Prior to today’s announcement, most of the talk around the Galaxy S3 was about its meaty quad-core Exynos processor and gorgeous Super AMOLED HD screen. However, the biggest selling point for the Galaxy S3 will probably not be its hardware, but its software. Samsung has clearly invested a lot of effort to distinguish its flagship from other Android handsets. Samsung repeatedly described the new Galaxy as a handset that sees, listens, and responds. Let’s have a look at exactly what that means.
It Sees: The Galaxy S3 will use its front camera to track your eye to automatically determine whether you are looking at the screen or not. The display will remain bright even if it has been inactive for a prolonged duration, if the Smart Stay feature determines that you are reading an eBook or surfing the web.
It Listens: Inspired by Apple’s Siri, Samsung has developed its own voice recognition app called S Voice. It will support eight languages including English (US and UK), German, Italian, Spanish, and Korean. It can be used to activate the phone, surf the web, launch apps, check weather, send email and SMS, manage appointments, and more. However, unlike Siri, S Voice doesn’t appear to be capable of sophisticated natural language processing. It will probably be capable of understanding a set of voice commands that you will have to memorize.
It Responds: The Galaxy S3 has as six sensors, and it will be leveraging them to understand your intentions. If you are reading an SMS from your mom, and you hold the phone next to your ear, then the Galaxy S3 will automatically understand that you wish to call your mom, and dial the number for you. Similarly, a smart alert system will alert you about missed calls by vibrating the handset the next time you pick it up.
Samsung has let the new Galaxy S3 out of the bag, and by the looks of it, it is going to be the phone of the summer. If you can’t wait to get your hands on the newest Samsung flagship, then the good news is that you probably won’t have to wait too long. The Galaxy S3 will be launching first in Europe, followed by Asia, North America, and other parts of the world.
The Galaxy S3 will launch in Europe on May 29th. The Verge believes that the 32GB model will be a Vodafone exclusive. Although Samsung didn’t provide a specific launch date for the United States, it will almost certainly receive the new Galaxy before the end of June. India and other important Asian markets are also expected to receive the Galaxy in end of May or early June. In all, the Galaxy S III will be launching in 145 countries with well over 200 partners. US and Japan will receive 4G versions, while the rest of the world will receive 3G ones. Samsung didn’t disclose how much consumers will have to shell out for the new Galaxy S III, but it definitely won’t come cheap.
Update: The unlocked Galaxy S3 will cost £499.95 in the UK.
Samsung officially unveiled the highly anticipated Galaxy S3 a short while back. Judging from what was shown in the launch event held at Earl’s Court, London, the next Galaxy more than lives up to the hype. As expected, it offers best in its class hardware. However, the S3 isn’t just a hardware revision. It is packed to the brim with intuitive and smart software enhancements that will enable Samsung to stand out in the crowd.
Samsung is dubbing the S3 as a smartphone designed for humans. The Galaxy S3 is apparently inspired by water, wind, leaves and pebbles. It sees, listens, responds, and allows you to share the greatest moments. With six sensors, and a bouquet of unique features like S Stay, S Voice, and S Beam, the Galaxy tries to understand you better than any other smartphone in the market.
The Galaxy S3 will be launching in most market towards the end of May. In order to introduce millions of users across the world to its latest blockbuster, the Korean giant has come up with an official ad. Explaining so many unique features in an ad would have always been a challenge. So Samsung isn’t even trying. The first commercial is a generic feel-good video that looks more like a mashup of travel and insurance ads more than a mobile handset campaign.
RIM’s BlackBerry World conference kicked off a short while ago with a keynote address by its CEO Thorsten Heins. As expected, he offered attendees the first glimpse of BlackBerry 10. It will not be an exaggeration to say that RIM’s survival depends on BlackBerry 10. The once assailable BlackBerry brand has almost been written off by most pundits, and consumers are flocking to Android and iOS powered devices. A completely revamped BlackBerry is Research in Motion’s last hope.
Unfortunately, the new BlackBerry platform is still far from being ready, and in the meanwhile, RIM can do little more than sit and watch helplessly as it continues to bleed. BlackBerry 10 devices are slated to show up only towards the end of this year. However, the good news is that RIM finally appears to be making the right moves.
The new BlackBerry OS will be designed to operate as a full touchscreen device; however, variants with physical QWERTY keyboards are also likely. Typing on Blackberry devices has always been a joy, and RIM has put in an extra amount of effort to ensure that the same remains true even for Blackberry 10 handsets without a physical keyboard. The new onscreen keyboard has all the usual bells and whistles like a prediction engine. But unlike in other phones, Blackberry will overlay the predictions right over the key you will have to type next.
