Galaxy S8 Is a Smart Home Wiz (with a Big Catch)

The Galaxy S8 has the potential to be a universal remote for your smart home gadgets, but it's not as simple as it seems at first glance.

A new Samsung Connect app is front and center on this flagship, available right from the home screen or by swiping down from the top of the display from any app.

Samsung Connect works out of the box with other Samsung devices, but you'll need a hub to control third-party gear. Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's GuideSamsung Connect works out of the box with other Samsung devices, but you'll need a hub to control third-party gear. Credit: Sam Rutherford/Tom's GuideDuring a demo prior to the S8's launch, we got a preview of Samsung Connect's interface, which is fairly straightforward. From a single screen you can jump off to do things like start your robot vacuum, dim your Philips Hue lights or even peek inside your Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator.

Even better, you can create scenes, so you automatically activate certain settings when you leave the house, for example.

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Unfortunately, you need more than just the app to make all this magic happen. Samsung told us you'll also need the new Samsung Connect Home device to control smart home gadgets made by third parties, such as Philips Hue lights.

The Connect Home (price TBD) is a combination Wi-Fi router and SmartThings hub, which enables the Galaxy S8 to communicate with devices not made by Samsung.

By contrast, the iPhone can connect to and control many smart home devices using just Apple's Home app. The app leverages Apple's HomeKit technology, so anything that's HomeKit-enabled should work with Apple's handsets. You only need a separate Apple TV if you want to control smart home devices when you're away from home.

We're not sure how many people are going to be willing to spring for an extra piece of hardware to take full advantage of the Galaxy S8's smart home powers, but we'll reserve final judgement until we've had a chance to fully test it out.

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