The news of the day may be all Windows Phone, but that didn’t stop Samsung from having a launch event for the US Samsung Galaxy S 3. If you haven’t read our review, head on over there for a great look at what Samsung’s new flagship looks like in the US. Today’s event was designed primarily to discuss some new features that are premiering with the Galaxy S 3 and that may show up in some earlier devices. And at today’s event, the name of the game was sharing. 

Brian covered most of these, so we won't spend too long fleshing them out. As interesting as these features are, what really struck me about today's event was the tone this establishes for Samsung's US marketing campaign. But first, let's dig into the features a bit. 

AllShare branding has shown up in several different TouchWiz iterations, and up until now has leveraged the features of the DLNA spec to offer media sharing services. The latest iteration includes AllShare Play which is a DLNA screen sharing feature that mirrors AirPlay, and works with DLNA capable displays on the same network as the source. The new sharing features take advantage of WiFi Direct to enable specific sharing use cases. 

AllShare Group Cast was mentioned in the review and is a collaboration tool for meetings where you don’t necessarily need to look at each other. A host user enables Group Cast from their device and creates a PIN so other users can access the session. A document open on the host device can be shared on the other devices and users can annotate the shared document, or simply view the document at their leisure. This feature obviates the need for a large shared display or “smart screen” for group collaboration. For office types this could be a great tool for pick-up meetings and ad hoc collaboration amongst a group of users. The rep demonstrating the feature wasn’t aware of any user maximum, though sharing a document with hundreds of users could get a little ungainly. Users must be within about 200 feet of the host device; and, indeed, the demo was perfectly stable from about 100 feet away, even in the spectrum crowded confines of a NYC tech event space. 
ShareShot is born from the preponderance of the public who now reach first for their smartphone when taking pictures at a party or other event. Like Group Cast, a user opens up a ShareShot session which is viewable by other devices. Once activated on the devices, photos taken by the users are distributed via WiFi Direct with all of the users in the session. This really is perfect a wedding or similar event, where eschewing social network photo sharing could create a more intimate experience. 

ShareShot Demonstration - Samsung Galaxy S 3 US Launch Event
When you don’t want to share with more than just one person, there’s S Beam. Brian mentioned the effectiveness of S Beam to provide quick point to point transfer of files over WiFi Direct using NFC to simplify the set-up. This supplants the Android Beam which used NFC for the data transmission component, and is a much slower experience. 

 Beam, demonstrated here as a way to place orders at a bar.

PopUp Play was a feature that, though neat, fell between stools with regards to the event's “sharing” theme. The feature provides access to your video content while within other applications. So, if a text message comes in while watching a video, it can be replied to without interrupting playback. The video content becomes a floating panel above the app. Playback was smooth and the transition wasn’t terribly jarring. Like the Mini Apps in the tablet TouchWiz generation, the video overlay can be moved around the screen and since it is at the OS level is app agnostic. On a smaller device the feature might crowd the app upon which it’s overlaid and create usability issues, but with 4.8” to work with you'll be able to livetweet Call Me, Maybe without switching apps. 

This launch event was as much about plugging the device as plugging the marketing push that Samsung is preparing for the Galaxy S 3. Like the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S II ads that preceded it, this marketing campaign will be a little cheeky in its derision for Apple and its diehards. Fair or not, the campaign sports a personality that can be appreciated when taken with a grain or two of salt. What’s clear from the marketing, though, is that Samsung doesn’t see their competition as the rest of the Android market. Apple’s iPhone is their target, and with a commanding marketshare there’s good reason for them to act like the Android front-runner. 

And so, Samsung is focusing on what the iPhone doesn’t do, and that’s why we’re talking about the various sharing capabilities and not S Voice or pure hardware performance. Like the PC space before it, once hardware parity has been achieved (or as much as necessary for a mass consumer device) then features become the marketing linchpin. A strong component of this marketing will focus on NFC, including kiosks and posters that distribute exclusive content to Galaxy S 3 users. The kiosks serve to highlight not just the NFC features of the device, but the extensibility of the TecTile NFC tags that they’ll be selling alongside the phones at carrier stores. 
And then there’s the 3D Interactive Experience. One feature briefly mentioned in the review are the various gestures that can be used through the front facing camera to control the phone. The most highlighted one is the ability to take a screen capture by simply waving your hand across the device. User and gesture recognition through cameras has become a fairly common way to draw attention to a device, and though battery life might be a concern, I can envision some gesture based controls to be pretty handy; even more so than voice control. This is the same technology behind their SmartStay feature which keeps the screen on so long as the user’s eyes remain on the display. The 3D Interactive Experience takes things to a bigger scale. 

