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Samsung is trying to cram a Genius Bar into this app

Samsung is trying to cram a Genius Bar into this app

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One of the big advantages to buying an Apple product is Apple's unparalleled support system. Should you have trouble with your iPhone, you can walk into any Apple Store and receive one-on-one help and tutelage. Other device makers don't have Apple's network of stores and support, and if you have a problem with a non-Apple phone, you have to go through your carrier for any help.

Samsung is trying to take more direct charge of its device support with the Samsung+ app, and today it is pushing a big update to the app with even more support-focused features. Samsung+ is compatible with virtually every Galaxy device dating back to the Galaxy S2 and offers both text-based and video chat support.

Chances are you're not too familiar with Samsung+ — it's not preinstalled on every device and Samsung hasn't been actively promoting it. But it is available from the Play Store, and with today's updates, will likely be featured in Samsung's marketing more often in the future.

The headline feature in today's update is Samsung Assist, which lets support agents control the device remotely to fix issues. Initially available on the S7 and S7 edge, Samsung Assist is similar to Amazon's MayDay feature on Fire Tablets or the many support services available for Windows PCs. Once connected, agents can remotely change the settings on the device or walk users through tasks they are having trouble with. Any areas of the phone that contain private information, such as the messaging or gallery apps, are off limits to Samsung Assist agents until users explicitly grant permission.

Samsung+ app diagnostics

In addition, Samsung+ offers on-demand answers to common questions, a diagnostics tool to spot potential device issues, and a built-in community section for crowd-based support. It has an optional floating bubble that can provide one-click access to support services regardless of what you are doing on your phone. Samsung says it has integrated its services with the various carrier support systems, so if you get to the point where you need to swap your device or are having an issue with a carrier-specific service, Samsung's agents can transfer you over.

An agent can connect directly to your device to fix problems

Samsung is also using the app as a central database for all of its products, so if you own a bunch of Samsung appliances and devices, you can use the one app to get support for all of them. Samsung+ also gives owners access to Samsung-sponsored content and events, as well as tips and tricks tailored for their specific devices.

Samsung's app-based solution isn't nearly as comprehensive as Apple's support network, and if you do have an actual hardware issue, you'll still need to deal with your carrier for warranty and insurance support. But it is a step closer toward Samsung owning its entire product experience, from the point of sale through the lifespan of the device. And without a bunch of physical stores of its own, this might be Samsung best option at competing against Apple's Genius Bar.