Ten Features to Look for Down the Road - The Part of Tens - Samsung Galaxy S7 For Dummies (2016)

Samsung Galaxy S7 For Dummies (2016)

Part VI. The Part of Tens

Chapter 18. Ten Features to Look for Down the Road


Controlling home electronics

Finding information and entertainment

Finding you indoors

Enhancing your reality

Improving 911 capabilities

With the power of your Samsung Galaxy S7 and the flexibility offered in Android applications development, it can be difficult to imagine that even more capabilities could be in the works. In spite of this, the following are ten features that would improve the usability and value of your Galaxy S7 phone.

Smarter Customer Care for Your Phone

You may not realize this, but your cellular carrier lives on pins and needles during the first few weeks after you get your new phone. This is the period when you can return your phone, no questions asked. Once you go past that date, you cannot cancel your contract without a lot of hassle on your part.

This is why, if you bring your phone back to the store reporting a problem, your carrier will tend to swap out your old phone for a brand new one.

Usually, you’ll just take the new phone and walk out with a big smile on your face. This outcome is good customer care for most products — but not necessarily good customer care for smartphones. The reason? One of the most common sources of trouble has nothing to do with the phone at all. The problem is the customer isn’t using it right.

For example, you may have left your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all the time, causing your battery to drain too fast. You may have left your phone on your dashboard and cooked the battery. Or, through no fault of your own, you may have downloaded two badly written apps that conflict with each other, causing the CPU in the phone to run nonstop as these two apps battle it out for resources. The problem here is that unless someone spends the time to help you with the underlying problem, you’ll be back in the store with the same problem.

At that point, however, you cannot return your phone. If you’re sympathetic, or very annoying, your carrier may give you a refurbished phone. You walk out of the store, but without the biggest smile on your face. Unfortunately, nobody dealt with the underlying trouble, so you’ll be back, once again, with the same problem.

No surprise if you start to think that the problem is with that darn phone. In fact, the store needs to listen to you about how you’re using the phone and then help you get the most out of it. This is hard to do in a retail environment where the sales force is under pressure to sell lines of service and gets no concrete reward for helping you with your problem.

This is where smarter customer care comes in. With the proper tools, you can work with a product expert to troubleshoot your phone. Some companies specialize in understanding the underlying problems and coming up with solutions for consumers. This kind of customer care costs the carriers a little more, but it makes for fewer unnecessary returns of perfectly good phones — and for much happier customers.

Control of Your Home Electronics

Traditional home appliances are getting smarter, offering more capabilities for better performance. A problem they have is that adding rows of control buttons (so that you can control those new capabilities) complicates manufacture. So the next generation of appliances has begun to add a small LCD screen to the appliance. This can look slick, but it costs a lot and is prone to breakage. Also, the fancy capabilities involve pushing a confusing combination of buttons with cryptic messages displayed on a tiny screen.

The latest idea is to omit the screen altogether and to give you control of the settings through an application on your smartphone. Your appliance retains the very basic buttons, but allows you to use the fancy capabilities by setting them through your phone. You just download the free application made by the manufacturer from the Google Play Store, and you have your beautiful and logical user interface to control your new product. No strings attached.

For example, your new oven will allow you to turn it on and set the temperature without using a smartphone. However, if you want it to start preheating at 5:30 so that you can put the casserole in right when you walk in the door, you set that up through your phone.

Many of us have such capabilities on our ovens. In practice, however, features that aren’t used regularly don’t become intuitive — and finding the instruction manual is often too much of a hassle.

An application written on your Galaxy S7, on the other hand, can be very intuitive. In just a few taps, the oven temperature will be ready when you walk in the door.

Even cooler — or is that hotter? — you don’t need to be nearby. You could be at the office when you change your oven’s settings. The oven will never know the difference.

In support of this vision, a leading provider of home appliances announced an integrated solution for its appliances. This leading company, Samsung, announced its SmartThings hub as a part of its Smart Home initiative. You can now get a touchscreen on your refrigerator that will show you links to your appliances. Check it out the next time you plan to redo your kitchen.

