Monday, March 25, 2013

Bring Galaxy S4-like experience to any Android smartphone

While you might not get the complete Galaxy Smart Apps experience with another Android device, you can get a few features running so you won't feel too left out
Bring Galaxy S4-like experience to any Android smartphone
The Samsung Galaxy S4 may have been a bit of a disappointment in terms of design, but it does push the envelope in terms of functionality. Along with the hardware Samsung has also paid a lot of emphasis to the software features with the S4 and went all out to demonstrate them at the glitzy launch event. While S4 has shown some nifty dedicated features, it has also carried forward a few smart features from the other S series devices like the Note IIGalaxy S III and even the Galaxy Grand. These features, while quite handy to have around, fortunately aren’t all that unique. There are plenty of apps available that will provide you with a similar, if not the same, experience. We’ve listed five such apps that can give you Samsung Smart Feature-styled experience on your existing Android smartphone. 

Do note that not all S class features found in Samsung’s latest devices are available. The ones we have listed here are but a few from a longer list. So while they might not be tightly integrated as the ones found on Samsung devices with the TouchWiz UI, they can function independently and give you a similar experience. 

Smart Stay 
Smart Stay made its debut with the Galaxy S3. This is one feature that all of us would love to have. It’s especially annoying when you’re reading an e-book or a long email and your screen times out. Smart Stay is designed to keep the screen from timing out when you are looking at it. The app will check periodically to see if you’re looking at the screen and turn the backlight off when you are not. It uses the front camera to detect your face. When it senses you are looking away, it will turn off the backlight according to your Screen Time Out settings. With the S4, Samsung has taken the Smart Stay a notch higher – Smart Pause will pause your video when you look away and resume where you left off and Smart Scroll will automatically scroll emails, web pages up or down when you tilt the phone. While there aren’t any apps that will imitate the Smart Pause and the Smart Scroll, there are several that imitate the Smart Stay feature. 
Get the Smart Stay feature with ISee You
Get the Smart Stay feature with ISee You

ISee You (Free, Pro – Rs 50)
It functions the same way as Smart Stay. With the free version, you cannot fine tune the time-out and the scan time interval. For that you will need the pro version that can be downloaded from the Play store for Rs 50. With the pro version, you can set the scan and the time-out interval. Once set, you will see the "eye" icon in the status bar. When you look away from the screen, it will turn off the screen only when it has reached the set time-out. For instance, if you have set the time-out at 15 seconds, then your screen will be on till the time you are looking at it and when you turn away it won’t go off immediately - it will time-out only after 15 seconds have elapsed.

Alternatives – Smart Stay Ex LiteSmartStay Ex 

Air View/Air Gesture 
Air View is a feature that came up on the Galaxy Note. With this you could hover the S Pen over the screen to preview a video, email, text message etc. The S4 allows you to perform the same action using your fingers. Another feature of the S4 that generated a lot of buzz at the launch event was Air Gesture. Hovering your hand over the S4 will now allow you to accept calls, change music, browse pictures and even navigate the web. Again, gesture functionality isn’t unique and there are apps out there that allow gesture-based functionality. They might not be as sophisticated but can provide quite a bit of functionality. 

Wave Control (Free, Paid – Rs 161.39)
While this isn’t as accurate and thorough as Air Gesture, Wave Control offers a limited selection of features and control. The app gives you the ability to control your music and video playback with predefined hand gestures. You can perform actions like stop, fast forward, rewind, control volume, screen on/off, access recent apps, and more. For instance, one wave across will skip forward to the next song, two waves to access the previous song etc. The free version of the app is ad-supported. The paid version of the app is ad-free and also allows you to customise waves – it will cost you Rs 161.39.

Alternatives – GMD GestureControl

Sound & Shot  
One of the camera features of the S4 is "Sound & Shot". What it basically does is records audio while you are clicking a picture. So instead of simply looking at a picture of a champagne bottle being uncorked, you can also hear the pop thanks to "Sound & Shout". This is definitely an exciting feature. While currently there are no apps that allow you to record sound and take picture simultaneously, there are a couple of apps that you can use to add audio in a post or record a clip before and after you take a photo.

Telling Photos App (Trial, Paid – Rs 71.69)
Telling Photos app allows you to add an audio clip to images that you have clicked. You can add an existing audio clip or record a message. If the audio clip is lengthy, then you can easily snip it within the app itself. The resultant video file can be shared on Facebook via the apps itself. With the trial version of the app, the video will be limited to 3 seconds. The pro version will cost you Rs 71.69 on the Play Store.
With Audio Photos you can add sound to your images
With Audio Photos, you can add sound to your images

Audio Photos (Free, Paid – Rs 164.21)
On the other hand, Audio Photos will record audio a few seconds before and after the photo is taken. When you play the file, you will hear the recorded audio along with the picture. You can share the video file via email and even on Facebook. It has both a free and paid version. With the paid version, you can customise how many seconds of audio you want to record before and after the image. It’s priced at Rs 164.21.

Alternatives – StoryMark and PhotoSpeak

S Translator
The bane of travelling to a country whose language you don’t speak is not being able to communicate with the locals to get what you need. While you could rely on phrasebooks, it’s not always as effective. To address these woes, the S4 features the S Translator. Select the language you seek the translation into and type out or speak what you need to translate. The S Translator will text back or read the translated text in the language specified. You can share this with the locals and S Translator will translate their reply back to you in your language. It’s a very handy tool for the frequent traveller. 
Looking for a translation app? Google Translate is a good option
Looking for a translation app? Google Translate is a good option

This has been a popular online tool for a very long time and now it has made its way to the mobile platform as well. Google provides you with translations in over 60 different languages. It supports text, voice and even augmented reality. The app provides support for 17 languages, when it comes to translation by speaking instead of typing, and 40 languages when it comes to reading out translated text. It also has a "Conversation Mode", which is a speech-to-speech translation feature with support for around 14 languages. Google Translate, like Google Goggles, also supports augmented reality – you can take a picture and then select the text you want to translate. You can also use the handwriting tool to write out the text you want to translate. Additionally, it provides you with the option to access the translation history offline. Goggles allows you to take photos of locations, monuments, arts, logs etc., which are scanned and information regarding the same from web links to Wikipedia details are provided. 

Alternatives – Word Lens Translator and Talk Translate  

Pop-up Play
A popular feature in the Galaxy S series is the Pop-Up Play video option, which is replicated in the S4 as well. What it means is that you can toggle the video screen as a pop-up box and work in the background. It’s a great feature as you don’t have to pause the video you are watching when you receive a text or email and send reply. You can perform both tasks simultaneously. 
Watch video and chat simultaneously
Watch video and chat simultaneously

MoboPlayer (Free)
This is one of the most popular video players available for the Android platform, as it supports the widest range of video formats. It also provides gesture-based functions to change the brightness, playback position and volume without ever bringing up the player controls. But the highlight, of course, is the ability to play the video as a pop-up file. To do so, while watching a video, simply click on the Home button; instead of exiting the application, the player will launch the video as a floating pop-up. You have the increase/decrease, play/pause and exit functions available. When the video is playing as a pop-up, you can go about working in the background without any problem. And when done, you can click on the option to go back to the regular full-screen player. An additional benefit of the player is that you can also play the last-accessed file exactly from the point you left off. The pop-up box can be positioned anywhere you wish on the display by dragging it across the screen. The best part about this app is that it’s free.

AlternativeStick it!

So while you might not get the complete Galaxy Smart Apps experience with another Android device, you can get a few features running so you won't feel too left out.

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