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03.20.17 | 11:35 am

Samsung’s Bixby is coming to take on Siri and Alexa

Samsung will diverge from Apple, Amazon, and Google with its upcoming Bixby virtual assistant. Instead of having a distinct set of voice skills, Samsung wants Bixby to have deep ties into the apps you already use, letting you control them entirely by voice. The hope is to let users switch between touch and voice on the fly, without having to remember whether a given task supports voice commands.

To help prod Bixby adoption, Samsung will include an activation button on the side of its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, and pre-install some Bixby-enabled apps. But the company will ultimately need to convince other app makers that its assistant is worth supporting. In the meantime, Samsung is cautioning that the initial release is a "first step."

Also of note: Bixby doesn't yet integrate with Viv, the AI firm Samsung acquired last year after an impressive public demo.

03.01.17 | 5:54 am

Here’s what the Samsung Galaxy S8 looks like

Mobile phone leaker extraordinaire Evan Blass posted what seems to be an official press image of Samsung's next flagship (and the rival to Apple's upcoming iPhone 8).

02.15.17 | 3:54 pm

Imports report suggests Samsung sold more phones in the U.S. than Apple in Q4 2016

New data from Panjiva shows that smartphone shipments to the U.S. from South Korea and Vietnam (where Samsung phones are made) grew by 9.8% during the last three months of 2016. Meanwhile, Panjiva says, shipments from China (where the iPhone is made) declined by 3.4%. Based on these numbers, Panjiva floats the idea that Samsung sold more phones in the U.S. than Apple. Not enough data to confirm that, but interesting.  

02.10.17 | 7:40 am

Here’s what Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will likely be like

The company's newest flagship, expected to be unveiled next month, will include several new features, reports the Wall Street Journal:

• a virtual home button

• a new virtual assistant called Bixby

• a rear-facing fingerprint scanner

• a curved screen, with no flat screen option

• a headphone jack

01.20.17 | 7:21 am

“Irregularly sized” batteries are reportedly what caused Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to explode

Samsung will make an official statement as to the cause at a press conference on Monday, reports the Wall Street Journal. Until then, the Journal's sources are saying in most cases the "irregularly sized" batteries were to blame, as well as "manufacturing problems" with the batteries.

[Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

01.11.17 | 6:22 am

The FAA no longer requires airlines to notify passengers that the Note7 is banned on flights

The Samsung phone is still banned, but the FAA says airlines won't need to announce preflight public notifications about the ban any longer because public awareness of the Note 7's fire risk has reached a sufficient level.

[Image: Samsung]

12.08.16 | 7:09 am

The Samsung Galaxy S8 may have an edge-to-edge display

The company's flagship smartphone to be released next year will have an all-screen front with no physical home button, reports Bloomberg. The bezel-less displays will instead feature a virtual home button beneath the glass. Sources told Bloomberg that the new smartphone could ship in March or April—months before Apple is rumored to ship the next-generation iPhone with an edge-to-edge display and also a virtual home button.

12.06.16 | 1:56 pm

Supreme Court sides with Samsung on damages in ongoing patent infringement case

The case dates back to 2012, when a federal appeals court decided the Korean phone giant infringed on several of Apple's iPhone design patents. The patents describe broad inventions such as the arrangement of icons on the interface, and the rounded corners of the phone shell. The high court's decision today doesn't overturn the earlier decision against Samsung, but, rather, takes issue with the lower court's calculation of the $400 million in damages. 

It's still not clear whether the damages figure will be calculated on the whole of the profit Samsung gained by selling the infringing devices, or only part of the profits. The Supreme Court is saying either method could be used, and awaits further input from Apple and Samsung on the matter. In the mean time, the Court is sending the matter down to a federal circuit court to go through the process of deciding on a method and establishing damages.

Our friends at Co.Design have an interesting take on what the SCOTUS decision means for phone design. Check that out here

11.29.16 | 5:45 am

Samsung says it will consider splitting into two separate companies

The South Korean giant that makes everything from dishwashers to CPUs to smartphones told investors on Tuesday that it is considering splitting the company in two, reports Reuters. If the split goes through, one company would be a holding company, which would bring Samsung's various affiliates and sister companies under one name, and the other an operating company. The move is being considered in order to boost shareholder value. Shareholders argue that Samsung's current structure is too complex, which results in poor corporate governance and inefficient cash management and thus a stock price that is cheaper than it should be.

11.23.16 | 12:44 pm

Samsung will debut glossy black Galaxy S7 Edge next month

Samsung didn't fail to notice the popularity of Apple's new glossy black iPhone 7, so the Korean company will now release a shiny black version of its popular Galaxy S7 Edge phone, according to the Korea Herald. The new black S7 might give Samsung fans something to get excited about after months of talk about the exploding Galaxy Note 7 debacle. The company already has an Onyx Black S7 Edge, but that's a matte black color, while the new phone will be glossy. Samsung hopes to fire up sales to counter the popularity of the iPhone 7.

And new colors do work for Samsung. From the Korea Herald's report: "The Coral Blue version, since its launch on Nov. 11, is selling almost 15,000 units every day on average, while the iPhone 7 has seen its daily unit sales fall to about 10,000 units in recent weeks." 

11.21.16 | 4:32 pm

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 crisis doesn’t seem to have harmed the company’s reputation

Samsung held a worldwide recall of its Note 7 phones after some 35 of them blew up because of faulty batteries. The Note 7 was eventually pulled from the market and discontinued. Even after all the negative publicity, Samsung's reputation may not have been harmed very much, according to some new survey results from Reuters/Ipsos.

The survey found that 91% of current Samsung owners say they would likely buy another Samsung smartphone. It also found that 92% of current Samsung owners are likely to buy a Samsung product in any category. These loyalty numbers are very close to Apple's. Of people who own iPhones, 92% say they'd buy another one, and 89% would buy another Apple product of any kind.

11.15.16 | 6:40 pm

 Just because you call it a “killer app” doesn’t mean it is

A lot of smart people have said that, as great as consumer virtual reality can be, the various platforms (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Daydream, and Gear VR) are missing that terrific content that brings in hordes of users. You know, the old "killer app."

That's why Samsung has launched a search among developers for such an app. It stands to reason, then, that someone will win this contest, because contests have winners. But just because they win a "killer app" competition doesn't mean their work will, in fact, meet that standard. That's something only users can judge. Pokémon Go creator Niantic may have thought, "We have a killer app on our hands," but the massive hit couldn't have been called that fairly until after tens of millions of people became addicted.

Still, here's hoping Samsung turns up something great, and we're all playing with it soon.