Entertainment Selector

The traditional view is that consumers sit in front of TVs when they want to be entertained and at PCs when they want to do something productive or communicate electronically. These clear distinctions have blurred since it became possible to watch movies and TV on a PC.

Now that you have HD resolution on your phone, it’s not unreasonable to use your phone to do some channel-surfing. When you find what you want, and if it’s convenient, you switch to the big-screen TV.

Although such a scenario has been technologically possible in the past, the extreme resolution of your phone makes it convenient and a viable alternative to firing up the big-screen TV in another part of the house.

The technology is present to make this vision a reality. However, it’s not nearly as convenient as it could be. Today, you need to open the right applications or select the right channels. It would be convenient if your phone could communicate with the TV and have the TV find the right program, and vice versa. It would be slick if the phone could watch your eyes and detect when you have taken them off the TV screen, just as it can when you take your eyes off the phone screen.

Serving You Better

The smartphone is the mechanism that companies use to find a better way to serve you. This will show up in a few ways.

The first is in much better mobile advertising. There has been talk for a long time that advertisers can tell where you are and then give you ads or coupons based upon your proximity. This is just now starting to become a reality. It’s still kinda clumsy. If you have been Googling, say, televisions, you may see ads relating to sales about televisions. In the future, however, your phone may tell you about a sale going on for Samsung televisions when you walk by the Sears store in the mall. That is cool.

Even cooler is to be told that that particular model is on sale at the Sears store and that this particular sale is the best in town by over $20. This can happen if you are doing research at the moment. It may be possible for your app to flag you if you have ever done this kind of research on the Internet.

The second way smartphones are enhancing service is by automating the order-taking process. For example, wherever you see a video kiosk, that company can allow you to interact with the information on the kiosk with your Samsung Galaxy S7. Some fast-food restaurants have installed kiosks so that customers can bypass the line to order from the menu. The items are totaled and paid for by credit card. The customer steps aside and waits for his or her number to be called.

This exact transaction could take place on your smartphone. You don’t have to wait while the guy in front of you struggles to decide between a double cheeseburger or two single cheeseburgers … and hold the pickles. Instead, you can place your order on your smartphone and wait with eager anticipation to find out what toys are in your kid’s meal.

Placing You Indoors

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is great. It can tell you precisely your location on the road and off the road. Chapter 11 covers how it can help you get to where you want to be.

There is a confession to be made. GPS doesn’t work so well within buildings. Once you are in a building, your phone only kind of knows where you are. The satellite responsible for sending out signals so that your phone can figure out your position is no longer visible, and the GPS in your phone waits patiently until it sees another satellite. Until then, it stops trying to figure out where you are.

This is rarely a problem if you are, say, at your home. It is probably only a few thousand square feet. Things are altogether different if you are wandering around the Palazzo Casino in Las Vegas. At 6.95 million square feet, this building has the most floor area of any building in the United States.

You could be anywhere in the 160 acres of luxury resort space. It is unfortunate if the Carnevino Steakhouse sends you a mobile coupon offering a two-for-one meal to your Galaxy S7 while you are already sitting in the Delmonico Steakhouse. It can be a tragedy if you start choking on too big a bite of your porterhouse steak and emergency services cannot find you.

There are some efforts out there to come up with a better way to locate you when you are indoors. One approach has been to estimate your location based upon signal strength of known Wi-Fi access points. Companies that hire a large number of smarticles (smart people) are trying a variety of technologies to address this problem. May the best company win so that we may all get better location-based services!

Augmenting Your Reality

You may have seen augmented reality in science fiction shows. The idea is that you pull up an application on your smartphone that directs your camera viewfinder to locate and identify via pop-up windows what you’re looking at. For example, you hold up your phone while you’re walking down the street, and it will tell you the addresses of the buildings that it sees and offer information on the buildings’ tenants.

What is happening is that your phone camera is performing image recognition in real time and then doing a look-up of information. It all sounds pretty straightforward. Your Galaxy S7 has a high-resolution camera along with massive amounts of processing power and the connectivity to get real-time information. Augmented reality apps are just around the corner.

