Samsung just announced the 2018 version of its Family Hub smart refrigerator, and this year’s model adds deeper support for Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant and even adds SmartThings integration and AKG speakers “for sound that is deep in bass and rich in mid-range.” We might be running out of things to add to a refrigerator.
The new Family Hub can connect to and control third-party devices that are part of the SmartThings smart home ecosystem such as lights, thermostats, home video cameras, and more. So from this fridge’s screen, you can adjust a SmartThings-compatible thermostat or view what’s happening outside your front door or in another room of the house with a SmartThings-compatible camera. (There’s still a camera built into the inside of the fridge so you can get a quick peek at what you need from your smartphone at the grocery store.)
Bixby was previously added to Family Hub fridges, but it only handled basic voice commands. This year’s fridge gets the full capabilities of Samsung’s rival to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. In its refrigerator form, Bixby can recognize individual voices of the different people you live with to provide personalized results. So the morning readout that happens when you ask “Hi Bixby, what’s new?” will theoretically feature the correct calendar appointments and not someone else’s. I say theoretically because everyone (including Samsung) knows Bixby still needs much improvement to catch up with the competition.
As for those speakers, you can use them to play content from one of the built-in apps like Pandora, or instead stream content from your smartphone to the fridge, which is a new feature for 2018. Samsung has also added two new food-centric apps: Meal Planner is a food management app that provides recipes while accounting for food preferences and dietary restrictions. And a new Deals app “gives users the ability to find great bargains and save them directly to the Shopping List or loyalty card.” That also sounds like a way for brands to buy their way onto your smart fridge.
The 2018 Family Hub line of refrigerators will launch this spring, though Samsung isn’t yet disclosing pricing.