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Samsung talks foldable phones, Bixby upgrades: Here's everything announced

We get a quick, quick glimpse at the foldable phone.

Samsung mobile CEO DJ Koh laying out the company's vision for the future. 
Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung offered a first look at its concept foldable phone. But if you blinked or looked away, you might have missed it. 

The foldable phone, easily the biggest reason people tuned into the company's annual developer conference, showed up courtesy of Samsung executive Justin Denision, who pulled the device out of his jacket pocket and unfolded it. The stage lights were dimmed and Denison only showed it off for a little while after a flashy introductory video. 

Samsung kicked off the day with a lengthy discussion of Bixby, and some of the new capabilities coming to the digital assistant. The event is intended to drum up software support for the company's vast portfolio of products, from smartphones to smart refrigerators. 

Foldable phones are seen as one of the next big innovations in smartphones, and area that has gotten stale as upgrades each year get more incremental. Samsung, meanwhile, is also in a race with some of the top tech companies in the world to get people to embrace its digital assistant. Amazon and Google have successfully gotten their assistants into the home through affordable smart speakers, which play critical roles in our increasingly smarter homes. 

DJ Koh, CEO of Samsung's mobile division, touted this era as "a time of connected living," as he talked about his vision of new technologies like 5G enabling trends like smart cities, smart homes and autonomous driving.  

Here's everything Samsung showed off at its event.  

  • Bixby opens up: Samsung has struggled to get people interested in its digital assistant at a time when people are already comfortable with Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa. Eui-Suk Chung, head of software and artificial intelligence, said the company would open Bixby up to third party developers, and said the company plans to get the voice assistant in more devices. "Bixby is our singular commitment to AI," Chung said. 
  • Bixby goes global: In the coming months, Bixby will get support for five more languages. The company will also launch a marketplace for the assistant. 
  • Bixby Developer Studio: Samsung unveiled a tool set that allows developers to more easily take advantage of the assistant across multiple devices -- handy considering how many products Samsung make. That includes making it easier to develop "capsules," or skills that can be found in the marketplace. 
  • Bixby heads to smart TV: Samsung said that it would be releasing tools to help developers create apps that let you control the TV with your voice. 
  • SmartThings push: Jaeyeon Jung, VP of engineering, talked about its push to connect more devices under its SmartThings division. She talked about the company's SmartThings button, which has been around for a while, and its ability to trigger programmable actions like lights and temperature control.  
  • Galaxy Home update: Samsung first showed off its smart speaker over the summer at its Galaxy Note 9 launch, but talked more about the device at the conference. Still up in the air is when the speaker will actually launch. 
  • One UI: The company created what it describes as a simplified user interface for its phones. One UI promises to declutter Samsung's apps -- like its phone and clock app -- while placing more controls closer to the bottom of the screen to make them easier to access. An open beta program will kick off this month.
  • Infinity Flex Display: Samsung billed this display as "the future of display technology." On stage, Dennison showed off a device that works as a phone, then folds out to become a tablet. The company said it is ready to start mass production on the display in the coming months, with a launch next year. Samsung said its also working on rollable and stretchable displays.
  • Android support: At the same time, Google said Android would support flexible displays, and said it was working on a device for next year. 

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