A word of caution though: Augmented reality has been just around the corner for at least a decade. This is a really cool idea, and it makes for a really interesting demonstration with prototypes. However, we are still waiting for good implementations.

It is likely that the first successful implementations will be on a small scale, such as an art museum offering an app that would allow you to use your camera to tell you the pieces of art you are looking at as you stroll through the galleries.

Other implementations could be augmented shopping. Say that it is time to refurnish your living room. You no longer have to imagine how that furniture you see in the store would fit. You take a 360 degree shot of the room you want to redo. You virtually toss out the old sofa and put in the new one you see at the showroom. It is properly sized within your room as you rearrange the layout. This is far more convenient than having them deliver the sofa in the “meat” world only to find that the new furniture does not fit.

More and Better Health Sensors

Chapter 16 mentions the health and fitness sensors that are starting to come on the market. These are just the beginning.

Currently, you can get devices that track a single function, such as heartbeat or the oxygen level in your blood. There are prototypes of multifunction devices that track several vital signs.

One factor that helps drive this market is that the number of smartphone users has been growing like gangbusters over the past few years. The number of smartphones sold exceeded the number of dumb phones as of 2014 and shows no sign of slowing. Phones without health sensors are now the exception rather than the rule.

Finally, these devices have the potential to improve your health. It won’t be too long before first responders can have the information to render better services faster because they’ll know many of the patient’s vital signs (via smartphone) before they even leave the station.

Better 911 Services

The 911 system has been keeping the United States safe for more than 45 years. The dirty secret of this service is that the underlying technology used to communicate information on the caller’s location hasn’t been updated in a long time.

To put this in perspective, your smartphone is designed to work with data at up to 300 million bits per second. When you call 911, the phone that answers your call is designed to work with data at up to 120 bits per second. (Seriously. I am not making this up.)

Many states and regions are trying to address this problem. This effort is called next-generation 911, or NG911. NG911 promises to make the information you already have on your phone available to the people who are sending you help. This new technology is slowly being implemented region by region in different states and counties.

For example, most 911 dispatchers can’t access the data from the health sensors described in the previous section. With NG911, you can set up your phone so that first responders receive your vital signs and EKG the moment they get the call to respond to your emergency.

With a larger data pipeline between your smartphone and the first responders, you can send anything that’s relevant, including medical history, your emergency contacts, insurance data, and whether you have any protection orders against stalkers. All this information can help you — and it’s available right away because regardless of where you happen to be, your phone is typically there with you.

Less Worry about Charging

Samsung is highly focused on addressing the complaint many consumers have about the need to pay attention to charging. The battery technology in the S7 and the S7 Edge is denser and larger. The fast charging with wireless is impressive. Finally, while there are lots of portable chargers on the market, Samsung went so far as to introduce its own portable chargers.

The one flat note in the fast charging story is that the S7 uses the slower micro-USB connector. If it had used the micro-USB Type-C to include smart charging, it would have had a perfectly consistent story.

As it is, even with all these heroic efforts and multiple options, keeping your phone charged requires attention. The future holds the promise that one day wireless options will be so ubiquitous that we as users won’t have to worry about this. Our phones will be charged and maintain that charge without the need for much attention or action.

Information Finder

Your smartphone, which is turned on all the time, is very handy if you just need to know the location of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games or the title of Virginia Madsen’s first movie. (By the way, it’s Lillehammer, Norway, and the 1983 movie Class.)

On the other hand, if you want to write a research report on the relative merits of a flat tax compared to a value-added tax, you’re probably better off working on a PC. This latter project is best done with a full keyboard and large screen. The time to turn on the PC, watch it boot up, sign in, and connect with the Internet is small when compared to the time spent doing the research and writing.

In between these extremes, your phone is increasingly becoming the preferred tool for accessing information. The ergonomics of the screen, the convenience of the search tools, and the availability of applications all contribute to your phone being the primary source of daily information in lieu of your PC.

What this means to you is that your investment in your next PC should take into account how you use your smartphone. You may need less PC, depending on your information-collection habits.