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Samsung Developer Conference 2023: Everything Announced at the Event

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Samsung Developer Conference 2023: Everything Announced at the Event


Samsung Developer Conference 2023 (SDC23) took place on October 5, where the South Korean tech giant announced a number of security updates and features in order to protect the private data of its users. The company introduced Knox Matrix last year in order to keep the devices of a user safe and connected. Samsung has now added some news updates to the Knox Matrix, along with the rollout of One UI 6 on Galaxy devices. The company also unveiled its Galaxy SmartTag2 at the event, which will have a global launch on October 11. 

Samsung recently hosted the ninth edition of its SDC, which witnessed a number of announcements for enhanced security and data protection. To start with, the company announced a new One UI 6 for Galaxy devices. The new user interface includes a revamped Quick Panel that makes it easier to access apps. It also comes with smart photo editing tools with Samsung Studio. 

The SmartThings Home API makes it easier for developers to create apps that provide connectivity to smart home devices. The SmartThings Hub on Samsung will now be extended to new products, which include soundbars and smart TVs. The company also introduced the Galaxy SmartTag2 at the conference, which provides a battery life of up to 700 days in low-power mode. 

With Bixby, the company plans to add more command control to multiple devices. It will also be soon providing a personalised experience for each user. As mentioned above, the company has added a few updates to Knox Matrix with credential Sync and Trust Chain features. This helps in keeping several devices connected to each other and also warns users when any device is hacked or potentially harmed. 

Samsung is also bringing its Knox Vault to more devices now, including Galaxy A series smartphones that get One UI 6 or later. For health safety, the company has added new apps and features like Samsung Food and Samsung Privileged Health SDK to make it easier for users to manage their diet and health. 


Samsung launched the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 alongside the Galaxy Tab S9 series and Galaxy Watch 6 series at its first Galaxy Unpacked event in South Korea. We discuss the company’s new devices and more on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Review: A Reliable Choice

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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Review: A Reliable Choice


Amazon introduced its first Fire TV Stick in India in 2017. Back then, smart TVs were expensive, fewer brands were manufacturing them, and the proliferation of over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms was relatively low. In such a market, a streaming device that can be plugged into any television with an HDMI port to access not only streaming apps but also games was a lucrative proposition.

Things, however, have changed significantly in 2024. On the one hand, OTT platforms have massively grown in number and offer a wide range of exclusive content. On the other hand, smart TVs have become relatively cheaper, and many new brands have entered the market, making them more accessible to the masses. As per a report by the Internet in India Report 2023, conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar, a massive 707 million users in India engage with OTT platforms. The total number of streaming platforms has also grown to 57, according to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

In conditions like these, where it would appear that the usefulness of a third-party streaming device might be reduced, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K made its debut. Priced at Rs. 5,999, the device supports 4K resolution content (2160p) along with HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and more. It also offers the entire Amazon Appstore library with more than 12,000 apps.

For the last fortnight, I have been using the streaming device to find out whether what it offers is enough to make it relevant at a time when it faces competition not only from other streaming devices but also from the growing number of smart TVs that offer the same experience integrated within the television. So, let’s get down to the brass tacks.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Design and Remote

The basic design from the first generation of the Fire TV Stick has yet to see many upgrades over the years, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K continues the tradition. You get the same matte black rectangular device (which now gets curved edges) with the Fire TV logo on the top and an HDMI port at the front. If the HDMI port doesn’t easily plug in, an HDMI extender gives you that extra bit of flexibility.

The new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K remote

 

On the side, there is a Micro-USB port for power. Some TVs might be able to power the device using the USB port if it provides enough power. Mine could not, so the charger in the box came in handy, and I was able to power it by plugging it into a power source.

The remote has also seen minor improvements compared to the previous Fire Stick 4K that came out in 2019. It now features dedicated app buttons for Prime Video, Netflix, and Amazon Music. A fourth button directly takes you to the installed apps. A live TV button and a dedicated Alexa button replace the older voice control button. The functionality remains the same; however, I found Alexa much more capable.

