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Samsung Galaxy Phones New ‘Circle to Search’ Tool Makes Fashion Easier to Find

Samsung’s new Galaxy S24 smartphones are getting new AI-powered shopping tricks, courtesy of Google, which dropped by the South Korean tech company’s Unpacked event in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday to show off the novel new feature.

The two tech giants collaborated on “Circle to Search,” which allows users of the newly announced Galaxy S24 Ultra, Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24 smartphones to circle, scribble, highlight or tap items on a screen to learn more about them, from corndogs to apparel and fashion accessories.

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According to an onstage demo by Cathy Edwards, vice president of search at Google, long-pressing the home button turns the feature on, and “from there you can select any — I like these sunglasses — to quickly uncover similar options and where to buy them.” She searched the bag in the same photo by scribbling on it and then tapped the boots to do the same, with results scouring the web for product listings. It also works by circling words in a text message or objects spotted in a video. Depending on the search, it can pull up information, stores or restaurants or other videos. When Edwards scribbled “thrift stores in Camden Market,” the tool yielded store names and addresses. This is Google search, but set off in a new way.

The experience was designed to be fast and intuitive, so people can circle, tap, scribble, etc. to search without getting kicked out of the app they were using.

In this screen capture, circling the sunglasses, bag or boots kicks off a Google search.
In this screen capture, circling the sunglasses, bag or boots kicks off a Google search.
The results shown include comparable products for sale, including sponsored listings.
The results shown include comparable products for sale, including sponsored listings.

Edwards doubled down on the fashion proposition in a separate Google announcement on Wednesday. “For example, maybe you need help identifying a few items a creator wore in their ‘Outfit of the Day’ video, but they didn’t tag the brands. Just long press the home button or navigation bar on your Android phone to activate Circle to Search,” she wrote.

“From there, you can select any item that you see with your preferred gesture — like circling their sunglasses — to quickly find similar, shoppable options from retailers across the web. You could scribble the bag and tap on the boots to look those up, too — all without leaving where you are. When you’re done, simply swipe away and you’re right back where you started.”

Circle to Search will launch on Jan. 31 on all three of the new Galaxy S24 smartphones, though not exclusively. According to Edwards, it will also be available on Google’s Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones.

The feature is one of many ways Google has been developing to change the search experience using artificial intelligence. Apart from text search, the range spans voice search, hum to search music and visual search using Google Lens, which engages the camera so the AI can “see” what the user sees and dig up data on the subject.

But AI isn’t solely Google’s turf. Samsung also introduced its own Galaxy AI as a way to infuse its collection of mobile devices with embed generative AI, a form popularized by ChatGPT for its capability to generate content and media with impressive results. Galaxy AI will power several new tricks ranging from advanced photo editing that can move around objects in photos to real-time language translation in phone calls. The S24 phones are first in line for these features, before they head to the Galaxy S23 series later.

From there, Galaxy AI will expand into its other devices. Surely that will include its Z Fold or Z Flip foldable phones, as well as wearables like the Galaxy Watch and perhaps another item.

At the end of the presentation, after appearances by Edwards and other guests, like high-flying influencer MrBeast, Samsung threw in a teaser for the Galaxy Ring, a previously undisclosed product representing a new category for the company.

Samsung teased a new health and wellness wearable called the Galaxy Ring, but offered no details on the device.
Samsung teased a new health and wellness wearable called the Galaxy Ring, but offered no details on the device.

In a short video clip, the device appeared to be exactly what it sounds like — a finger-bound wearable for health and wellness. But exactly what it does, who it’s for and when it will launch remain a mystery.

Otherwise, Samsung, as one of the world’s top smartphone brands, gave consumer AI one of its biggest inroads yet by putting Google’s Circle to Search, as well as live translation and AI-powered camera and photo editing tools, in its flagship phones.

The S24 Ultra, Samsung’s premium offering, is its first titanium phone. It also features Corning’s Gorilla Armor glass, a “Quad Tele System” with 5x optical zoom and 50 megapixel sensor with massive zoom levels. According to Samsung, “images also show crystal clear results at 100x with enhanced digital zoom.” Price starts at $1,300 and comes in gray, black, violet and yellow at most places, with exclusive options for green, blue and orange available only at Samsung.

The S24 and S24+ aren’t exactly unibody phones, but they’re close. These 6.2-inch and 6.7-inch models were designed to be sleeker with a seamless connection between the back and sides, and slimmer bezels. Prices start at $800 for the S24 and $1,000 for the S24+, with wide availability for colors black, gray, violet and yellow. Samsung.com will offer green, blue and orange exclusively.

Pre-orders open Wednesday and end on Jan. 30, with shopping availability beginning on Jan. 31, at Samsung online, Samsung Experience Stores and other retailers.

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