The Galaxy S4's software up close

A spin through the Samsung Galaxy S4's new software, UI, and fresh features.

Jessica Dolcourt
Brian Bennett
1 of 27 Josh Miller/CNET

Inside Samsung's Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 may have all the high-octane components you could want -- including a galloping quad-core processor and a great 13-megapixel camera -- but it's equally defined by its abundance of software features.
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The camera good

A smartphone camera is one of our top buying considerations. The Galaxy S4 has onscreen controls. Tap the buttons to go into settings, or open the settings mode.
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Camera modes, new and old

Tap the Mode button to get to new settings like Drama and Animated Photo.
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Sound and Shot

This mode attaches 9 seconds of audio on top of a still photo. Unfortunately, the message plays only on a Galaxy S4. Everyone else will just receive the still.
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Animation is a go

The Animate Mode creates a GIF in which one element moves while the rest remain still. If you plan your shot well, the app does most of the work.
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Dual-shot mode

With the GS4's new dual-shot mode, you can combine photo and videos from the front-facing camera and rear camera into one frame. You also can choose from a set of wacky frames.
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Dual-shot mode in the wild

We took dual-shot mode for a ride out in a beautiful San Francisco park. Proof we were really here.
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Gesture in the air

Turn on air gestures and you can wave your hand in front of the screen to advance playing music, swap browser tabs, and answer an incoming call.
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Better health, there's an app for that

Samsung's Galaxy S4 jumps into the personal health tracking game with the S Health app. Also linking to the S Health app and Galaxy S4 via Bluetooth is a pedometer-style fitness band device planned in the future.
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Touch with nothing but air

Using AirView, users can hover their fingers over items such as photos and video to preview them without touching the device's screen.
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Watch On

Want to watch TV without messing with remotes? The Watch On app uses an IR blaster to turn your phone into a remote for your TV, DVR, and set-top box.
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TV controls

A closer look at the remote.
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Guide your way

Watch On gives you access to live TV listings in a guide format, and an interface to program and record stations.
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Video on demand

In addition to containing remotes, the Watch On app also has a video rental component.
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Share your tunes

The Group Play app transmits documents, music files, photos, and other content to other Galaxy S4 handsets without having to use Wi-Fi or a cellular connection.
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Group Play share

Once you connect to an ad-hoc network, you can turn Galaxy phones into a silent disco and play games as a group.
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Easy access to apps

The Galaxy S4 includes the multitasking feature first seen on the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet and the Galaxy Note 2 smartphone.
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Starting up the Smart screen

Open the Samsung Galaxy S4's Smart screen function to activate controlling the device with your eye movements.
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Smart scroll

Turn on this feature and you can tilt the phone screen to scroll up and down when the phone can see it's got your attention.
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Scroll with a glance

Tips like this one help you explore the phone's new features.
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Lock screen widget

Android 4.2 enables lock screen widgets, which Samsung takes advantage of with a camera widget or favorite apps. You'll also have the usual lock screen shortcuts to open if the widget method requires too many swipes.
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Toggle like a pro

The notifications shade on the Galaxy S4 adds a heap of new one-touch settings options that you can even rearrange.
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Translate on the go

For globetrotters, Samsung's S Translator tool delivers instant translation for both voice and text. The app is embedded into e-mail, messaging, and ChatOn, or it can stand as its own tool.
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Travel with confidence

Ten language options are a start for Samsung's take on an app that's highly similar to Google's own Translate tool.
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Cool camera extras

Deep in the settings menu, you can program a volume key to trigger the shutter button. You can also program video to speed up a recording or drag it out in slow motion, both to potentially hilarious effect.
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Easy does it

If you need a breather from the Galaxy S4's dizzying array of features, you can set up the phone in Easy Mode, which enlarges icons and font size and generally keeps things simple.
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An alternative Android

Easy Mode also replaces the home screens with one screen of apps and one for your contacts. Don't worry, switching back to the Galaxy S4's chock-a-block feature universe is still as simple as 1, 2, 3.

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