This year's Samsung Developer Conference includes a peek at One UI 5, SmartThings improvements, and more.
During the keynote presentation for the Samsung Developer Conference on Wednesday, the company showed off a bevy of software updates coming to phones, TVs, appliances and other devices that are designed to make them better connected and more protected.
Samsung's big theme for the event is "Calm Technology," or smoothing out the process of linking smart devices to work together instantly. Samsung's SmartThings umbrella has been enlarged to include more integrations with devices for energy, pets and cooking as well as Samsung's Hub Everywhere.
SmartThings users can also loop in Philips Hue Sync to their SmartThings setup. Users get more smart device commands for Samsung's Bixby voice assistant, and developers can program more vocal controls into their apps using the new Bixby Home Studio.
Samsung is also integrating Google's Matter smart home standard in the coming weeks to onboard supporting devices into either SmartThings or Google Home, with what's meant to be an easy path to integrate devices from one app platform to the other.
Samsung also has a new security feature that doesn't just protect your network of smart devices but also relies on them. Knox Matrix is a new security system that links all your devices together in a private blockchain that has nothing to do with cryptomining, instead using the group verification system to make sure your Galaxy phone, router, smart TV and other appliances agree that they're all safe. If one device has been compromised, the others shut it out of the network automatically.
Samsung chose to use the private blockchain concept instead of verifying through the cloud because the company wanted a more local, distributed way of ensuring security. That means the devices should manage themselves, checking if they're on the latest software and even downloading updates locally on one device (like a phone or router) and then sending it to another that's on older software versions. It's an interesting way to think about smart home security, and users will be able to try it out starting with Samsung devices launching in 2023 -- and at some point, with products from partner companies.
Samsung phones will get One UI 5, which brings more customization options with Modes and Routines, a redesigned version of the old Bixby Routines that learn your usage patterns and tailor your phone accordingly.
There's also a new text-to-voice feature called Bixby Text Call that answers calls for you and reads out what you type, helpful if you're shy about speaking on calls. Currently Bixby Text Call is only supports Korean but Samsung said that an English version is planned for early 2023.
Other One UI 5 updates include the ability to copy and interact with text in a photo, video wallpaper for your lock screen, widget stacks for the home screen and refinements to notifications that make them more intuitive to interact with.
There were plenty of other announcements, including a new Privileged Health SDK for developers to build apps using the Galaxy Watch series' BioActive Sensor, as well as the separate Samsung Health Stack SDK being offered to health care institutions to help their research on body strains and neuroscience.