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Winners and Losers: Samsung unveils the S24 as Amazon trials Alexa Plus

OPINION: It’s been a busy start to the year in tech with CES marking a number a launches from some of our favourite tech names, followed by Samsung’s annual S Series announcement. 

Samsung won our attention this week, making it an obvious winner. Our loser, meanwhile, goes to Amazon as the company reportedly encountered issues during the testing of its Alexa Plus subscription service. 

Galaxy S24 colours

Winner: Samsung 

Our winner this week is Samsung after the company announced its latest range of S Series phones at its January Galaxy Unpacked event. 

The latest updates to the company’s flagship mobile line-up include the Galaxy S24, the Galaxy S24 Plus and the Galaxy S24 Ultra

It was clear what the focus of this launch was going to be from the first invitations as Samsung chose to showcase Galaxy AI, a series of on-device and cloud-based features powered by machine learning. 

New features include real-world and over-the-phone translation tools that work to interpret two-way conversations in real-time, Note Assist for creating templates and summaries in Samsung Notes and Transcript Assist for translating and transcribing audio recordings.

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Galaxy AI should also improve the S24’s photo-snapping and editing skills with an improved Nightography mode and Generative Edits to name just a couple of the tools arriving this year.

Of course, Samsung isn’t the only mobile company to place a focus on AI. Google has been equipping the Pixel with smart editing tools for years and we’re bound to see more in the way of AI features from mobile brands across the board moving into 2024. 

However, it’s interesting to see Samsung utilise the technology in many of its stock apps. We’ll have to wait and see whether this entices more people to make their next upgrade a Samsung. 

Amazon Echo Studio 2022 alexa light ring

Loser: Amazon 

This week’s loser is Amazon after the company reportedly began testing a subscription-based version of its Alexa voice assistant with additional AI smarts called Alexa Plus. 

The idea of a paid version of Alexa isn’t necessarily a bad thing (and Amazon isn’t the only company considering locking certain AI features behind a paywall). However, according to a report by Business Insider, the testing period isn’t exactly going to plan for the Seattle-based tech giant. 

According to the report, Alexa Plus is currently in the process of being tested with 15,000 users. However, testers have noted that the voice assistant often relays inaccurate information, including “unnecessarily long or inaccurate responses”. 

Considering Alexa Plus is due to launch this June, we can imagine this feedback has Amazon scrambling to fix the service. The company would already be taking a risk by asking users to pay for a more premium version of the well-loved voice assistant, but if Alexa Plus continues to relay inaccurate information after launch, we can’t imagine it will last long – especially now that Google Bard is waiting in the wings to win users over

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