Amazon announces Alexa AI – 5 things you need to know about the voice assistant

During a recent live event, Amazon revealed Alexa will be getting a major upgrade as the company plans on implementing a new large language model (LLM) into the tech assistant.

The tech giant is seeking to improve Alexa’s capabilities by making it “more intuitive, intelligent, and useful”. The LLM will allow it to behave similarly to a generative AI in order to provide real-time information as well as understand nuances in speech. Amazon says its developers sought to make the user experience less robotic.

There is a lot to the Alexa update besides the LLM, as it will also be receiving a lot of features. Below is a list of the five things you absolutely need to know about Alexa’s future.

1. Natural conversations

In what may be the most impactful change, Amazon is making a number of improvements to Alexa’s voice in an effort to make it sound more fluid. It will lack the robotic intonation people are familiar with. 

You can listen to the huge difference in quality on the company’s Soundcloud page. The first sample showcases the voice Alexa has had for the past decade or so since it first launched. The second clip is what it’ll sound like next year when the update launches. You can hear the robot voice enunciate a lot better, with more apparent emotion behind.

2. Understanding context

Having an AI that understands context is important because it makes the process of issuing commands easier. Moving forward, Alexa will be able to better understand  nuances in speech. It will know what you’re talking about even if you don’t provide every minute detail. 

Users can issue vague commands – like saying “Alexa, I’m cold” to have the assistant turn up the heat in your house. Or you can tell the AI it’s too bright in the room and it will automatically dim the lights only in that specific room.

3. Improved smart home control

In the same vein of understanding context, “Alexa will be able to process multiple smart home requests.” You can create routines at specific times of the day plus you won’t need a smartphone to configure them. It can all be done on the fly. 

You can command the assistant to turn off the lights, lower the blinds in the house, and tell the kids to get ready for bed at 9 pm. It will perform those steps in that order, on the dot. Users also won’t need to repeat Alexa’s name over and over for every little command.

Amazon Alexa smart home control

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. New accessibility features 

Amazon will be introducing a variety of accessibility features for customers who have “hearing, speech, or mobility disabilities.” The one that caught our interest was Eye Gaze, allowing people to perform a series of pre-set actions just by look at their device. Actions include playing music or sending messages to contacts. Eye Gaze will, however, be limited to Fire Max 11 tablets in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan at launch.

There is also Call Translation, which, as the name suggests, will translate languages in audio and video calls in real-time. In addition to acting as an interpreter, this tool is said to help deaf people “communicate remotely more easily.” This feature will be available to Echo Show and Alexa app users across eight countries (the US, Mexico, and the UK just to mention a few) in 10 languages, including English, Spanish, and German.

5. Content creation

Since the new Alexa will operate on LLM technology, it will be capable of light content creation via skills. 

Through the Character.AI tool, users can engage in “human-like voice conversations with [over] than 25 unique Characters.” You can chat with specific archetypes, from a fitness coach to famous people like Albert Einstein. 

Music production will be possible, too, via Splash. Through voice commands, Splash can create a track according to your specifications. You can then customize the song further by adding a vocal track or by changing genres.

It’s unknown exactly when the Alexa upgrade will launch. Amazon says everything you see here and more will come out in 2024. We have reached out for clarification and will update this story if we learn anything new.


TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Meta Connect 2023: 4 things we expect to see at the Meta Quest 3 launch event

Meta has named the date for Meta Connect 2023 – September 27 – and we know that the highlight of the company's annual hardware and software showcase will be the full unveiling of the Meta Quest 3 headset.

Meta Connect is something of a mixed bag, in which we’ll not only find out about the new products that Meta is releasing in the near future, such as the Quest 3, but also its plans for stuff we might not get our hands on for the best part of a decade, if not longer.

Here are four announcements and updates that we expect to see at Meta Connect 2023 – as well as one announcement that we think Meta won’t be making.

More Meta Quest 3 details 

This isn’t much of a prediction, as Meta has confirmed that it'll be officially unveiling the Quest 3 during Meta Connect 2023. 

Meta Quest 3 floating next to its two controllers, they're all facing towards us, and are clad in white plastic

(Image credit: Meta )

We already know a fair amount about the Quest 3 – it’s a standalone VR headset that will succeed the Quest 2, it’s Meta’s “most powerful headset” yet, and it will start at $ 499 / £499 / AU$ 829. But we don’t have many specific details about its specs, release date, and what different Quest 3 models will offer – Meta’s “starts at” pricing suggests that more expensive upgraded versions of the Quest 3 will be available, and while we expect they’ll just be different storage options (as was the case with the Quest 2), we’ll have to see what Meta unveils.