In the previous review, Gadgets 360 found that if the searched content was not from Prime Video, the virtual assistant would only pop up the app at best. However, now, it can bring up the title card from Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, Jio Cinema, and YouTube (these were the apps I frequently used). Apart from that, the rest of the remote is pretty standard.

In terms of installation and usage, Fire TV is very easy to use. The installation process, including all the OS-based updates, took me about 15 minutes. All you have to do is plug it into your TV, connect the power source, and follow the instructions on the screen. It is a device that is meant to be plugged in and forgotten.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Interface

Running on the Fire OS, the user interface is not drastically different from the standard Android TV experience. You get the same tile-based layout and horizontal scrolling interface showcasing shows, movies, and apps. There are Home, Find, and Live TV sections and an easy-to-access app library. The Settings icon is also placed conveniently on top, and since the remote does not have a Settings button, its placement helps switch around stuff.

fire tv stick2 4k Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K interface

 

Amazon also has a good recommendation algorithm that suggests content from different OTT platforms, even if you have not installed them. You will see recently watched shows, recommendations from Netflix, free movies and TV programmes, and genre-wise categories. However, being an Amazon product, there is a bias for its content. For example, only the Prime Video content is labelled 4K on the home screen. For everything else, you will have to click on the content’s tile and check the details.

You can also directly jump to Prime Video content from the recommendation section on the home screen, but for any other app, you’ll encounter a description screen first. Also, Prime Video dominates the top half of the page where featured content is shown.

However, I did not find any of it an inconvenience since I watch a fair bit of shows and movies on Prime Video. The integration helped me discover newer content to watch and allowed me to play it quickly. Those who are not fans of the Prime Video library might be better served by Mi TV Stick or the default Android TV/Google TV.

Overall, the interface is snappy, responsive, and quite reliable over extended usage. I rarely encountered any glitches or issues.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Performance

Now, let’s get to the performance. On paper, this is the most powerful streaming device by Amazon available in India. It supports up to Wi-Fi 6 (both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands) and Bluetooth 5.0. It also gets up to HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos audio support to pair with the 4K Ultra-HD video quality support. The device offers an inbuilt storage of 8GB.

fire tv stick3 4k Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

IPL 2024 finale using Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

 

I have been using this device for more than two weeks on my Redmi Fire TV and have been pleased with its consistent performance. Whether I was catching up on episodes of Shogun, enjoying the comedy-drama Laapataa Ladies, or binge-watching Spy x Family anime, the video quality was crisp and bright, and the lighter and darker areas could be distinguished very easily. Even the darker scenes were well-lit and made for delightful viewing. Surprisingly, the OS performance of the Fire TV Stick 4K was snappier than my inbuilt Fire OS.

However, note that 4K video support will require faster internet connectivity, and the video stream may struggle if the connection is not stable or slow. Further, the overall video quality depends on the TV you’re using. It goes without saying that a premium TV with 4K support will present better visuals than a TV without it.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Verdict

As stated above, my goal with this review was to understand if the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K really offers enough to make the device a relevant and necessary purchase. After using it extensively, my answer is a resounding yes.

Even in a world where smart TVs can be found for less than Rs. 15,000, they are not all built equally. Some have poor memory, while others are affected by sub-par OS experience. With many people still using TVs with old-smarts and no-smarts, Amazon’s streaming device fills the gap of needing to replace reliable television hardware for software deficiencies.

The Fire TV Stick 4K offers solid performance with its OS interface, performance, and picture quality. But even more than that, what it truly offers is reliability. While I have experienced glitches with my Redmi smart TV and even my parents’ Sony Bravia, I never faced even a small issue with it. From navigating across different apps to watching shows and movies, the experience was seamless. A good streaming device, in my opinion, should be unnoticeable when watching the TV, and the Fire TV Stick 4K did exactly that.

