One of the reasons many people go all-in with Apple products is how they seamlessly interconnect. That level of interoperability is hard to let go of once you’ve experienced it. For a long time, users have been crying for this kind of ecosystem in the Android space. Well, as far as I’m concerned, it already exists in Samsung’s product lineup, and it is far more open than Apple’s. So, what benefits do you get from immersing yourself in Samsung’s ecosystem, and is it worth it?
Seamless Connection allows your Galaxy Buds to switch between devices automatically when you need them to. In the example above, I had my Galaxy Buds Pro connected to my S22 Ultra playing Spotify. When I started watching a YouTube video on my Fold3, my S22 paused its music, and my earbuds switched to the Fold seamlessly so I could hear my video. The buds will switch back if I get a phone call or press play on the S22.
The switching is incredibly fast, taking less than two seconds, and it works on more than phones and tablets. Last week I left my phone in the house while I mowed the lawn and connected my Buds to my Watch4 for Spotify. About ten minutes in, I got a phone call, and answering on my watch switched the buds back to my phone so that I could talk to the caller. As soon as I ended the call, the watch resumed Spotify playback, and I could continue — all without navigating Bluetooth menus, let alone running back inside to grab my phone.
While many of the features we talk about today are limited to Samsung laptops, this works with any PC running Windows 10 or newer. All you need to do is download the Galaxy Buds app from the Windows Store, and you’re set.
Apple’s AirPods ecosystem is very similar. They automatically switch between devices based on what you’re doing, just like Galaxy Buds. Other wireless earbuds and headphones also have similar features, like Bluetooth Multipoint or Google’s Fast Pair. They’re both great, with Google’s system working on all modern Android phones and tablets, but not all earbuds support it. With Multipoint, there’s the added step of making sure your chosen buds support all of the features included in the standard.
Seamless Connection with phones and tablets is compatible with Galaxy Buds+, Buds Live, Buds Pro, and Buds 2, while the Windows app only works with Buds Live, Buds Pro, and Buds2.
Galaxy Book integration
If you have a Samsung tablet and a Galaxy Book laptop, you can use the tablet as a secondary display. Press Windows key+K to open the cast menu, and your tablet should show in the list. Once connected, it works the same as any other kind of connected screen, with the added benefit of S Pen compatibility. If you need to sign a document but have the conventional Galaxy Book with no S Pen, all you need to do is quickly connect to your tablet and use its stylus.
If you don’t have a Galaxy Book, but you want to integrate your phone with another Windows device, you can. Microsoft Phone Link (née Your Phone) and Link to Windows are available on all Android and Windows devices. The integration works best with Samsung phones, though, thanks to the company’s special relationship with Microsoft. You can view your notifications, reply to SMS and RCS messages, take phone calls, and transfer photos quickly between your PC and phone. You can even view the apps installed on your phone and launch them on the PC via screen mirroring.
Introduced toward the beginning of 2020 with the Galaxy S20, Quick Share does the same thing as Google’s Nearby Share, letting you quickly share images, contacts, and other files between phones and tablets. But Quick Share is limited to Galaxy devices, while Nearby Share works with most Android devices and Chromebooks. So why use Quick Share? Because it’s better.
With Google’s Nearby Share, you have to approve each file transfer on both devices for security reasons. But with Quick Share, you only need to do this if the receiving device is signed into a different Samsung account.
So, if I want to share a file from my Fold3 to my S22, I only need to touch the Fold, provided the S22 is unlocked. My S22 instantly pops up in the share sheet, and once I tap on it, the file will send. (By contrast, if I’m sending something to my wife’s phone, then she’ll need to approve it.)
If I were to use Google’s Nearby Share, I’d need to choose Nearby Share on my Fold3, then pick up the S22, wait for a notification to tell me a device nearby is sharing something, tap that notification, switch back to the Fold3 and pick the S22 from the list of devices, and then press accept on the S22. This is so convoluted compared to Quick Share, and it shows Google has a lot of room for improvement.
If you have a Samsung laptop, you’ll see it pop up on your phone as a target when using Quick Share, and best of all, you can use it to drag and drop files from the computer onto your phone or tablet.
Apple’s Airdrop has offered similar functionality since 2011, so it’s taken a long time for Android to catch up. At least it was worth the wait.
Syncing Samsung Notes and Internet
Samsung Notes and Internet are two of the company’s strongest apps, with Samsung Internet offering an experience comparable to Google Chrome and Notes consisting of an extensive set of features for taking notes, drawing, and editing PDFs.
All of your notes and browser history are synced between devices via your Samsung account, but what if you want to switch to another device right from where you left off? As seen in the screenshot above, swiping into the overview screen on one device while another has a Samsung Note or Samsung Internet tab open will cause a “continued on your phone” pop-up to show on your screen. Tapping on this pop-up will open the relevant note or webpage right where you left off on your other device.
Now, you can share web pages between devices using Google Chrome as well, but it’s nowhere near as reliable in my experience. Sometimes the page I’ve sent to my PC will show up in a matter of seconds, and sometimes I think it’s failed, and then it’ll randomly pop up over an hour later. If this is something you use a lot, maybe you should consider switching away from Chrome.
This works between Samsung phones, tablets, and even laptops, although the workflow is a bit different on the latter. If the laptop is closed, opening the lid and signing in while a webpage or note is open on your phone or tablet will cause a prompt to appear on the Galaxy Book. Sadly there’s no prompt if you’re already using the PC, i which case you’ll need to open the Samsung Notes app and find the right note yourself.
Apple has a similar feature called Continuity, and it’s significantly more advanced than what Samsung has managed to do so far. Instead of simply opening a Note already open on one device, you can have an Apple note open on your iPad and Mac simultaneously, using an Apple Pencil to add artwork and seeing it appear on the Mac in real time. I can only hope that Samsung will continue to develop its services in the future to match this capability.
Galaxy Watch health features
The Galaxy Watch4 is one of the best smartwatches around, and one of the reasons for that is the suite of sensors it uses to monitor your vitals. The Watch4 can measure your body composition, blood oxygen, blood pressure, stress levels, ECG, and heart rate, as well as the usual steps and activity tracking.
There aren’t many devices out there that can compete with that, but there’s a caveat. While the Watch4 can be used with Android phones from other manufacturers, you won’t be able to use all of the fitness features. ECG and blood pressure levels can only be measured if your watch is connected to a Samsung smartphone. You may dislike this, but it shows that Samsung is doing its best to match Apple’s approach to the ecosystem lock-in.
Samsung’s ecosystem works well, and I’d miss it if I were to switch to another brand. It’s still not on the level of Apple’s walled garden, though. The Cupertino tech giant has been working on features like these far longer than Samsung has, and it shows. Equivalent features work better, and there are even more Apple devices can do together that we don’t have an alternative for in the Android world.
Samsung is working on giving you a similar seamless connectivity across its devices, all while still staying open enough to work well with other Android devices and accessories. Basically, you get the best of both worlds — an ecosystem of devices that work together in synergy, without completely closing the door to tight integrations with products from other manufacturers.
If you’re like me and don’t want an iPhone, Samsung’s offerings do a great job of filling the gap, and things should only get better in the future.