The new platform, which is based on QNX, will feature a gesture driven interface that will enable quick and effortless switching between apps, notifications, and documents with the flick of a finger. Even though the OS is far from being ready, it’s still incredibly snappy. Everything that was demoed today exuded a fluidness that’s still absent from most Android devices. Low latency is one of the things that RIM put a lot of effort on, and it appears that the architectural decisions they made paid off.
RIM is also providing all the conference attendees a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha developer testing device. The device is a sample unit meant to help developers in getting a head start. Somewhat disappointingly, it doesn’t ship with BlackBerry 10 OS. It currently runs a modified version of the Playbook OS, with some of the hooks and calls that will be part of BB10. The test device sports a 4.2″ touchscreen display with 1024×768 pixel resolution, NFC, microSD, and quad-band HSPA.
Bad news for Nokia just keeps on coming. After spending fourteen consecutive years at the top, Nokia slipped behind Samsung in global mobile handset shipments in Q1 2012. Latest report from Strategy Analytics suggests that Samsung shipped 93.5 million handsets in the first quarter (36 percent more than a year earlier), even as Nokia slipped by 24 percent to 82.7 million units. Apple was a distant third with 35.1 million shipments; however, even that is an achievement as Apple only sells premium smartphones. The mobile phone market itself grew by 3 percent.
Nokia snatched the crown of the world’s top mobile manufacturer from Motorola in 1998. During the first half of the previous decade, Nokia went from strength to strength as it released supremely popular devices like the N95. However, ever since iPhone turned the smartphone world on its head, Nokia has been busy playing catch-up. Its experiments with Maemo and Meego didn’t achieve commercial success, and it’s now clinging onto Windows Phone in a battle for survival. Samsung on the other hand has had one record breaking quarter after another thanks to the strength of its Galaxy series. Nokia is being pushed to the brink even in the feature-phone segment, which has traditionally been its stronghold, by Chinese and Indian competitors like ZTE and Micromax.
The dominance of Samsung and Apple also points towards shifting dynamics in the mobile segment. Smartphones are no longer premium, niche devices. They have become the primary cash cows. Strategy Analysts believes that Samsung shipped almost 10 million more smartphones than Apple, but iSupply believes that Samsung is still trailing Apple in smartphone segments by 3 million. Samsung is currently preparing to release its next blockbuster – the Galaxy S3, on May 3.
Indian mobile manufacturer Lava has launched the world’s first Intel powered Android smartphone – XOLO X900. Lava XOLO X900, which was first spotted in this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), is powered by an Intel Atom (Medfield) processor. Lava claims that the 1.6 GHz Atom with Hyper Threading will offer an “an unbelievably responsive” experience.
As far as features are concerned, the XOLO has all the features a flagship deserves. Its 8 mega-pixel rear cam is capable of shooting 1080p videos and snapping up to ten images per second in burst mode, while the 1.3 MP front camera is good enough for video calling. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, HSPA+, NFC, and Bluetooth. The handset measures in at 123 x 63 x 10.99 mm, and features a 4.03″ TFT LCD touchscreen (capacitive) with Gorilla Glass. A 400 MHz GPU is also present to take care of heavy duty graphics processing. The 1460 mAh battery is expected to offer 8 hours of talk time, and last 5 hours of 3G browsing. Sixteen gigs of internal strorage, and 1 GB of RAM is also included.
The X900 ships with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread); however, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is expected to become available soon as an OTA (over the air) upgrade. Lava has partnered with Chroma to promote and distribute the phone across India. The retail price is Rs. 22,000 ($422 approx.). Intel has reportedly signed up several manufacturers including Motorola, ZTE, and Orange for Medfield powered smartphones; however, Lenovo K800 is the only other handset that has been announced so far. The K800 is expected to launch next month.
Facebook has just announced that it is will be acquiring the massively popular photo-sharing app Instagram for nearly $1 billion. Instagram has gone from strength to strength since its release a couple of years back, and has already amassed nearly 30 million users. Its Android app hit the 1 million downloads milestone within just 12 hours of its release.
Facebook has a disheartening record as far as acquisitions go. Almost all of its previous acquisitions have been talent acquisitions, and even popular products like Friendfeed stagnated under Zuckerberg’s watch. More recently, Facebook acquired Gowalla, only to shut it down a few weeks later.
