Samsung isn’t having an easy time of things this week, what with the Orwellian TV beat-up that caused consternation over what you say to your TV going to an at-first unnamed ‘third party’, to now silent pop-up ads for Pepsi popping up on screens ‘several times an hour’ in Plex and Foxtel Play, although Samsung Australia says the issue is now solved - details below.
iTWire colleague Ray Shaw in his article entitled ‘Be careful what you say - Samsung Smart TVs hear everything’ noted how this is really more of a beat-up, considering most other cloud-connected smartphones, tablets and other devices you can control or interact with by voice are sending that data for transcription to Nuance, or Google, or whoever is doing the transcription.
Samsung has explained its TVs just aren't ‘listening’ to everything you say and sending it back to George Orwell in the sky, that the feature can be switched off completely or only to allow a pre-determined set of commands, and how the third party is Nuance and not advertisers.
It makes me think, perhaps Google stands for ‘George Orwell’s observational gathering lexicon ears’, which is the best acronym I can think of at the moment and which admittedly is a bit lame, but there you go.
Anyway, the news has erupted across the Internet that some of Samsung’s Smart TVs in Australia are popping up silent Pepsi ads various times an hour while watching content on video apps Plex and Foxtel Play.
Reddit users have been justifiably complaining this has been happening, with the top and original Reddit submitted two days ago stating: “I watch most of my TV shows on a Samsung Smart TV and it has been fantastic for the past year. Recently it has been stopping half way through a show or a movie and has played a pepsi ad that is muted. It does not do this on any other platform (PC, PS4, tablet) has anyone else experienced this?”
Another Reddit user said: “It happens on the Plex app running on a Samsung TV - plex streams video, It also happens on the Foxtel app in Australia running on a Samsung TV - the foxtel app streams video too. I've been running the Foxtel app today for several hours, Samsung have rectified the issue since yesterday - I've not had Pepsi advertised at me all day.”
Samsung sent a statement to the BBC which said:
"We are aware of a situation that has caused some smart TV users in Australia to experience programme interruption in the form of an advertisement.
"This seems to be caused by an error, and we are currently conducting a full and thorough investigation into the cause as our top priority.
"This situation has so far been reported only in Australia. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience experienced by our customers."
So, we decided to contact Samsung Australia for clarification on what is happening, and Samsung sent iTWire the following statement confirming the problem existed and is now solved.
Here it is:
“Statement from Samsung Electronics Australia (SEAU)
“Samsung Electronics Australia is aware of an issue that has caused some Samsung Smart TV users to experience program interruption in the form of a Pepsi advertisement.
“This was a result of an error that occurred as part of a recent software update that was not intended for the Australian market.
“We can confirm that the issue has now been rectified and that there are currently no plans to introduce this type of advertising in Australia in the near future. Samsung Electronics Australia would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused to our customers.”