The reality of virtual reality

Video games can be immersive, and a good movie can really suck you into its reality. The idea of virtual reality is to take this one step further. The basic idea behind virtual reality is to create a simulated world by having you wear a pair of goggles and presenting images that change the screen based upon movements of your head and body.

We can explore the concept by taking it in steps. At the most basic level, you can use your phone with a pair of virtual reality goggles. Samsung is offering virtual reality goggles that are designed to work with your Galaxy S7. These are seen in Figure 12-21.


FIGURE 12-21: Samsung virtual reality goggles.

What happens is that your field of view is entirely taken up by the screen of your Galaxy S7. Imagine the most basic scenario, where the camera on the back of your phone shows you what is in front of you. This kind of experience is more or less comparable to using a pair of eyeglasses.

When you walk forward, things come closer. When you look down, you see the floor. When you turn your head to the right or the left, you see things that were not in your range of vision. So far, this is not very interesting.

So let’s take it up a level. Now let’s let your phone and all its processing capacity and intelligence tell you what you’re looking at. You turn your head, and you see a picture. Presto chango, you see a little pop-up next to the picture that tells you that this is a print of Edward Hopper’s The Nighthawks. You look out the window, and a pop-up appears with current weather conditions and a forecast for today.

Now you take your virtual reality goggles to the grocery store. As you get your cart, a familiar face comes up and starts talking. For the life of you, you cannot remember who this person is or how you know him. In just a moment, the face recognition system recognizes this person, and a pop-up identifies that this person is your old neighbor Bif Wellington. After chatting, you walk the store aisles looking for deals. You get a pop-up letting you know when this grocery is giving you a good deal on Honeycrisp apples, or if you can get them cheaper at the other store. This capability is called augmented reality.

Let’s take it up another notch. Imagine a world where, instead of seeing a slightly modified version of your reality, you are transported to a beach. You can look around and see palm trees and jungles behind you.

Why stay earthbound? You are virtually transported to the Mars rover landing site. As you look around, it is as if you are there on Mars.

Why stay in the mainstream opinion of what is reality? Now we can all have an “Alice through the Looking Glass” experience. You can grow and shrink and see all kinds of unusual visions which are limited by your imagination.

The reality of virtual reality is that it is not entirely ready for prime time. There are some very, very cool demonstrations that leverage the capabilities of your phone. The Samsung offering comes at a great price compared to some of the other options out there. For that matter, you may have received the Samsung virtual reality goggles for free for preordering your phone.

This should make your friends who own iPhone technology suitably jealous. What needs to happen is further application development to really take us to where this technology can go.