Ask anyone what Near-field communication (NFC) technology does and they’ll tell you it processes mobile payments. Now Samsung is going to give NFC a whole new meaning with TecTiles.
TecTiles are little “stickers” with a simple NFC tag inside. Each sticker lets the user “program” the sticker to have a specific response whenever any device with an NFC chip passes nearby. You designate a TecTile to perform a specific function like open a website, change a device setting, make a call, download a document, or whatever else you’ve told the sticker to do. When you tap the screen above the TecTile it will do what you programmed it to.
Unlike QR codes, NFC doesn’t require launching an app or using your phone’s camera — just put your phone on top of it and hit “OK.”
We hear the app is very easy to use, and within seconds we were able to program the TecTile with simple commands like phoning a specific number. As long as you don’t “lock” the TecTile, you can re-set it to other programs.
Samsung’s TecTile app runs on any Samsung phone with an NFC chip, including the Samsung Galaxy S 3 and Samsung Galaxy S 2, the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S, and the Galaxy S Blaze. The TecTile app will be available in Google Play. You can purchase stickers in packs of five for $14.99 from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Google’s Android director Andy Rubin knows and he took to Twitter to brag about it. Perhaps in an effort to take some of the attention away from Apple’s WWDC this week, Rubin decided to let his Twitter followers know that are more than 900,000 activations of Android per day.
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Rubin also used his Twitter message to deny rumors that he was leaving the company for the startup CloudCar. “No plans to leave Google,” he tweeted. “Oh, and just for meme completeness—there are over 900,000 android devices activated each day :-).”
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3 has been an interesting one to watch. All the pre-market speculation and hype have rivaled what always ushers in a new Apple. Samsung is the leader in global smartphone sales, and, with the arrival of their Galaxy S3, they’ve proven they can create a device that is a serious Apple contender.
Let’s take an initial look at the Galaxy S3, and see if it lives up to the buzz.
The Galaxy S3 comes in two colors: marble white and “Pebble Blue” (although the blue has a distinctly blue-gray look). Its rounded-edges and HyperGlaze polycarbonate backing enhances the smooth (but not slick) feeling of having it in your hand. The Galaxy S3 is not a cheap-feeling phone. It's got a really solid Gorilla Glass 2 front, a well-packaged interior and a robust battery cover.
Samsung increased the screen size from the Galaxy S 2 ’s 4.3 to 4.8in for the S3. Its dimensions - 70 x 8.9 x 136mm - make it very slim. It weighs in at 132g, less than the Apple iPhone 4S. Compared to the weight of the One X, it’s almost identical. Overall, the S3 is nice to hold. Samsung has created a large device that doesn’t feel like one.
The display is a superb Super AMOLED with a 720x1280 resolution - identical to the HTC One X. The contrast is excellent and the screen looks very bright. Whites are more luminous. Animations look clean and crisp. You hardly notice the use of PenTile array technology.
On the downside, the auto-brightness setting makes for awkward transitions. The screen will notably dim and then brighten again despite there being no change in external lighting. The screen is readable in bright light, although not great in direct sunlight.
It’s nice to see a raised rather than recessed physical home button, though its short-and-wide, making it a bit more difficult to consistently activate. It might take some getting used to.
Sitting on either side of the home button are capacitive touch buttons for the menu and back functions. These are very sensitive. You might find yourself frequently backing out of apps by accident.
You can tell that Samsung really focused on optimizing the Galaxy S3 for performance.
The North American version of the device features a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC and 2GB of RAM. These specs ensure that the S3 will be LTE-compatible. By contrast, the international S3 has a quad-core Exynos processor and 1GB of RAM. Storage wise, there are 16GB and 32GB models available. Word has it that there’s a 64GB on its way.
It remains to be seen how performance is affected by the extra gigabyte of RAM. Samsung says that the extra memory won’t affect battery life. In a perfect world, more storage will improve app performance, load times and overall multitasking, but not draw a lot of juice.
While the Adreno 225 GPU inside the Snapdragon S4 SoC trails that of the Mali-400 that powers the international Galaxy S3’s Mali-400, CPU-based performance is still incredible. Single-threaded performance is a vast improvement over the Cortex-A9 of the quad-core Exynos 4212. The sacrifice is gaming performance.
Turn on the screen and swipe through the seven home screens. You’ll find that the swiping action is smooth in a way that no other Android handset has been able to achieve. Just looking at overall performance, Galaxy S3 is comparable to HTC One X, with the exception of a perceptible improvement to the smoothness of Android operation on the Galaxy S3.
The camera system has an 8MP rear lens as well as a front-facing camera. From a subjective viewpoint, the rear lens took some nice pictures, but that’s just an initial impression. There’s a burst mode and a “best picture” function that will nominate what the software regards as the “best shot” from a group. Video can be taken at 1080p and the macro functions were very impressive.
The Android 4.0.4 with TouchWIZ Nature UX software makes the camera easy to operate with Android. For instance, it’s very cool when you can swipe your palm over the screen to take a screenshot.
It’s too bad there isn’t a dedicated camera shutter button. Still, the interface is nicely updated and shutter performance is significantly improved.
The Snapdragon S4 SoC is a very efficient chip and based on early tests of the international version, Samsung has done a great job designing in features that maximize battery life. The Galaxy S3’s hefty 2100mAh battery is impressive. The North American Galaxy S3 should stay charged longer than the European quad-core Exynos processor, but it hasn’t lived up to the claims that it has double the life of the One X battery. In fact, we found the two to be almost identical. Take note that the Galaxy S3 has a removable battery. The HTC One X does not.
This version of S Voice is supposed to allow for greater voice control than previous iterations, but in testing, its performance was patchy. For instance, waking up the phone using spoken commands didn’t always work.
