The Galaxy S4 is a beast of a phone, and very likely to be the best-selling Android device in the world this year. It's also pretty bloated when it comes to software: on a brand new, unsullied phone, more than 6GB of internal storage is taken up by Samsung's TouchWiz version of Android. Most markets don't yet have access to a 32GB or 64GB model, and the base 16GB version has less than 10GB of user-accessible storage available. After a less than flattering feature on the BBC consumer protection show WatchDog, Samsung gave the following statement to CNET UK:
Does the fact that your smartphone or tablet's orientation control conform to its orientation rather than yours constantly enrage you? Well, you could go buy a late-model Samsung device for its Smart Rotate feature, which uses the front-facing camera to see which way your face is pointing and adjusts the screen accordingly. Or you could download GMD Smart Rotate, which does the exact same thing.
GMD replaces the accelerometer function with facial recognition, meaning that if you hold your phone in portrait mode even when you yourself are horizontal, it will know not to rotate the screen. I can think of exactly one amazingly good use-case scenario: when you're lying on your side and want to read or watch something, and don't have five precious seconds to toggle the auto-rotate function in stock Android.
Did you think that the Galaxy S III was the only one getting all of Samsung's Jelly Bean attention? Not so! As it turns out, the company is also working on Android 4.1 for older phones, including but not limited to the...*deep breath*...Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch. A build has leaked out over on XDA of 4.1.1 in all its TouchWiz-ified glory that's ready for the
flashing looking at, if you're feeling adventurous bored.
Of course, keep in mind that this is an early build of unreleased software, so make your backups and be prepared for some problems here and there.
Nothing quite stirs me up like people heaping praise on Samsung for "innovating" with TouchWiz’s software features. And every time I try to dismantle this notion, I get called a Luddite. I’m not forward-thinking. I don’t appreciate new technology that’s in its infancy. I’m not curious.
Which is interesting, considering how fascinated I am by it, and how generally up to date I like to keep with technology at large. I make no qualms of the fact that I am a cautious adopter of cutting-edge gadgets, though. I don’t look at a new phone or feature on one and suddenly become enamored with the possibilities it portends gazing 10 years into the future.
Sure, the Galaxy S III is the first major flagship device to get Jelly Bean outside the Nexus line. That's not fast enough for you, though, is it? Of course not! We can do better! Or, more accurately, XDA can do better. In fact, a TouchWiz Jelly Bean ROM has found its way to the development forum giant's threads already!
The build is still unofficial and obviously there are inherent risks to flashing it. Some users are reporting trouble with MMS, and as usual, root is not guaranteed to remain intact. Be sure to read through the thread before doing anything fancy with your phone.
Update 2: This exploit probably won't work on most Galaxy S III's as long as they have the most recent OTA update, as we demonstrate on video here.
A little over a year ago, before I was hired at AP, I wrote about the things I wanted my new Honeycomb tablet to be able to do in the next version of Android. Multitasking on tablets was (and still is) non-existent, and I wanted my tablet to be less of a big phone, and more of a small computer. I wanted split screen, and floating apps, and really, I wanted to just make use of this nice, big screen I had. One task at a time isn't good enough. The big difference between a tablet and a phone should be the ability to multitask.
Samsung is taking advantage of their newfound clout in the Android ecosystem: it's the first Android phone to escape the cellular carriers' meddling changes. Sammy managed to pulled off a unified launch across all the major US carriers - there will be no weird variants, and no names that sound like Street Fighter II sequels. It's just the "Galaxy S III." They are all the same, and you can get one on whatever carrier you want.
S Voice is Samsung's entry into the fledgling "virtual assistant" market currently occupied by Siri, Evi, Speaktoit Assistant, Vlingo, and a handful of others. The Galaxy S III rom leaked earlier today, and while most of the stuff in it is broken and completely useless without the version of Touchwiz it's meant to run on, S Voice is a perfect combination of being interesting AND working. So we're going to take a look at it on my Galaxy Nexus, which is currently running vanilla (well, AOKP) 4.0.4.
S Voice is only meant to run on the GSIII's Touchwiz build, so I expect lots of force closes.
Hey kids! Looking for an early taste of the new Touchwiz? Well you're in luck! A leaked Galaxy S III ROM is out in all it's bandwidth crushing glory! A whopping 800MB download awaits those eager to get their hands on Samsung's latest.
The Galaxy S III and its new version of Touchwiz will make about a million additions to Android. Somewhere in this download are things like S-Voice (a Siri-style virtual assistant), Pop-up Play (a floating video window), and Smart Stay (which uses the front facing camera to refresh the screen timeout), just to name a few. Developers (and eager bloggers) should start ripping into it immediately.