We also don’t know if Meta will show off any new software to take advantage of the Quest 3’s specs. It may announce new VR games and apps that will take advantage of the Quest 3's improved performance over its predecessors, as well as mixed reality software that will be able to use the Quest 3’s improved color passthrough (the Quest Pro’s color-passthrough was okay but very grainy, and according to people in the know the Quest 3’s passthrough is significantly better).

Microsoft Office on Quest 

Speaking of Quest 3 software announcements, we hope that Meta and Microsoft will finally announce when native Office apps will be available on the Quest platform. During last year’s Meta Connect 2022 event, the companies announced that Office programs (like Word and Excel) were coming to the Quest headsets, but a year later they've yet to materialize – the only way to access them is via a virtual desktop app that’s synced with your real-world PC.

Microsoft 365 app logos including Teams, Word and Outlook surrounding the CoPilot hexagon

Maybe the AI Copilot will come to Quest as well (Image credit: Microsoft/GTS)

The companies also said that Xbox game streaming would be coming to VR, but since the announcement details have been scarce. Meta Connect 2023 would be the perfect time to finally give us a release date – and hopefully one that’s in 2023, as we’re tired of waiting.

Given that Apple is set to launch its Apple Vision Pro headset in early 2024, Meta only has a few months left to make its platform look as strong as possible before the new rival enters the space. This Apple headset will likely include VR versions of Apple’s catalog of productivity apps such as Pages and Keynote – so Meta would be smart to get Microsoft’s software onto its systems asap.

The metaverse and AI 

Horizon Worlds, Meta’s metaverse social media platform, usually gets a shout-out during Connect events, though the announcements are often a little lackluster – last year it was the news that avatars would be getting legs. And to make matters worse, we just hopped into Horizon Worlds, and as of August 14, 2023 our avatars are still legless…

Horizon Worlds doesn’t need legs; it needs reasons for people to use it. Meta has been steadily building up a catalog of VR experiences in the app and making various graphical improvements to it, but there’s still little reason to use Horizon Worlds over other VR software. Hopefully, at Connect 2023 Meta will finally give us a reason to try its metaverse out and not walk… sorry, bounce, away immediately.

smartphone screen with large shadow giving the feeling of floating on top of the background.

ChatGPT has stolen the metaverse’s thunder (Image credit: Diego Thomazini via Shutterstock)

One way Meta in which could try to reignite interest is to combine AI with the metaverse, and bring together two of tech’s biggest current subjects. Meta has been hard at work developing AI following the success of ChatGPT and other platforms, and it may want to harness those efforts to try and make its platform more appealing – perhaps by using AI to create bigger and better Horizon Worlds experiences, or to add NPC bots to make the service seem a bit more popular than it is.

With a smartphone version of Horizon Worlds also reportedly on the way for those who don't have a VR headset, some kind of AI integration could give more people a reason to try out the app.

AR hardware plans 

At Connect 2021 and 2022 Meta has mentioned augmented reality (AR) tech and shown off things it’s working on but it’s all been in-development tech and prototypes rather than something that we regular folks will ever get our hands on. We expect this might change at Meta Connect 2023.

Both the 2021 and 2022 events came with teases of hardware that would come in the following year; in 2021 this was Project Cambria (aka the Quest Pro) and in 2022 Meta teased a new consumer-friendly VR headset (the Quest 3). In 2023 we expect it’ll do the same but for AR hardware rather than VR.

model wearing facebook  Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses outdoors

Could Meta announce the Ray-Ban Stories 2 at Meta Connect? (Image credit: Facebook / Ray-Ban)

One big reason is that we don’t think Meta is ready to tease a new VR headset yet (more on that below), but even if it did we think an AR announcement makes more sense.

As we mentioned Meta has been publicly talking about its AR plans for some time – there are only so many times it kicks the ball down the road before we get tired of it teasing AR tech we can’t use. Additionally, with Apple preferring to use augmented reality when talking about its Vision Pro headset (rather than virtual reality), Meta may want to release its own AR tech to try and capture some of the renewed interest in the space that the Vision Pro has created.

If Meta does tease some kind of AR glasses, it’ll be interesting to see if they’re created in partnership with RayBan – like its Ray-Ban Stories glasses – or if they’re a completely Meta product. We’ll have to wait and see what happens on September 27.

