X
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Set up and use Group Play on the Samsung Galaxy S4 (pictures)

Samsung's Group Play feature can turn a room full of Galaxy S4 phones into a mini gaming competition or a silent disco. Here's how.

jessica-dolcourt-6462
jessica-dolcourt-6462
Jessica Dolcourt
P1020672.jpg
1 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Group Play makes a party

Group Play is one of the most social new features on Samsung's Galaxy S4 smartphone. Open it up and it essentially turns a group of nearby Galaxy S4 phones into a network.

What can you do on that network? Share photos and documents, blast music across devices like an integrated speaker system, and host a multiplayer game, like a poker tournament.

GroupPlay_Join_Create.jpg
2 of 10 Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Step 1: Create or join a group

Samsung makes the setup process simple, which is a nice change from the complicated version of this app that rolled out last year with the Galaxy S3.

Here, you either join a group or you create one, starting with a single tap.

GroupPlay_Password.jpg
3 of 10 Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Step 2: Enter your password

Whomever starts the group picks the password, and it can be as simple or complex as you'd like. Since Group Play uses Wi-Fi Direct to link the phones, you'll be near enough to just tell others what the password is to join the group.

Password control makes it easy for more than one distinct group to share the same space without interfering.

GroupPlay_ShareMenu.jpg
4 of 10 Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Step 3: Choose your content type

A simple list tells you what you can share from the master phone to the rest, and also helps you access the music tracks, pictures, documents, or games.

You'll be able to share photos and documents with Galaxy S3 phones, but only Galaxy S4 phones work with gaming and music sharing.

P1020670.jpg
5 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Step 5: Pick your poison

After picking the type of content you want to broadcast, you'll select the actual item to share. In this scenario, it's a photo from the gallery. And that's it!
P1020663.jpg
6 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Music time

Samsung has added some really neat visualizations when sharing music across S4 phones. The colorful rings pulse with sound and light, changing hues as the song plays.
GroupPlay_Music.jpg
7 of 10 Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse

Here's another view of Group Play's way with music.
GroupPlay_SpeakerControl.jpg
8 of 10 Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Deeper controls

The group leader, the one who created the wireless access point, has total control over the volume and placement of each phone, which is, in effect, a speaker.
GroupPlay_MasterVolume.jpg
9 of 10 Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Calling the shots

When multiple people join a group, the leader has exclusive control over the sliding dials for the master volume and for each participant. As a node in a larger network, as long as you're part of a group, your speaker volume isn't your own.
GroupPlay_Poker.jpg
10 of 10 Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Gaming: A full house

This is what gaming looks like when a bunch of people play together using Group Play. You all see the same moves on your Galaxy S4 screen, which makes for a pretty fun little diversion if you and your friends all happen to have the same phone.

The GS4 requirement is a limiting factor, to be sure, but knowing Samsung, there's a good chance it will migrate Group Play capabilities to its cadre of mobile devices, like the next Galaxy Note smartphones and tablets for a start.

More Galleries

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone

18 Photos
Go Inside the Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro: See How the New iPhones Look and Work
iphone 15 in different color from an angled view

Go Inside the Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro: See How the New iPhones Look and Work

21 Photos
Astronomy Photographer of the Year Winners Reveal Our Stunning Universe
andromeda

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Winners Reveal Our Stunning Universe

16 Photos
I Got an Early Look at Intel's Glass Packaging Tech for Faster Chips
Rahul Manepalli, right, Intel's module engineering leader, shows a glass substrate panel before it's sliced into the small rectangles that will be bonded to the undersides of hundreds of test processors. The technology, shown here at Intel's CH8 facility in Chandler, Arizona, stands to improve performance and power consumption of advanced processors arriving later this decade. Glass substrates should permit physically larger processors comprised of several small "chiplets" for AI and data center work, but Intel expects they'll trickle down to PCs, too.

I Got an Early Look at Intel's Glass Packaging Tech for Faster Chips

20 Photos
Check Out the iPhone 15's New Camera in Action
A photo of a silhouette of buildings on the water taken on the iPhone 15

Check Out the iPhone 15's New Camera in Action

12 Photos
Disney Treasure Cruise Ship: Bookings Now Open for $9K+ Maiden Voyage
disney-treasure-tomorrow-tower-suite-3

Disney Treasure Cruise Ship: Bookings Now Open for $9K+ Maiden Voyage

16 Photos
Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)
yamaha01.jpg

Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

16 Photos