3D Experience with the Samsung Galaxy S 3 - Galaxy S 3 US Launch Event
Movie goers at 3D theaters throughout the country will be treated to an interactive game that supposes to leverage the motion tracking features of two Galaxy S 3 devices. Ostensibly, the game tracks the hand motions of audiences to control a paddle in a simple game reminiscent of the early Kinect demos. Reps at the event were coy about whether the sequence is actually just a plain old non-interactive demo, but insisted that this sort of motion control was perfectly within the reach of the Galaxy S 3. If the devices are so capable, then we’re left to wonder whether the feature will be made accessible to 3rd party devs for integration into games or other applications. 
Samsung is reporting that this will be their largest marketing campaign in the US ever, and for a device that has already broken new ground by being the first Android device launched on the big four major carriers unblemished by bespoke bodies, ridiculous names or feature restrictions. Even without a marketing blitz, the Galaxy S 3 has inspired a lot of excitement amongst tech savvy consumers. But it takes more than our readers to become the top selling smartphone.
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  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Sadly for us, with regards Samsung, this isn't strange. Remember that in the US we got two SoCs lurking within the GSII variants we saw. Brian just got his international GSIII so we should have comparisons for you when he has a chance to sit and breath for a minute.

    As far as why we have this issue. Outside of the US, the mobile market is driven by the manufacturers. Carriers compete with each other on price and services, but handset makers are the ones competing for the hearts and minds of the mobile market. In the US, hearts and minds are set aside and the name of the game is adhesion. By tying people to 2 year contracts, mobile users cede control of the mobile handset market entirely to the carriers. It's not easy for handset makers to advertise to the US market because it almost always has to be in conjunction with a carrier. So, we won't see an HTC One X commercial that doesn't feature AT&T branding, but we will see an awfully similar ad for the Evo 4G LTE.

    The end result of all of this is that the interests of the consumer come second to the interests of the carrier. The top carriers each have their 4G and "4G" networks to feature, so if a phone can't accentuate that network, it won't be sold on their network (except for one iDevice that need not be named). So when Samsung approached each of the carriers with their Galaxy S III, and informed them that support for LTE and DC-HSPA+ would require additional hardware and would diminish battery life and potentially require form factor changes, they were told to rethink that. With the now ubiquitous Snapdragon S4 ready to go with A9-quadcore matching performance in a small, LTE/DC-HSPA+ equipped package, the choice was a nonbrainer for our carriers.

    All that said, I still don't understand the quad-core phone idea, and probably won't ever. But then again, I'm the guy that's still using an OG Droid.
  • Belard - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Agreed, understand and not impressed.

    When I was thinking of going with a Nokia Windows phone... the way business is in the USA changed that. First, it took a LONG time to get to the USA... wow, like months before the WP8 is coming out.

    So first all, unless you want to spend $400~700 on a phone that a carrier would sell to you for $1~200, you are limited... most people will go for the savings.

    I happen to be on at&t... but all we get is the 900. (Not the 800 or 700 series) Also, choice of blue or black, that's it... not bad for $100 thou... I wanted the 800.

    Also, at least a few years ago... Sony-Erricison phones for the US were very limited compared to international. About 10 different models vs almost 100 i (international) models. Because the carrier only had crap SONY phones or something that wouldn't work for my needs, I dropped $250 for an Sony i-model... then 6 months later, at&t brings in for $100 less (ARGH). But the advantage for a NON-US phone is ZERO carrier garbage! More music and backgrounds and games included.

    Hitting menu on my Sony i-model, took you to the main screen with TEXTING selected. At&t change it to default to "at&t app store" - for which there are a handle full of stupid apps.

    I was in an at&t shop last week... not seeing a phone I really want. :(
  • robinthakur - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Yer, your carriers have so much control, it's a bit like the European market back in 2000. When I was in Asia recently I noticed that the Nokia lumia was everywhere from Nokia stores to big bold adverts which was good, although I guess there will be a backlash when Windows 8 comes out and they realise that they can't upgrade. I guess that is ther market Nokia and Windows are targeting more than NA and Europe where windows Phones are still flops. Apple was absolutely everywhere ranging from other businesses like restaurants ripping off the look of the Apple store (complete with Steve Jobs pictures) or the fact that you can buy jeans, shoes, shirts and alarm clocks and lots of other unconnected things bearing the Apple logo. It was prety hilarious...
  • robinthakur - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Having owned a Galaxy 3 (international version) for a week, you can take most of these killer features with a pinch of salt. The wave hand in front across screen I have never managed to get working. There are lots of egregiously pointless motion controls such as tap and hold an icon then pan the device to move an icon between home screens. Useless. I've never managed to get the All Share working, which is not exactly surprising as DNLA has always had more potential than actual usability. The NFC could be useful one day for payments and communications (if there is a standard protocol a la bluetooth) but by then, will I still have this phone? The smart stay eye detection is pointless as well as it takes too long to detect your eyes and by the time is does it has turned the screen off. S Assist is the poor cousin of Siri currently as it fails to understand any of my contact names and then gets stuck in a loop. Hmmm not too useful there. It also lacks the subtle endearing sarcasm of Apple's personal assistant. The phone itself feels cheap and nasty especially the battery cover which feels like you won it in a cracker rather than paying £400-500 for it and the screen whilst big and bright in doors is unreadable outside, and suffers from very fuzzy text and tinted colours compared to anything from Apple more modern than an iPhone 3GS. Lacking a proper multitasking button and having to tap and hold means that I hardly ever switch between programs using this method because it is slooooow.

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