What is Galaxy AI, the biggest takeaway from 2024's first Samsung Unpacked?

The company wants to bring generative AI to more consumers and help them with their tasks

Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
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Generative artificial intelligence is all the buzz now, and Samsung's new Galaxy S24 series, launched on Wednesday, is powered by its new Galaxy AI platform.

This is a clear signal that the race is on to integrate the emerging technology into more consumer-oriented devices.

"We now expect to see the emergence of smartphones optimised to run generative AI models in addition to the normal use of AI in smartphones," Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint Research, previously told The National.

What is Galaxy AI?

Galaxy AI is aimed at helping users for certain tasks, from live translations and transcriptions in chats and calls, to editing images and searching with images.

It is powered by Samsung's Gauss machine learning platform, which it launched in November – indicating its official entry into the generative AI race.

The company had teased Galaxy AI in the days leading up to the Galaxy S24's launch, and will open experience zones at select cities across the world, including Dubai, to show more details.

This is Samsung's way of helping consumers understand generative AI's capabilities – in a secure way – and how they can benefit from it, said Omar Saheb, chief marketing officer of Samsung Mena.

"Consumers obviously will not know until they try it. Right now, a lot of the AI adoption has been quite fast and quite rapid – but they haven't tried everything," Mr Saheb told The National in San Jose, where Samsung introduced the Galaxy S24.

"Maybe they've tried conversational AI. So as consumers start to use it and they see how it supports and enhances their productivity. They will be able to overcome any concerns that they have because, in reality, it's all covered."

Galaxy AI can do a lot of things. To be fair, these are not new, but Samsung promotes the platform as being an improvement to the ones that exist now.

Live translation in different languages

Want to make a reservation in a restaurant or schedule a cab ride, but you're in a place where your primary language isn't widely used? Galaxy AI can help you with it.

Just start a call, set the languages you require and start talking. Galaxy AI display will translate your conversation in real time and display it on your Galaxy S24 device.

The translations are not instant, but do not take too long. And they are pretty accurate, as The National witnessed at a display.

At launch, 13 languages are supported – simplified Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.

Samsung says more languages will be added over time, "based on consumer needs".

Photo manipulation

A key aspect of generative AI has been its ability to manipulate images, and Galaxy AI offers functionality to support such advanced picture edits.

Want a person in a different position? Galaxy AI can move them for you. Unwanted obstructions in your photo? It can remove them.

Just select the elements you want modified by drawing a line around them. The bits not required are removed and Galaxy AI will add generated content into those spaces.

And to ensure transparency and avoid misinformation, metadata is produced and a watermark is placed to indicate that the image has been enhanced or manipulated.

Learn everything about anything

See something that you would want more information on or want to buy? Galaxy AI will use Circle to Search, powered by Google, to provide the details.

Circle to Search was announced by Google this week, as the company aims to attract more users by modifying how they interact with search engines.

Sneak peek into the all-new Galaxy 24's lineup at Samsung Unpacked

Sneak peek into the all-new Galaxy 24's lineup at Samsung Unpacked

The feature will allow users to search for information on their Android smartphones without switching apps. They can do it by using intuitive gestures such as circling, highlighting, scribbling or just tapping, the company said.

On a Galaxy S24 device, take a photo of the subject you're interested in and draw a circle around it to find out more details.

For example, if you see a pair of shoes, just do the above and Galaxy AI will provide more information, including prices and where you could get them.

The feature also applies to a fancy restaurant or a landmark.

Circle to Search is also available on Google's own Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphones.

Productivity assistants on AI steroids

AI assistants for productivity are nothing new, but Samsung has its own spin on it.

Galaxy AI's Interpreter will instantly translate conversations on a split-screen view so people standing opposite each other can read a text transcription of what the other person has said – even without cellular data or Wi-Fi.

Chat Assist, meanwhile, will help set the mood: Samsung says it can "perfect" conversational tones to ensure communication sounds as it was intended.

You do not want to get lost in translation and, as the adage says – it's not what you said, but how you said it.

On Samsung Notes, Galaxy AI features Note Assist, a template creator that streamlines notes with pre-made formats, and cover creation, which makes notes easy to spot with a brief preview.

For voice recordings, Transcript Assist will be able to transcribe, summarise and even translate recordings using AI and speech-to-text technology – even if there are several people talking.

There is also something for when you are on the road: in your car, Android Auto can automatically summarise incoming messages and suggest relevant replies and actions, like sending someone your estimated time of arrival.

Will it all pay off?

At this point, it is unclear how much of an impact generative AI will have on the smartphone market, which has experienced declining growth over the past two years.

Generative AI smartphones are expected to have taken a 4 per cent share of the total market in 2023 (47 million shipments) and this is likely to double this year, according to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint.

Samsung is expected to capture half of this market this year followed by Chinese makers Xiaomi, Vivo, Honor and Oppo, it added.

"The lack of substantial technological innovations, coupled with a shift from fixed contracts to flexible arrangements, contributed to the deceleration of smartphone sales," Anshul Gupta, a vice president analyst at Gartner, previously told The National.

"The introduction of AI or generation AI-enabled devices is expected to bring only incremental benefits until 2025, resulting in minimal short-term impact on demand.”

Updated: January 18, 2024, 5:54 AM