Thankfully, Zuckerberg has opted to follow a different strategy with Instagram. The Instagram team will operate with autonomy within Facebook’s umbrella. While Instagram will get the opportunity to leverage Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure, Facebook might also integrate several of Instagram’s features into its own app. “We’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently”, affirmed Zuckerberg. He also vouched to retain “the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook”.
Facebook already had a massively popular photo-sharing feature. However, what it lacked was a simple app focused on just photography. If Facebook can manage to leverage Instagram’s assets without destroying its appeal, then the acquisition should prove to be immensely beneficial for both parties. The combined might of Facebook and Instagram will undoubtedly give a hard time to the Google Plus and Picasa combo.
The wait is finally over. Instagram, which was named by Apple as the “App of the Year” for 2011, is now available in the Android Market. In less than two years since its release, the free photo sharing app has managed to pull in over 30 million users who have already uploaded more than a billion photos.
Instagram is undoubtedly among the most anticipated apps for Android. More than 430 thousand users signed up for the beta testing program, which was announced a few days back. Instagram makes it dead simple to take great looking pictures and share them with your friends through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. While the quality of the picture depends greatly on the quality of the camera, smart filters ensure that the results are almost always eye catching.
Instagram for Android looks and feels like its iOS counterpart, which is of course a good thing as its simplicity and intuitiveness is what made it so popular in the first place. Instagram should work with all Android handsets running FroYo (Android 2.2) or above (with support for OpenGL ES 2). Unfortunately, tablets aren’t yet supported. The Android app is also a bit behind its iPhone counterpart with respect to functionality. Tilt shift/blur, share from feed, live preview and share to Flickr features are currently not available in the Android version, but all of them will find their way into the app in the near future.
[ Download Instagram from Google Play Store ]
Opera Mini 7 for Android is now available for download from the Google Play Store. The feature set is fairly similar to the Opera Mini 7 for J2ME, BlackBerry and Symbian S60 devices, which was previewed in last month’s MWC. Speed dial feature has been bolstered to support unlimited number of speed dials. Find-in-page as well as tab management features have been tweaked to make them more intuitive.
There are also a couple of significant enhancements that are exclusive to the Android version. Opera Mini now supports Android Beam, which uses NFC for data transfer. Rendering performance should also be significantly improved as the latest release supports OpenGLES.
Opera Mini is the slightly less capable sibling of Opera Mobile. It was originally meant for feature phones that lacked the processing power required for a full-fledged mobile browser. However, it has since managed to find an audience among the smartphone users too. Opera Mini doesn’t render webpages locally. Instead it routes all requests through its servers where the page is rendered and compressed. A highly compressed static representation of the page is then sent back to the mobile user. This technology is both Opera Mini’s biggest strength and weakness. The compression enables Opera Mini to achieve massive bandwidth savings (up to 90%), and also improve browsing speed on slower networks. However, it also means that Opera Mini is unable to render some of the more dynamic webpages properly.
You can download Opera Mini 7 for Android from the Android Play Store or Opera’s website.
Even though smartphones rule the roost in MWC, Opera Software hasn’t forgotten about its dumb phone users. Opera Mini Next 7, which was unveiled earlier today, introduces many of the conveniences of a smartphone to J2ME powered budget handsets.
Typically, Opera has dedicated its entire new tab page to speed dials, which are visual bookmarks that provide one click access to a user’s favorite websites. However, Opera Mini 7 features something called “Smart Page”. Speed dials are still there; however, they are now tucked away in a separate tab, and like its more abled sibling, Opera Mini now supports an unlimited number of speed dials. The Smart Page itself is an amalgamation of content from various places around the web, including social networks. Check out the video below to get an idea about how Smart Page works.
Opera’s CEO Lars Boilesen explained the rationale behind the new start page in the press release.
“When people think of using social networks on the go, they often imagine a smartphone with the latest apps installed. At Opera, we know that’s not the way a majority of mobile phone owners access their social networks. That’s why we’ve made ‘ordinary’ phones smarter, by making it easier to use the most popular social networks right in the first screen of Opera Mini for feature phones. Just because you’re on a more basic phone, doesn’t mean you can’t be a active social networker.”
Unfortunately, Smart Page is restricted to only J2ME, BlackBerry and Symbian S60 devices for now. Opera Mini for smartphones like iOS and Android also received an update. However, on smartphones the focus was more on improving rendering and performance than adding new features.
The preview release of Opera Mini 7 is available at opera.com/mobile/next/.