Samsung is taking advantage of its latest marquee phone launch to expand on the "natural interactions" that the company first introduced with the Galaxy S III, as has been heavily rumored in the lead-up to today's reveal.
First up, the Galaxy S4 is borrowing "Air View" from the Galaxy Note II; the feature allows you to hover over certain items to preview content. In the Note II it functioned with the S Pen stylus, but the S4 now offers the same feature with your finger. It can be used to magnify webpages, bring up expanded information from emails and calendar events, preview videos, and expand galleries without opening them up. You can also get a pop-up of your appointments for the day by hovering over the calendar, and you can bring up a power control widget by hovering over the top right corner of the notification drawer. It's also been integrated into Flipboard — which originally launched on the Galaxy S III — and it allows you to peek at what's behind tiles in the app.
It started with the Galaxy S III, but Samsung isn't stopping there
A somewhat less useful-sounding feature is what the company is calling "Air Gestures." From a bit of a distance away, you can use gestures to change music tracks, accept phone calls, and move quickly to the bottom or top of a website. Samsung says the gestures are designed for "hands-free and hands-full" situations, like when you're carrying groceries.
The S4 also builds on the "Smart Stay" eye-tracking feature first introduced in the Galaxy S III. Now, instead of just keeping the screen on when you're reading text, the S4 will pause video when you look away from the device and turn it back on when you look back. Yes, it has its own Samsung-inspired name: "Smart Pause." The company is also rolling out "Smart Scroll," which allows you to scroll through content on the screen with your eyes and a twist of the wrist.
We'll need to spend some more time with the Galaxy S4 — and this new suite of software features — to render a judgment on the utility of it all, but Samsung has likely received positive feedback from the Galaxy S III if it's decided to expand on these "natural interactions."