Samsung is releasing a new update for its Family Hub refrigerators that brings Samsung TV Plus — the tech giant’s free, ad-supported live TV service — to its fridges with a tablet built-in.
At its second annual Bespoke Home event on Tuesday, the company said the update (which was first announced last year) will arrive this July on Family Hub 2.0 models (2017 and later). The live TV option is only available in the U.S. and Korea.
Users of Samsung’s smart fridge may currently watch television on the fridge’s built-in touchscreen by reflecting material from a Samsung TV or a Samsung smartphone. But without one of those gadgets, your fridge would have to be dull.
We’ve tried watching TV on a Family Hub, and it’s not a pleasant experience — it can only use a small horizontal space in the center of the fridge’s vertical 21.5-inch screen. A better kitchen TV is a Google Nest Hub Max or an Amazon Echo Show 10, although they take up counter space. Samsung’s fridge also functions as a smart speaker, with Amazon’s Alexa and Samsung’s Bixby speech assistants co-existing in the gadget, which is an unusual combination.
You can watch Samsung TV Plus on a Samsung TV, and while there are over 200 channels of free, ad-supported live TV and on-demand entertainment, it’s a completely random collection of items. Yes, there’s CBS News and CNN Replay, as well as a slew of cuisine and kids’ channels, but there’s also a station dedicated to Baywatch and another to Antiques Roadshow.
An art mode is another feature that Samsung is bringing from its TVs to its smart fridge. Family Hub refrigerators will have access to an app called Art Gallery, which will transform the device’s screen into a work of art.
The art mode on the fridge, like The Frame, Samsung’s iconic TV that disguises itself as a work of art when not in use, camouflages that brilliant, attention-grabbing screen when not in use. The Art Gallery service will be free to use at first and will not require a membership.
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Samsung also improved the fridge’s internal camera technology, which can read food labels and enable for better food and drink identification and management. When you put anything in, the cameras scan it and then propose recipes on the touchscreen depending on what it sees. The upgrade improves camera coverage while also improving the food recognition algorithm and food catalog to detect additional things.
The Family Hub fridge doubles as a home control center for SmartThings, Samsung’s smart home platform. And while Samsung has said that it will enable Matter as a Controller on all its smart appliances, including the Family Hub fridge, there was no mention of that in this update. Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard Samsung helped develop with Apple, Google, Amazon, and others, is set for release this fall.
Samsung did say that its SmartThings Home Life package would be available in 97 countries later this month. The service is already available in the United States and Korea, but it is now expanding globally.
Home Life is a SmartThings app feature that gives centralized and integrated management over your Samsung appliances, assisting you in connecting them together via six SmartThings services: SmartThings Cooking, Energy, Clothing Care, Pet Care, Air Care, and Home Care.