No Meta Quest Pro 2 teaser 

If you’re hoping Meta will also tease a ‘Meta Quest Pro 2’ during the event, we wouldn’t recommend holding your breath. While this isn’t impossible, we feel Meta will keep its VR focus on the Quest 3 during the event (outside of showing us any prototypes for non-consumer products like it’s done in the past)

Our reasoning here is twofold. Firstly, teasing another VR headset just after the Quest 3 releases could put an instant dampener on any excitement people have for the new headset – it won’t get its time in the spotlight, which could hurt sales. 

Secondly, we don’t think Meta is ready to commit to launching a new VR headset in 2024 – which is when a Meta Quest Pro 2 teased at Meta Connect 2023 would arrive based on Meta’s usual tease-release cadence.

The Meta Quest Pro on its charging pad on a desk, in front of a window with the curtain closed

The Meta Quest Pro likely won’t get a sequel for a while (Image credit: Meta)

That’s because Meta reportedly recently canceled an in-development Quest headset prototype that leakers have said was the Quest Pro 2. While Meta has argued that the headset wasn’t the Quest Pro 2, and was instead an undesignated prototype, based on the leaks it sounds like this headset would have become the Pro 2 if development continued and it was given a proper name. No matter what the project was or wasn’t called Meta hasn’t argued it was canceled, and it will take time for Meta to develop a new prototype to replace it – suggesting the Quest Pro 2 is too far from ready to tease anything.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

6 things we’ve learned about the Apple Vision Pro from the visionOS beta

Apple has launched its first-ever beta for visionOS – the operating system the upcoming Apple Vision Pro mixed-reality headset will use – giving us a glimpse at what its new gadget should be capable of at launch.

As explained in the Apple Developer blog post making the announcement, the launch of the visionOS SDK will give developers the chance to start working on spatial computing apps for the Vision Pro. It will also help developers understand the Vision Pro's capabilities. Even better, the SDK provides a visionOS simulator so that developers can test out their 3D interface in a number of room layouts with various lighting conditions. And those tests have already revealed a number of details about what the Vision Pro will and won’t be able to do at launch.

This is only the first beta, and users are accessing the simulator via a PC rather than a headset – so expect some changes to be made to visionOS before it officially launches. With that said, here’s what we’ve learned so far about the Apple Vision Pro from the visionOS beta.

1. Visual Search is coming 

Visual Search is basically the Vision Pro’s version of Google Lens or the Visual Lookup feature found on the best iPhones and best iPads (via MacRumors).

A man wearing the Apple Vision Pro headset and pressing its shutter button to take a photo

You can use the Vision Pro to scan real-world objects and text (Image credit: Apple)

According to info found in the visionOS beta, Vision Pro headset wearers will be able to use the headset’s cameras to find information about an item they scan and to interact with real-world text. This includes copying and pasting the text into Vision Pro apps, translating it between 17 supported languages, and converting units (like grams to ounces, or meters to feet). This sounds pretty neat, but unless you’re wearing your Vision Pro headset all the time while traveling abroad or baking with a recipe we aren’t too sure how often you’ll rely on these features.

2. The OS is intuitive 

While not the most flashy feature, intuitive OS design and windows management in 3D space will be crucial for the Vision Pro. The idea of having loads of software windows floating around us seems neat – it'd be like we’re a real-world Tony Stark – but if it's a pain to position them how we want, it’ll be easier to stick with a traditional PC and monitor.

Thankfully, it looks like it’s super easy to move, resize, and hide app windows in Vision Pro, as shown off by @Lascorbe on Twitter.

See more

The video also shows that you aren’t moving the apps on a fixed cylinder around you; you can take full advantage of the 3D space around you by bringing some windows closer while moving others further away – and even stacking them in front of each other if you want. While dragging a window it’ll turn translucent so you can see what’s behind it as you decide where to position it.

3. Porting iOS to visionOS is easy 

According to developers (like @lydakisg on Twitter) that have started working with visionOS, it’s incredibly easy to port iOS apps over to the new system – so many of the best iPhone apps could be available on the Vision Pro at launch. 

See more

This is great news for people that were worried that the Vision Pro might not have an app library comparable to the Quest Store found on Meta’s VR headsets like the Meta Quest Pro.

