July 27, 2012

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy SIII - Software

As many of you know, I have had the Samsung Galaxy SIII since the launch date, one month ago. After one month of use, I have experience almost every facet of this amazing phone. It was a sure improvement over my old Apollo! This article will cover everything from using SVoice to taking screenshots. And just to clear the confusion, I have a North American S3 and not the International S3 but it doesn't make a difference when talking about software.

SIII Software

The S3 comes with some cool new technology. S Voice is Samsung's attempt to replicate Apple's Siri. I say attempt because this service is not good. It is slow, VERY SLOW. It also needs an almost completely silent environment (S Voice uses Google's voice recognition) and needs to have very clear instructions. If you are using it for the first time, it will almost be impossible for you to get anything accomplished. S Voice has a limited list of commands (like what is the weather today) and anything outside of that list, it will say it doesn't understand. One cool part about S Voice is if you want to talk about a topic that is inappropriate, it will ask you to change the subject!
S Voice

The default launcher for Samsung Androids has long been TouchWiz. Previous versions had very little functionality and it generally lagged. With the new TouchWiz in the S3 it is fast, responsive, and beautiful. Everything is laid out nicely and neatly. Animations are much richer and they are very smooth because of the S3.
TouchWiz App Drawer

Rather disappointingly, the S3 does not have the Swype keyboard. I have been waiting to use Swype on a larger screen since my Apollo days and now I guess Samsung has ditched the idea.

The camera app looks like the standard Samsung camera app but is much faster and does not lag, AT ALL. The absence of lag is something that you will notice with the S3. No matter if you are watching videos on Youtube (provided that you are using 4G) or playing games, the S3 does not lag! So back to the camera app. It has many cool new shooting modes like the burst shot and the cartoon mode! We'll talk more about the 2 camera's on the S3 in Part 2.

Cartoon mode in Camera
Another cool software feature in the S3 is the available motions. For example, you can stop the music you are playing by just flipping over the phone! Or if you are texting/looking at a contact, you just have to hold it up to your face and it will call them! The other motions are pretty extra and not particularly interesting. Here's a tip if you want to take screenshots. You swipe the side of your hand from one side to the other (like a flatbed scanner) and it will take a screenshot!

On the S3, because of its powerful processor with multitasking capability, you can watch a video windowed! As you can see, the video is played over whatever you are doing. It can be moved by dragging it and you can still use your phone without lag. One condition. The video must be local on the in phone memory or the SD card. That means you can't stream Youtube while you are checking your email!

Video of DWW concert over the [blank]'s Universe FB page
S Beam is Samsung's version of Android beam. Its not that it doesn't work but I really do not see the point. With 4G LTE in the North American version, it will be faster to email it to the person. This is mainly because my success rate while testing with n3rdf1ght3r was not good.

S Memo, S Planner, and S Suggest are all the same as the ones on the Galaxy Note (except you have a smaller screen). The default messaging application is slightly different than the previous Samsung Androids but it is just some slight redesign.
Slight change in messaging app

Finally there's Smart Stay. I saved the worst for last! This was a heavily advertised feature of the S3. "It knows when you're not looking!", they said. Well it might just be because i'm Asian but it does not work. It just suddenly shuts off my screen when i'm on wiki. Here's another tip, just before Smart Stay turns off your screen, there is going to be a symbol that looks like an eye that will appear beside your battery symbol so just touch your screen and it will not turn off.

Overall, I am happy about the improvements and new software additions that Samsung has made in their newest rendition of the ultimate smartphone. I would not call it making it more human but it sure is cool and allows you to use your phone in ways that you have never thought of before.

Just a few notes to end off part 1, if you are using S Notes and expect that an S Pen (from the Galaxy Note) would work, well i'm here to tell you it doesn't. You can buy the C Pen for about $35 CAD and that will work. If you get an S3, I would ditch the default browser and download Chrome for Android. It is much faster and has many more features. Another thing is that the LED indicator lights cannot be controlled by a 3rd-party app yet in the North American version (I have been told that it works on the international version).