Samsung’s Galaxy S line has been a big hit, particularly with its GS2 and GS3 smartphones in recent years. The GS4 has distinctive Samsung software, some of which GS3 owners will receive (other features will not arrive on the GS3), and its new software features (particularly in the area of the camera app) make the GS4 a work of Samsung’s — a work, that, if you watched the presentation, moved away from a discussion of Android software and focused on Samsung’s software. Samsung made a bold statement with the GS4: the Korean manufacturer is committed to its own work; as for Android, the OS is necessary for Samsung’s platform. That, however, may change, as Samsung’s Tizen smartphones are released later this year.
While Samsung released its new GS4 with some software differences, there is one thing that remains the same (in addition to hardware): Samsung decided to introduce another exclusive app into its Galaxy collection — an app that exists only for GS4 owners. Last year, Samsung released Flipboard for Android with its GS3. Flipboard is an app I recommend for all smartphone users. It is an app that provides a multitude of news sources from around the country and world. You can select your favorite news topics, sources, and even create a Flipboard account with your username and password. Once you do, you can even log in to Google + and “+1″ an article that you like or find interesting. I don’t know where I would be without Flipboard.
The GS4 will have a new app called TripAdvisor. The TripAdvisor app will show the TripAdvisor site, but the app is devoted to helping consumers arrange their vacations. Samsung’s new “Story Album” feature allows consumers the opportunity to have all their pictures (taken on vacation) to be put in the same album instead of being organized haphazardly. TripAdvisor will be integrated into this new feature, allowing you the right to save the vacation spot photos (provided by TripAdvisor) to your photos, use them on your lock screen, use the vacation spots provided to find out more information or book a vacation, or read reviews and customer experiences within the Story Album feature. TripAdvisor integration will be similar to Apple’s Facebook integration into iOS6 — GS4 users will see TripAdvisor everywhere!
While I applaud Samsung for integrating a web application into its GS4 software, there’s a major difference between Flipboard and TripAdvisor: while TripAdvisor only appeals to a few individuals who can afford vacations, Flipboard provides all your latest news for free. Flipboard’s topic selection (music, politics, celebrity, gaming, technology, sports, etc.) provides something that everyone can enjoy, but TripAdvisor provides vacations that only the well-to-do (or those who can afford a vacation at a certain time of year) can enjoy. It is obvious that Samsung could take a cue here from last year’s Flipboard integration, as well as Apple’s Facebook and Twitter integrations. The goal of web app integration is to provide an application that every user can enjoy — a web app that makes each customer say, “Samsung has something in its GS4 for me!” Samsung does do this with its new camera features and Story Album, but having a more universally-appealing app would have further enriched the experience.
The GS4 is still an excellent phone, but not one that most GS3 users will switch to in order to have the latest tweaks to Samsung’s software. What about those of you who don’t own the GS3? Will you pick up the GS4 when it becomes available? What do you intend to do with your TripAdvisor app integration? Let us know in the comments below.