The only downside is that the ported iOS apps appear in a floating window as they would on a Mac rather than being a fully-fledged immersive experience. So while your favorite appears can easily appear on the Vision Pro, they might not take advantage of its new tech – at least not without the developers spending more time working on a dedicated visionOS version.

4. Battery percentages return 

Battery percentages are a sore spot for many iPhone users. When the iPhone X was released over five years ago it changed the battery status symbol – the percentage disappeared and only a steadily emptying symbol of a battery remained. While this symbol does give a visual indication of how much charge your phone has left, it’s not always as clear as a number; as such, it's been a constant request from iPhone users for Apple to bring back battery charge percentages – which it did with iOS 16 when the iPhone 14 launched.

A woman wears the Vision pro in front of a menu showing a battery icon that has no number inside of it

The Vision Pro trailer shows a battery icon with no percentage (Image credit: Apple)

Unfortunately, a brief section of Apple’s Vision Pro intro video showed us that the Vision Pro might make the iPhone X’s mistake by using a battery status symbol without a number.  

See more

Thankfully for fans of Apple’s more accurate battery symbol, users like @aaronp613 on Twitter have found that battery percentages do show up on Vision Pro. It’s not a massive win, but an important one for a lot of people. 

5. Apps can use unique control schemes 

The visionOS beta not only gives developers tools to create their own Vision Pro apps and to port their existing iOS software to the system; they’re also given details, sample code, and videos showing off the kinds of projects they could create for the upcoming Apple hardware.

One such game is Happy Beam, a video of which has been shared on Twitter by @SwiftlyAlex.

See more

Happy Beam doesn’t look super interesting in and of itself – one Twitter commenter noted it looks like the sort of AR game you could play on the Nintendo 3DS – but it shows that the Vision Pro is able to recognize different hand gestures (like forming a heart) and translate them to different in-game controls. 

We’ll have to wait and see how developers use these capabilities in their creations, but we can already imagine a few possible implementations. For example, rather than using button prompts you could make a scissors gesture with your hand to cut images and text from one document, then clap your hands to paste it in a new spot.

It also appears that Apple is conscious that its headset should remain accessible. As shown in the Happy Beam demo, there are alternative controls that allow Vision Pro users to rely on simpler gestures or controllers to play the game – with it serving as a reminder to other developers to consider similar alternative control schemes in their software.

This gameplay video shared by @wilburwongdev on YouTube shows how the game changes when not using your hands.

6. Fitness apps are discouraged

One last tidbit that has been spotted not in the visionOS beta but in the developer guidelines for the operating system. In its guidelines, Apple says app makers should “avoid encouraging people to move too much” while immersed in the headset. The wording is a little vague, but it seems as if Apple is against the development of fitness apps for Vision Pro at this time.

One notable omission from the Vision Pro reveal trailer was that there were no fitness apps featured. Many people (some of our writers included) use VR headsets for working out, or even just getting a bit active. There’s Beat Saber and Pistol Whip for more gamified workouts, or FitXR and Litesport for more traditional fitness options. These developer notes make the omission seem more intentional, suggesting fitness and activities involving a lot of movement are not in Apple’s current plan for the Vision Pro. We’ll have to wait and see if this changes when the device launches.

Want to learn more about the Vision Pro? Check this round-up of 5 features Apple may have removed from the Vision Pro before it was even out.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Reddit update apes TikTok to show you things you’ve not subscribed to

Reddit has released an update to its mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices that adds a Discover tab, allowing you to find new content and subreddits that you've not come across before, similar to TikTok's 'For You' tab.

The platform is a place of many communities that can apply to many franchises, products, and brands. Its users, or Redditors as the company calls them, usually subscribe to these, which are called subreddits.

But across the site and the app, you would usually find new categories and topics by the algorithm showcasing trending content on the main page, or by searching for something manually.

However, Reddit is aware that there are better ways for its Redditors to discover new content thanks to this update, available for iOS and Android.

Analysis: About time, Reddit

It can be difficult to find new content on Reddit, compared to other social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram.

While the website had a design refresh 2018, it didn't go far enough when making it clear how you could navigate subreddits, or being accessible for new users.

With its app for iOS and Android, Reddit feels much better to navigate thanks to its different design compared to the website. But Apollo, a third-party app does the same function with an even better interface.

The new Discover feature is going to help close the gap for Reddit against Apollo here, but the next step should be how this can work for its website, which arguably still houses a design that's from the late nineties.

