The Apple world may feel fairly insulated from the day-to-day minutiae of the Android world, but there is one moment each year where even the iPhone faithful need to sit up and pay attention: Galaxy launch day.
After the dismal recall and subsequent cancellation of the Galaxy Note 7 in late 2016, Samsung has delayed the launch of the Galaxy S8 to ensure that it has everything in order, from the availability of hardware to the messaging around safety. To that end, the Galaxy S8 is Samsung's most important release ever, and it's sure to give the iPhone 7 a run for its money.
There are two phones, the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and the 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+. Both of them sport super-tall 18.5:9 aspect ratios, which make them a bit unwieldy at first, but with their ultra-slim bezels, able to fit a lot of screen in a fairly compact body.
For years, the Galaxy S line mirrored the iPhone in relying on a physical home button to return home, flanked by capacitive keys on either side to fulfil the rest of Android's navigation needs. This year, Samsung has eschewed the physical for virtual to maximize screen real estate, but has taken a page from Apple's playbook in one key area: it has added a special haptic engine to make the virtual home button feel more like a physical one. The fingerprint sensor, though, has moved to an awkward position on the back of the phone next to the 12MP rear camera, which is sure to frustrate long-time Samsung (and Apple) users.
One interesting addition this year is Bixby, an on-device assistant that is less Siri and more Jarvis. The idea is not to ask it questions about the universe, but to make getting things done on the phone faster and easier.
Like Siri, you can ask it to take a photo or take a note, but Bixby is intended to mirror anything you can do with your finger, but with voice. Eventually, it's going to be the glue holding together all of Samsung's various products, from phones to tablets to refrigerators and washing machines, but for now it's limited to just a few apps on a couple of phones.
Finally, there's DeX, a dock that, when a Galaxy S8 is plugged into it, creates a desktop environment out of Android. Samsung has partnered with Microsoft and Adobe to optimize their Android apps for a multi-window experience, and it's clear Samsung wants to leverage DeX to compete with Apple, Google and Microsoft in the enterprise space.