Samsung has jam-packed the Galaxy S4 with fancy features, but there’s one that stands out in making the new handset attractive to anyone who’s looking to buy a new phone and a TV in the near future.
The Galaxy S4’s WatchOn app functions to turn the phone into a remote control, relying on an inbuilt infrared-capable LED which lets the phone give commands to the TV, as well as set top boxes, Blu-ray players and other devices. WatchOn will also be available on the company’s new Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet.
All Samsung devices are naturally supported, and other brands’ devices should also be compatible — so theoretically, as long as you have the Galaxy S4 with you, you won’t need any other remote controls for your home theatre setup.
But what Samsung is banking on is the Galaxy S4’s WatchOn deeper integration with its 2013 Smart LED and plasma TVs. WatchOn will properly launch at the end of May, built around an electronic program guide (EPG) that will show you what’s on every free-to-air digital TV channel in your area.
This should tie in nicely with Samsung’s ‘S-Recommendation’ feature on its EPG, built into the Smart Hub of most of its Smart TVs, which will keep track of everything you watch, and then suggest more shows you might like. Integration between the two, and controlling your TV’s preferences from your phone, makes plenty of sense here.
Even cooler is the video-on-demand service launching on the Galaxy S4 in June as part of WatchOn. It’ll have access to the content of Australian TV catch-up services like ABC’s iView and SBS On Demand, relying on the same content that Samsung’s Smart TVs can access.
We’re not yet sure whether the Australian Galaxy S4 will let you buy movies through the WatchOn app via Samsung’s partner movie services like QuickFlix and BigPond Movies, like the phone will in the US, but we do know that it will be getting Foxtel Go in June, tying a single subscription in with the Foxtel Play you’ll see on new Samsung TVs.
This integration between smartphone and TV is something that Samsung can push heavily to convince consumers to buy multiple mobile devices and higher-value TVs. It’s already number one in both markets, so the closer link should drive sales even higher.