If it can attempt another redesign of its site that makes it easier to navigate to new users, alongside making existing content look more appealing, Reddit may appeal to an even bigger userbase than it has now.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

This new Microsoft Teams update will make things easier for guests

Microsoft is working on a new update for Microsoft Teams designed to improve the guest user experience in its increasingly popular online collaboration tool.

For those unfamiliar, guest access allows businesses to provides access to teams, documents in channels, resources, chats and applications to those outside of their organization while still maintaining control over their corporate data.

Guests may include partners, vendors, suppliers or consultants and anyone with a business account like Azure Active Directory or an account for an email service like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail can participate as a guest in Teams.

Now tough, Microsoft will give guests even more control over their experience in Teams by allowing them to decline invitations, initiate leaving an organization and manage the guest tenant list.

Be our guest

In a new post on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, the software giant has revealed that guests will now be able to do even more in Teams.

For instance, guest users will now be able to decline a pending guest invitation within the Teams app and when they click “Decline”, the Teams Tenant List will not show the tenant with the pending invitation in the Account Management tab. Guest users can now also initiate leaving an org and when they click on “Leave Org” they will be guided on how to leave a tenant from both Teams and the company's Azure Portal.

Finally, guest users can now manage the guest tenant list in Teams by choosing to hide or show guest tenants in the menu of Microsoft's video conferencing software.

Being able to collaborate with others from outside one's organization is one of the best features in Teams and through this new update, which is expected to roll out in December, guests will have more control over their experience when doing so.

We've also highlighted the best online collaboration tools and best video conferencing software

Via MSPoweruser

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Xbox Series X: 5 things you need to know

Let battle commence! With both Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5 next-gen consoles having bared their innards, we’re now much closer to knowing the full strengths and weaknesses of each console.

And Microsoft is off to a flying start. With fan-friendly features, a dramatic commitment to cross gen play and the most powerful internal hardware of any console we’ve ever seen, the Xbox Series X is already looking worthy of your gaming time.

So what’s the key stuff to know about the fourth generation of Xbox hardware? What will you be bragging about after pre-ordering the console in the coming months? Read on for the most exciting features of the Xbox Series X we’ve seen so far.

Full Backwards Compatibility

It was one of the best good-will moves Microsoft has made in years. After a rocky launch, the Xbox One got back on track with a renewed focus on games – and that included keeping your favorite, older classics available on the newer machine.

That’s a trend that’s going to continue with the Xbox Series X – and Microsoft won’t be scrimping on the range on offer. Not only will the entire Xbox One back catalogue work on the new Xbox Series X, but so will select games from all previous Xbox console generations. So whether you’re looking to play the OG Xbox’s Fusion Frenzy or go for another trek around Albion in the Xbox 360’s Fable II, you’ll be able to do it on your brand-spanking new console. And Microsoft has some extra treats in store, too…

Retrofitting HDR to Older Games

Yep, you read that correctly. Not only will you be able to play your favorite older games on the Xbox Series X, but they’ll also look better than ever before too. Going a step beyond the Xbox One X’s “enhanced” 4K upscaling tech, the Xbox Series X will be able to add HDR effects to older games that never previously had them.

Machine learning will be used to intelligently, retroactively apply HDR visual via the raw-power of the Xbox Series X – with no developer intervention necessarily needed. And that goes right the way back to first-gen Xbox games, too. So far, Microsoft has demoed Fusion Frenzy showing off the trick, as well as Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, which runs at 1080p on Xbox One, and now runs at full 2160p (4K) with HDR on Xbox Series X.

Pause and Resume Multiple Games in an Instant

For months now we’ve known that the Xbox Series X will make use of a custom SSD storage system to boost what developers are capable of building in their games. While we expected this to result in faster loading speeds and improved texture loading, Microsoft has also used it to implement a sweet new feature ‘Quick Resume’.

While we’re still figuring out the exact details of this is going to work, it’ll essentially let you leave multiple games in a stasis-like state, letting you jump instantaneously between a few different titles stored on your machines – and at the exact point you left them at. Think of how you can swipe between apps on your phone and come immediately back to where they were left, but for console games, and you’ll be on the right track. We believe that this will be possible immediately after booting a console from sleep, too.

Smart Delivery will Upgrade Older Games You Own

As the ‘Series’ part of the name suggests, Microsoft sees the new Xbox Series X machines as part of a continuum of the Xbox family heritage. As such, it’s no longer thinking of generational console exclusives, and has committed that first party Xbox games going forward will work on both the new machines (complete with the bells and whistles more powerful hardware affords) and the outgoing Xbox One hardware.

