April 13, 2014 in Business

Samsung packs on features on its new Galaxy S5 phone

Associated Press
 

There’s a lot to like about Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 smartphone – among them, its relative lack of features.

The company’s new flagship smartphone has plenty of innovations, including water resistance, a heart rate sensor and a fingerprint reader to bypass security passcodes. The screen measures 5.1 inches diagonally, which is slightly larger than its predecessor’s 5 inches and much bigger than the iPhone’s 4 inches. The S5’s camera is capable of taking 16 megapixel images, an improvement from 13 megapixels in last year’s Galaxy S4.

What’s most notable, though, is Samsung’s decision to focus on features people might actually want. Some of the S4’s features – such as automatic scrolling of content when you tilt your phone or head – came across as clutter or gimmicks that often didn’t work as advertised.

Samsung also simplified the phone’s interface. Like other Android phones, the S5 is still more complex to use than Apple’s iPhone, but the flip side is you get many more ways to customize it, including the ability to unlock a phone by drawing a pattern on the screen rather than using a passcode. In the S5, Samsung plays down or removes many of the S4’s less useful features, while rearranging the settings and layouts to make things easier to find.

Google Glass

A lot more people are about to get a chance to buy Google Glass, the Internet-connected eyewear that has become the hottest accessory in geek fashion.

Google will sell the “Explorer” version of Glass to any U.S. resident who places an online order for the device beginning at 9 a.m. PDT Tuesday. The product will cost $1,500, the same price that Google Inc. has charged for Glass since sales of the device began last year, the company said last week.

Tuesday’s sale will take place at http://google.com/ glass/start/how-to-get-one. Google isn’t saying how many sets of Glass will be available during the limited-time offer.

It marks the first time that Google has made Glass available to consumers without providing them special access. More than 10,000 sets of Glass have been sold to a select group of developers, contest winners and other invitees.

This version of Glass, though, still isn’t the polished product that Google hopes to release in stores later this year. Although it hasn’t provided specifics, Google has indicated that the mass-market version of Glass will sell for less than $1,500. Google is expected to provide more details about its Glass plans at its annual developers’ conference in late June.

For now, Google is still trying to recruit more people willing to serve as guinea pigs for its attempt build a wearable device that features some of the same features as a smartphone. The Explorer program for Glass has been serving as Google’s test lab.

“Our Explorers are moms, bakers, surgeons, rockers, and each new Explorer has brought a new perspective that is making Glass better,” Google said in a Thursday post on its Plus social networking service.

Glass looks like a pair of spectacles except the Explorer edition doesn’t contain any actual glass in the frame. Instead, the device has a thumbnail-sized screen attached above the right eye so a user can check email, see Twitter posts or get directions without having to grope for a phone.

It can also take hands-free photos and video through voice-activated commands. The ability to record images so easily – and perhaps secretly – has raised privacy and piracy concerns and has prompted some casinos, theaters and bars to ban the use of Glass on their property. Safety concerns have also been raised about drivers wearing Glass, prodding lawmakers to draw up new rules forbidding use of the device in moving vehicles.

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