Mobile Digest: Samsung looks to regain its luster with new Galaxy S8 smartphone

The battery fires and costly recalls of 2016 have Samsung reeling. Can the Galaxy S8 restore the order? Andrew Tolve reports.

In the news

 

Samsung’s quest to restore credibility and regain consumer confidence began last week with the launch of the Galaxy S8 smartphone at a Samsung Unpacked event in New York City. The phone carries the double baggage of being Samsung’s new flagship phone and the first major release for the company following the epic battery burning debacle of 2016, which cost Samsung $26 billion in value plus $9.5 billion in lost sales. The Galaxy S8 wears all of that on its shoulders, and wears it well. The phone sports an infinity display with rounded edges. Users can unlock the phone with facial recognition or a fingerprint scan. The S8 is the first Samsung phone to introduce Bixby, Samsung’s new virtual personal assistant, who is location aware and can do everything from recommend a great restaurant near you to perform perfunctory tasks like marking a meeting in your calendar. The phone also docks in a station called the DeX, which transforms the phone into a desktop. All in all, it sounds like a heck of a mobile device — barring it doesn’t catch on fire.

 

In the money

 

Amazon launched Amazon Cash, an easy way for people to add money to their Amazon.com balance by bringing cold hard cash to a participating brick-and-mortar store. All they have to do is flash a barcode to the checkout clerk, which Amazon delivers via text message. Customers can add anywhere from $15 to $500 in one deposit. The hope is to bring those without credit cards into the thick of online shopping, with a special focus on developing countries. The service launched in the U.S. with participating retailers like CVS, Speedway and Kum & Go.

 

In other news

 

YouTube launched its new TV streaming service in the U.S. complete with more than 50 channels for $35 a month. That includes all the major networks and access to unlimited YouTube Red Originals. YouTube TV will have plenty of competition as it seeks to wrest market control from the likes of SlingTV from Dish, DirecTV Now from AT&T, and PlayStation Vue from Sony. YouTube TV is live in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. 

 

Android has overtaken Windows as the most popular operating system in the world in terms of total internet usage, according to data analytics firm StatCounter. The study was performed across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile combined, revealing just how weighted the world has become toward mobile usage. Microsoft has led the OS wars since the 1980s, when it commanded more than 80% marketshare. Now it’s dropped to 37.91% and Android has climbed to 37.93%.

 

Twitter launched a new Twitter Lite version of itself for users with slow mobile networks, expensive data plans and little spare storage on their mobile devices. The iteration targets developing countries in particular, where features like being able to select data saver mode, which further reduces the amount of mobile data used, could be the difference between daily or weekly or even monthly usage. Twitter Lite loads 30% faster and takes up less than 1MB on your phone.

 

Cable company Comcast jumped into the wireless service sector with the launch of Xfinity Mobile. The idea is to anchor smartphone plans around Comcast’s 4G LTE network (the largest in the U.S.) alongside its 16 million existing Wi-Fi hotspots to provide consumers with a better wireless experience, for less money, on today’s most popular devices. Comcast is famous for its lowly customer satisfaction and service, so whether it can pull it off is a different story. Unlimited data plans cost $65 a line.

 

Having trouble keeping track of all those mobile devices and assets across your organization? Wireless networking company Mist launched a new solution that lets you easily track your devices in real-time using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. That means you can locate employees in an emergency, check-in visitors automatically, easily find available conference rooms and measure traffic patterns for accurate resource planning.

 

Despite all the talk about the importance of collaboration and how mobile technologies enable it, companies are failing at it, according to a global survey of 4100 executives and employees sponsored by SAP and Oxford Economics. Only 24% of executives and 20% of employees indicated their organization rates collaboration as a fundamental skill. Moreover, workers rated their managers poorly in areas like approachability and openness to new ideas and say that their companies rarely emphasize digital devices as instruments for improved collaboration.

 

On the connected car front, Daimler announced that it plans to have a Level 5, fully self-driving vehicle on the road by 2021 and is partnering with Bosch to deliver on the promise. Before you start funneling money into a savings account for your new Benz, understand that Daimler’s intentions, like those of Ford, BMW and other carmakers gunning for the 2021 deadline, is to put self-driving taxis on the road to tap into the ridesharing market. Fully self-driving cars for consumers like you won't trundle off factory lines until 2025 or later. 

 

Finally, navigation app Waze now allows drivers to order ahead at Dunkin’ Donuts. They don’t even have to leave the navigation screen so long as they also have the Dunkin' Donuts app downloaded on their phones. The service builds on Waze’s existing advertising agreement with Dunkin’ Donuts and is likely just the tip of the iceberg in terms of in-app ordering at locations near where you’re driving. It’s a heck of an idea, except for the fact that drivers are supposed to be focusing on driving and all …

 

The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.