Does that mean you’ll have to buy a game twice? Absolutely not. Microsoft will be introducing a new ‘Smart Delivery’ system which will identify which console you’re playing a game on, and deploy the right version, with all the appropriate graphical bonuses, for your system. And it’ll do this without requiring an additional purchase – buy a game on the Xbox One that supports Smart Delivery, and you’ll get the Xbox Series X version for free. So far, Microsoft has committed to all its incoming first party games supporting the technology, while CD Projekt Red has said it’s Cyberpunk 2077 game will make use of Smart Delivery, too. So don’t scrimp on buying Cyberpunk in this generation for fear of missing out on the next.

Xbox Series X price pre order bundles deals

It’s Insanely Powerful

As if the above hadn’t already suggested so, the Xbox Series X is going to be a ridiculously powerful console.

The Xbox Series X is using a custom-designed processor from AMD (an 8-core, 16-thread processor with a maximum clock of 3.8 GHz, making use of Zen 2 and Navi architecture), a a 12TFLOP GPU (with 3,328 Stream Processors spread across 52 compute units) and 16GB of 14Gbps GDDR6(shared between the CPU and GPU). 

What is interesting is Microsoft seems at pains to point out that the machine will have twice the graphical grunt as the Xbox One X – you're looking at 12TFLOPs vs Xbox One X's 6TFLOPS – but this shouldn't be confused with compute power. Still, combined with the HDMI 2.1 standard, there's enough raw power here to get games running at frame rates as high as 120fps, or potential 8K resolutions for less-demanding content.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

9 things besides the Samsung Galaxy S20 we’re expecting from Unpacked 2020

The Samsung Galaxy S20 launch is in a matter of weeks, and we’re eager to see everything that might be unveiled at this year’s Unpacked event. The tech giant often takes the opportunity to debut more than just phones, and some much-anticipated gadgets could see the light of day.

Case in point: at the Samsung Galaxy S10 launch back in February 2019, the phonemaker introduced the AirPods-like Samsung Galaxy Buds. Now that Apple’s released its AirPods Pro, we expect Samsung to fire back by debuting the much-rumored Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.

We’re also curious if we’ll see the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G, a version of the company’s pro tablet that could connect to the next-gen networks – something that would put Samsung ahead of Apple in the tablet game.

Speaking of getting ahead, we’re also awaiting news on the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 as well as the rumored Samsung S Flip foldable. 

At the less likely end of the spectrum are much-wanted but little-rumored products like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2, which we haven’t heard much about in the years since its much-beloved predecessor hit the market. And, of course, we might see a Bixby Speaker. 

If there’s one thing we can virtually guarantee, it’s that the Samsung Galaxy S20 won’t debut alone. Here’s what we’re looking forward to at the event.

Samsung Galaxy S10 phones

Samsung Galaxy S20 / S20 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S20 along with the likely larger Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus will take center stage at Unpacked. We’re expecting a few innovations from the new flagships, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about these phones. First and foremost: will they all be 5G-capable?

Either of these phones will almost certainly pack the Snapdragon 865 chipset, which requires a 5G-capable modem like the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55, so we could reasonably assume the phones will be able to connect to the next-gen networks out of the box. It’s still possible that Samsung will release cheaper 4G-only versions alongside 5G ones, but it seems like it would be more trouble than it’s worth.

Most of what we’ve heard about the phones has involved incremental improvements: thinner bezels, centerline selfie camera, larger 6.2-inch (S20) and 6.7-inch (S20 Plus) displays – but a few, like a souped-up 64MP telephoto lens with 3x zoom and 120Hz max screen refresh rate, have us excited. However it seems like Samsung is saving the most substantial improvements for the biggest, baddest model… 

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

This is more like it. The largest, highest-specced version of the S20 line is rumored to be called the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. It might be called the S20 Ultra 5G, which makes it an even more obvious inheritor of the massive Samsung Galaxy S10 5G that launched in mid-2019; this time, we’re expecting the top-top-tier phone to arrive at the same time as its smaller siblings.

The Ultra is rumored to pack a max-sized 6.9-inch display and seriously souped-up cameras: a 108MP main shooter, a 48MP telephoto with 5x zoom, and a 40MP front-facing camera. (All S20 phones are rumored to pack the same 12MP ultrawide lens, while the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra both come with time of flight sensors.) Put simply, the S20 Ultra is poised to be the highest-tech phone out there, with a rumored 100x digital zoom packaged as ‘Space Zoom.’ 