The Smart Stay function allows you to continuously read a screen without worrying about the backlight dimming. This is possible because of the impressive front camera.
A motion control feature allows you to automatically dial your contacts by raising the phone to your ear. Neither the Smart Stay nor the motion control functions were enabled by default, so you’ll have to dig through the settings on your phone.
Polaris Office is a nice feature for business users. It allows you to open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your phone.
Well done, Samsung. Despite the company’s pre-market theme describing a design “inspired by nature”, they’ve created a functional and fun smartphone that may have attracted a long-term following.
Serious competition among smartphone makers is always good for us users. It gives us more choices. Samsung’s Galaxy S3, the HTC One X and even the HTC One S might mean you’ll have a tough time going with only one new smartphone.
It’s nice to know that regardless of carrier or network speed, all S3 models are identical on the outside. The difference is on the inside. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, you might just want to wait until the Galaxy S 3’s June 20th release to make your decision.
There’s no doubt that Ice Cream Sandwich users love the new Google OS, but that’s the opinion of only around 7% of total Android users. Gingerbread (Android 2.3) still dominates the market with a 65% share.
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Google had (and still has) great expectations for its Android 4.0 OS. Its rollout has been hampered by its availability on new devices, lack of upgrades to current devices and wireless carriers busy pointing fingers at who is responsible for the delays instead of getting their new devices tested and approved.
As more carriers debut their new devices equipped with Android 4.0, the ICS numbers steadily improve (they were up 2% in the last month alone).
Verizon Wireless announced it will begin taking preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S3 starting June 6th at 7 a.m. EST. Verizon is not being specific about their launch date for the device. As it states in the company press release, the device “will be available in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online in the coming weeks.”
Verizon will carry the Galaxy S3 in 16 GB and 32 GB versions for $199.99 and $249.99 respectively (with two-year customer agreement.) They’ll offer the Galaxy S3 in two colors: Marble White and Pebble Blue.
In addition, customers purchasing a Galaxy S3 will need to subscribe to a 4G LTE mobile broadband data package. These start at $30/monthly for 2GB of data.
Verizon’s version of the Galaxy S3 will feature a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, S Voice, AllShare Play, 4G LTE connectivity and a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor.
Samsung has put out some entertaining commercials showing lines of iPhone-obsessed hipsters who’ll buy anything Apple because they think it makes them look cool. While those commercials were definitely fun, Samsung is sending a big message: Samsung’s products are cool because they are extraordinary, not because they are “Samsung.”
In order to take a chunk out of Apple’s market share, Samsung knows it needs to redefine the way its products are viewed by consumers. The head of Samsung marketing Younghee Lee told AllThingsD in an interview awhile ago,” Especially in U.S., people are obsessed with Apple. It’s time to change people’s attention.” Lee said Samsung knows it has to figure out how to “engage with consumers from the bottom of their heart, and not just be a big and functional and rational and reasonable brand.” Samsung is looking to create an Apple-like fervor for its products.
It looks like Samsung is starting to accomplish its mission. Lines formed outside of a few London retailers earlier this week in anticipation of the release of Samsung’s Galaxy S III. The lines are nothing like the ones formed by Apple devotees, but they are lines nonetheless.
Se the latest Samsung video:
The global launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S 3 is off to an impressive start. It’s getting the attention of the mainstream media, the blogosphere, and social media. Samsung leads the global smartphone market for numbers, now we’ll see if they can create frenzy for everything Samsung.
News of the high demand among carriers for the Samsung smartphone surfaced last week. While a Vodafone spokesperson wouldn’t state numbers in their conversation with The Inquirer, the company did say preorders of Samsung’s latest Galaxy phone have been astounding, “With over a week to go until launch, it’s already the most pre-ordered Android device we’ve brought into our smartphone line-up to date and our limited time offer of 2GB of mobile data and 100 free music tracks is being snapped up.”
This news is confirmed by early NenaMark2 benchmarks, which show a Galaxy S3 (SCH-I535) with a 1.5GHz dual-core S4. It looks like the reason for the hardware exchange is the LTE capability, which the Exynos 4 Quad chipset doesn't have.
The benchmark also shows the Adreno 225 GPU in the Snapdragon S4 beats the Mali-400MP in the Exynos Quad by a couple of frames. This could be attributed to the pre-release software or inconsistency in the NenaMark2 benchmark. The Galaxy S3 screen is capped at 60FPS, so results close to that point may not be spot on.
During the Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung announced that the company was working on merging its Bada mobile operating system with the open-source Tizen operating system.
Samsung is currently the second-largest cellphone maker in the world, with devices powered by four major operating systems. By focusing on its own operating system, Samsung has more control over its devices and a greater opportunity to differentiate its products from its competitors. By merging the two operating systems, Samsung is hoping that existing Bada developers will transition to Tizen.
While still in development, the Tizen operating system is open-source and backed by Intel and the Linux Foundation. When the Bada integration is complete, Tizen will support programs written with Samsung’s Bada SDK, including both new and previously published apps.
Tizen, according to reports, features a program called Application Compatibility Layer (ACL), which enables the device to run applications built using different code. ACL is similar to RIM’s Android player for its BlackBerry PlayBook.
A new video has been released that demonstrates the Samsung/Intel-backed Tizen OS running Android apps.
Open Mobile, the company behind ACL, claims Android apps will be able to run on a Tizen-powered device with 100% compatibility, and stated that ACL features the same level of responsiveness users would expect on a device that runs on Android OS. The company would also like to make sure that the ACL will be integrated into smartphones and tablets by vendors and not end users.
As usual, there probably will be a few bugs to be worked out in the field, but all indicators are that Tizen is a well-designed and truly open source alternative to Google's Android.
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