The Samsung Galaxy S III runs on Google Android 4.0.4 ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) together with TouchWIZ 4.0 UI.
The added software package from Samsung bumps Android to an even higher standard, with some of extra apps being S Voice, a competitor to Siri; and an eye-tracking function that turns off the screen when the user is not looking at it. Readers Hub has been removed in order to be replaced by the Google Play Store Books.
The quad-core processor has a very important role in making sure that every software component runs in a timely fashion, especially the ones requiring complex algorithms to be constantly and simultaneously running, such as the one for S Voice (voice recognition and interpretation) and eye-tracking (computer vision), as well as for providing processing power to high-quality 3D games, boosted by the Mali-400MP GPU and 1GB of RAM.
S Voice unfortunately isn’t as fast as one would expect, lagging in many questions that it is asked, and not performing in the ones it recognizes. With a few software updates, the app will surely be able to rival the iPhone’s Siri.
Continuing with the complex and impressive features, there is real-time playback of HD videos in a minimized player, while the user conducts another operation. HD movies themselves play without any lag on the HD touchscreen display that this phone carries.
Samsung offers a free 50GB account to Dropbox owners just for logging in with their account details. This goes against the potential of S Cloud, Samsung’s own cloud system, but it was a necessary marketing move.
Android 4.0 ICS comes with many improvements that try to join the smartphone and tablet experience into one. This has been achieved in a better way with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which the Galaxy S III will surely be offered an upgrade to.
One of the new features in Ice Cream Sandwich is face unlock, recognizing users in less than a second. The system emphasizes that it isn’t fully secure as a look-alike (twins or pictures) could be used to cheat it.
The default browser in this version of Android even comes with its own brightness setting, as sometimes web pages with white background may warrant less screen brightness. There is a maximum of 8 tabs, at which point the Galaxy S III becomes somewhat slow when changing tabs and even when exiting the browser. Even though the real Google Chrome is available in the Play Store, the system browser also has an incognito mode, a feature that even uses Chrome’s icon (the spy on the top-right corner in the image below).
Street View is installed on the current version of Google Maps and has been tweaked to be easily controlled. Offline navigation is also possible as the latest version of Google Maps supports this.
Google+, the company’s own social network’s app, has been redesigned for intuitive use in both landscape and portrait mode. As always, images can still be automatically uploaded as they are captured.
Samsung has once again included its own app store, Samsung Apps, offering exclusive content compatible with its device. One of such is S Baro, an app that displays the readings of the built-in barometer and the expected altitude, given the atmospheric pressure.
It’s unfortunate that the Readers Hub is no longer supported in order to give way to Google’s Play Store Books, and that Kies Air, the Samsung PC Suite that only needs a Wi-Fi connection to work, does not come pre-installed.
Besides the few disadvantages highlighted in this section of the review, the Galaxy S III’s software has been heavily tweaked in order to take the Android vs iOS fight to a whole new level.