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite / Note 10 Lite price and release date

Curiously absent in the S20 lineup is a follow-up to the S10e budget flagship. It’s entirely possible that Samsung is following Apple in making its prime-named phone (the standard Galaxy S20) the cheapest option. Or Samsung could be slotting its recently-announced Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite and Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite into the budget flagship role.

We’ve already seen and played with these phones at CES 2020, but we could finally learn when they’ll be sold and how much they’ll cost. While their specs are technically a year behind the new S20 line, that should work in their favor when it comes to affordability, and they’ll likely cost less than the S10e did at launch – making both these handsets strong contenders for the best mid rangers out there.

There’s another possibility, of course: both the S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite were specifically created to appeal to different markets than those that embrace Samsung’s priciest flagships. If that’s the case, we may not hear about the S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite at all.

Samsung Galaxy buds

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are rumored to be Samsung’s answer to Apple’s AirPods Pro – noise-canceling premium true wireless earbuds, but in this case, for Android phones. At least, that’s what we’re expecting – but rumors have both supported and refuted the possibility of noise-canceling. 

Even without packing the AirPods Pro’s standout feature, the Galaxy Buds Plus could outshine the Pro in terms of battery life – one rumor suggests they could last up to 12 hours. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 2

The original Samsung Galaxy Watch was a powerhouse with a neat rotating bezel that made navigating the smartwatch easier – and a more fun, tactile experience. While the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 introduced a digital haptic version of this feature, it’s not the same and we’re eager for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2.

We haven’t heard much at all about the Galaxy Watch 2, which itself suggests we probably won’t see this smartwatch at Unpacked 2020. But we can still dream.

Samsung Galaxy Fit e

New fitness tracker?

It’s entirely possible we get a successor to the Samsung Galaxy Fit, or perhaps even another budget fitness tracker like the Samsung Galaxy Fit e. We haven’t heard any news or rumors, so there’s no real hype building around a new device from Samsung. But if we don’t get another smartwatch this year, it might make sense for the company to whet appetites with a refreshed fitness tracker.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 was a welcome surprise: a higher-specced tablet to rival the iPad Pro, but with a few extras that stand out in contrast. The Tab S6 includes an S Pen in the price (which is lower than the iPad Pro), has an improved desktop-simulating Dex mode, and its keyboard accessory (sold separately) has a touchpad. It’s an intriguing contender that only gets more exciting with 5G.

A Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G launching at Unpacked 2020 would beat Apple to the punch, which hasn’t released a 5G-capable iPad yet. It would also be rather useful for on-the-go professionals that need to upload and download files rapidly, like media editors. 

Of course, 5G networks are still in early days – and a Tab S6 5G would need to be keyed to each provider’s 5G network. We’ll see how Samsung handles this if it does release a 5G tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Ah, the enigmatic Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. It’s unclear if this is simply a code name for the Galaxy Fold 2 or a forked device in its own right that, rumor has it, will be a clamshell-style foldable that hinges on its horizontal access, somewhat similar to the Motorola Razr

We’ve also heard that it could have two hinges – so that it can be folded into a Z-shape, hence the name – but that’s uncertain, and sounds finicky for a company to attempt just a year after its first foldable was famously delayed for screen durability issues.

Samsung Galaxy Fold 2

For all the vertical-fold diehards, we’ve also heard that the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 will follow its predecessor’s footsteps as a ‘hot dog style’ foldable – but bigger and better. Specifically, leaks have told us it could have bigger battery, faster charging speeds, better cameras, and other incremental improvements. 

While Unpacked 2020 seems soon after the original Fold’s delayed launch in late 2019, it could be a jumping off point to leave behind the baggage and start anew with a (much more tested) successor device.

samsung smart speaker

Samsung Bixby Speaker

There’s long been rumors of a Bixby-supporting smart speaker in the works at Samsung – or, as it might be known, the Samsung Galaxy Home. Whether this ends up surfacing is unclear, but the appeal is obvious: a smart speaker housing the unpopular but ubiquitous-on-Samsung-devices AI assistant Bixby to compete with all the Amazon Echo and Alexa-powered speakers in the world. We haven’t heard rumors of one coming – but anything’s possible at Unpacked 2020.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More