The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a wonderful mini-computer which happens to be a phone. It’s so advanced that basic phone functions are subordinate to its dexterous computing power.
Its slim frame and svelte curves are enough to make grown men slobber like buffoons.
Combine that with the cornucopia of Google Play apps and the S4’s wicked fast Exynos Octa-core processor and you have a beautiful machine that plays music and movies, records in 1080p and — oh yeah, let’s you make phone calls.
I love this freggin’ phone.
Besides having an excellent battery life, doubling as a mobile hotspot, and having great app management abilities, it also gives you the ability to use your phone as a TV remote, take pictures with a command, block calls from specific numbers, reject text message spam and find your phone when you lose it.
Here’s a quick run through on how to make that happen:
1. Using your phone as a TV remote
Since the Galaxy S4 has an integrated infrared port you can use it as a TV remote.
You can start channel surfing from your phone with the built in Samsung WatchON App.
Find the WatchON app on the home screen and tap it open.
The first time you spin up WatchON, it’ll prompt you for your country, zip code, and content provider.
Next you’ll see a few personalization screens that will let you choose your top picks and favorite genres.
When the setup finishes you’ll see options to select your television brand, pick your channel source and then execute a test to make sure the App is communicating with your TV.
Below is a screensnap from the Google Play store that shows you the remote app.
2. Block Text Message Spam
Very few things annoy me more than getting unsolicited text messages on my phone. As if I didn’t already have enough email spam, a few ambitious marketers have found new ways to importune innocent users via text messaging.
Fortunately, there’s hope and a free SMS blocker does exists. You can get the eponymous app in the Google Play store for free.
The first time through, it’ll ask you to enter your country code then it presents a brief tutorial.
The app lets you reject SMS messages based on the sender’s number or message keywords. The nice thing is that all blocked messages are archived to a log which you can review or restore later.
3. Reject calls from specific numbers
I love this feature. Are you constantly besieged by annoying telemarketers? Or maybe you just broke up with your boyfriend and want him to stop pestering you; whatever the case, the Galaxy S4 has you covered.
Open Settings, go to My Device and scroll down to the green Call icon.
Choose Call Block at the top of the screen
Open the Call Block List
And enter the phone number you wish to block.
You can either manually enter the phone number using the keypad or touch the people icon to select a hapless person from your Contacts.
Just make sure after you setup the phone number block you tap the save button in the upper right corner.
It’s easy to forget that last step.
4. Take pictures with a command
Say you want to take a picture of your family but want to include yourself in the photo. Holding the phone at arms length won’t work because there’s too many people to fit the frame and you can’t coerce a stranger to hold your phone because no one is around, ah what a conundrum – what do you do?
Enable Voice Controls for the Camera – that way you can prop your phone up against a wall or fix it to a stand and take a picture by screen cheese or shoot.
Amazon has a cheapolla stand for the iPhone but some people say it worked with their Galaxy phones too. I haven’t used it though so can’t comment on how good it is but you can check it out.
To get started with pictures, the first thing we need to do is enable Voice Control.
Swipe down from the screen top, touch the gear in the upper right corner, choose the My Device tab and flick down to Voice Control.
Make sure Camera is enabled
And now you can take pictures by opening the Camera app and yelling Shoot!
Just make sure you don’t yell that in Newark, NJ or you might actually hear gun fire…
5. Find your lost phone
This is a must have app even for the most scrupulous phone users. At some point during the life of your phone – you’ll lose it. Perhaps it’ll slip out of your pocket when you get up to leave a cab or maybe you’ll end up leaving it on the table after one too many drinks. Stuff like this happens and the Galaxy S4 is too expensiveto be left alone.
Find my phone is a slick app that let’s you easily track your Galaxy S4. You basically install the app on all the phones you want to track and then you can locate those phones with the push of a button.
As long as the phones you’re trying to track are powered on and have location services enabled you can find the general vicinity of the phone within a hundred feet. You get three locations for free so choose wisely!
Once you grab it from the Google Play store it’ll ask you to login. If you don’t have an account just enter the your email address and it’ll turn that into your username.
You’ll sign in and fill out a form and then you’ll be on your way in a matter of minutes.
Find my Phone will ask you to enter the cell phone of the person’s phone you want to track. Then it’ll automatically send him or her a text confirmation. After the user acknowledges the message you’ll have magic abilities to find their phone at any time.
The Bottom Line
The Galaxy S4 has a bevy of features like letting you use the phone with ordinary gloves and typing on a floating keyboard. Today we learned about five cool tricks to help you get more out of this superstar phone.
Who knew you can actually use your phone as TV remote or block unwanted text messages? Also, blocking gratuitous phone calls is a breeze and taking hands free pictures has never been easier. Finally, Find My Phone is a highly rated (4.5 out of 5 stars) popular app (over 5 million downloads) that let’s you track your phone (or stalk any credulous friends who mindlessly lent you their phones)
Which Galaxy S4 features do you love the most? Have you had any issues with the TV remote or blocking text messages?
Let me know in the comments below.