If you do not own a smart TV or are struggling with a few-year-old smart TV that has started slowing down, the Fire TV Stick could be a good way to extend the TV’s life without compromising the viewing experience.


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Amazon Plans to Offer Improved AI-Powered Alexa at an Extra Cost: Report

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Amazon Plans to Offer Improved AI-Powered Alexa at an Extra Cost: Report


Amazon is reportedly working on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities within its cloud-based voice assistant, Alexa, but users might have to pay more before they can avail of its services. The Seattle-based tech giant has been planning to enhance the capabilities of its virtual voice assistant since 2023, likely to not fall behind the likes of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini. But a new report now highlights that while Alexa might get smarter, it will not be bundled with the standard Amazon Prime subscription.

Amazon to make Alexa smarter

Last month, Amazon published a post in its newsroom titled “CEO Andy Jassy’s 2023 Letter to Shareholders”. The long post detailed the tech giant’s vision for the next financial year and strategies that it plans to implement to stay ahead of the curve. In the post, the CEO stated that the company was working on building “an even more intelligent and capable Alexa”.

It is believed that the company could leverage its in-house Titan family of large language models (LLMs) that it has been working on for a while. Some of the released AI models also come with multimodal capabilities, making them the right fit for a service like Alexa. However, Amazon is keeping the potential new features of Alexa under wraps for now.

Some rumours suggest that Alexa could get a better conversational capability rivalling GPT-4o or Gemini 1.5 Pro. Further, it could also become more efficient at handling complicated tasks and understanding commands given in contextual language.

AI-powered Alexa could require another subscription

At present, access to the basic functionalities of Alexa is free and anyone can access it. Some of its more premium use cases might require an Amazon Prime subscription (for Prime Music, Prime Video, and more). However, according to a report by CNBC, the company might put the AI-powered capabilities of Alexa behind another subscription.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the report claimed that Amazon is not considering bundling the upgraded Alexa with the Prime subscription. The reason behind this decision is that running servers for AI computing can be expensive. As per the report, the tech giant might be shelling out about $0.02 (roughly Rs. 1.50) per query, which could add up quickly. As a result, internally a price point of $20 (roughly Rs. 1,770) a month has been considered. However, the company has reportedly not reached any conclusions yet.


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Apple Could Launch Second Generation AirTag Next Year: Report

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Apple Could Launch Second Generation AirTag Next Year: Report


Apple is reportedly working on the next generation of AirTag which may arrive in the middle of 2025. As per the report, the Cupertino-based tech giant has begun conducting test runs of the new device. The second-generation AirTag could feature a new chipset with better location tracking as well as some other quality-of-life features. Notably, this will be the first upgrade to AirTag, which was launched in April 2021. Apart from this, Apple is also rumoured to make several AI-focused announcements at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024 scheduled for June 10.

The information comes from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman who claimed in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter that Apple is currently running tests on the next iteration of AirTag. These tests are being run with its offshore manufacturers in Asia, with planned production expected for later this year. This also corroborates with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s report in October 2023 who reported in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) that “The mass production schedule for AirTag 2 has been postponed to 2025”.

Gurman claims that the second-generation AirTag is internally known by the codename B589. Reportedly, the tracking device could get a new chipset that offers better location tracking. The report further highlights improved battery life, louder speaker, and a more portable design for wallets. It would also be interesting to see if Apple implements any anti-stalking measures at the hardware level, given the controversies the first-generation device caused, and the multiple lawsuits Apple faced as a result of it.

In the original leak, Kuo claimed that the AirTag 2 was scheduled to enter mass production in the fourth quarter of 2024, which would have seen it be launched during the company’s March event. However, with the new timeline, it could arrive during WWDC 2025 or even later.

Separately, Apple is also expected to make several AI-focused announcements at WWDC 2024. With less than a month to go, reports have claimed that the iPhone maker is facing pressure from rivals unveiling multiple new AI advancements, and wants to close the gap. Siri could get a major overhaul and get AI integration. The Safari browser is also expected to get new AI features.


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