Samsung Galaxy S III focuses on photography sharing features, not cutting-edge optics

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Samsung’s Galaxy S III doesn’t boast 41-megapixel captures or top-of-the-line optics. Instead, its camera’s strengths are in its intelligent organization and social features, increasing the handset’s appeal as a point-and-shoot alternative for casual photographers. Samsung’s latest round of compacts andmirrorless dedicated snappers reaffirm suspicions that the company is taking a different approach to photography, focusing on connectivity and social enhancements, rather than updated sensor and low-light shooting technologies. While such decisions may prompt advanced shooters to bring their business to competitors, it highlights Samsung’s strengths on a broader level, as a connectivity enabler, rather than a camera maker.

The company is clearly committed to growing its ecosystem and uniting product divisions in an effort to increase penetration throughout different categories, developing sharing tools that simplify workflows and increase appeal. Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone packs standard specs, like 8-megapixel stills and 1080p video, but it offers a handful of software features that combine to make the device a compelling upgrade, especially from an imaging perspective. Join us past the break as we detail the Galaxy S III’s photography enhancements, from Best Photo to Face Zoom.

Shooting enhancements

We don’t blame you for not being impressed with the Galaxy’s camera itself, but that’s not the point — software enhancements improve the shooting experience without boosting specifications. Both cameras can shoot HD video (the 8-megapixel rear-facing module captures 1080p, while the 1.9-megapixel cam up front records at 720p), and a new feature enables still snaps as you capture clips, with an on-screen shutter button popping up in the top right corner. The S III also offers a burst shooting mode at 6 frames-per-second for up to 20 continuous shots and a new Best Photo mode, which snaps eight consecutive images (also at 6 fps) of the same scene, highlighting the most appealing frame, based on parameters that include sharpness, contrast and the subject’s expression. Best Photo allows you to save the pre-selected image, or any of the other frames before discarding.

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S Voice

Samsung’s Siri-like voice recognition tool lets you launch the photo app and even snap a frame without tapping the screen. Assuming your phone is connected to the web, a command like “I want to take a picture!” brings you to the app, while saying “Cheese!” (as you smile, of course) prompts the phone to capture an image. There’s no dedicated shutter release button, but there is S Voice.

S Beam

We’ve touched on S Beam a bit in our preview post, but the feature is most useful for sending photos and video, so it certainly has a place here. Using NFC, one Galaxy S III forms a connection with another when they touch, enabling instant transfers using WiFi Direct. You can send stills or movies directly to another handset with a few taps, at speeds of up to 300 Mbps.

Group Tag

This feature rewards those of you who keep your contacts list organized by group. If certain photos include an individual with a contact profile, that pic will automatically be assigned to a matching group in albums. For example, if John is listed under Family in contacts, he’ll also appear in an album called Family, making it easy to locate images without taking the time to assign them to specific albums.

Social Tag

We saw a hint of this with the Google Glasses demo, but Social Tag is about to hit the mainstream. The feature matches subjects in photos to the profile image on their contact page, then displays contact info as an on-screen overlay during photo playback. Google+ content will pop up in full, in addition to a Facebook profile link (no embedded info) and a shortcut to your subject’s contact page.

Buddy Photo Share

Expanding on those facial recognition and contact list enhancements is a feature called Buddy Photo Share, letting you boot a pic to your friend with a single tap. Like Social Tag, Buddy Photo Share uses the profile image from your bud’s contact page for identification, and also sends on the shot to the email address saved on your Galaxy S III.

Face Zoom

This facial recognition feature highlights individuals standing (or seated) together in a group, letting you simply double tap on a face to fill the frame. It doesn’t appear to be much different from the traditional double-tap zoom option, but we suppose this method enables a bit more precision.

Face Slideshow

We don’t see many practical uses for Face Slideshow, which creates a separate slideshow that zooms in on each individual face in a group photo. Still, you might find it entertaining, especially when it comes to making out individuals in a huge group shot. The feature essentially creates a slideshow from one image, cycling through portraits of each person in the frame. That’s about it.

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Want Your Android Smartphone to Shoot Like a One X? Install Fast Burst Camera

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The Galaxy S III and the HTC One X both offer a feature that wasn’t available to many Android smartphones before: the ability to snap rapid fire photos on the fly. The One X performance is amazing — you can hold down the camera button and fire away and then choose the best shot afterwards. That ability isn’t limited to those two phones anymore, however. Any Android user with Android 2.2 or newer can now download Fast Burn Camera from Google Play, an ad-supported free application that enables the same kind of rapid fire support offered by the two aforementioned smartphones. It’s amazing for capturing moving objects or for quickly taking a bunch of photos of a group of friends to make sure that you’ve grabbed everyone with a perfect smile. An ad-free version is also available for $3.99.

Samsung Galaxy S III owners to get free Olympics livestream from Eurosport

Samsung Galaxy S III owners to get free Olympics livestream from Eurosport

New owners of the Olympic’s official smartphone that missed out on Samsung’s initial ticket giveawaystill have a chance to catch plenty of the action live. Eurosport has announced that it’ll be offering a free month of access to its streaming app for Galaxy S III owners — as long as you’re a resident in one of the participating European countries. (Hint: it’s most of ’em, aside from Italy). Free access can be activated from July 14th and will last through August 12th. You can, however, grab the Eurosport app before the Olympics kick off by hitting the source below.

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Apple’s Back to School Promo is Back with $100 and 50$ App Store card?

In the midst of all the WWDC madness, there have been reports coming in from several sources that Apple Stores have begun receiving several boxes of $100 App Store/iTunes Store/iBookstore cards, and these cards are apparently for a reboot of Apple’s Back to School promotion. With these boxes being delivered this weekend, it seems likely that the promotion will kickoff next week. Apple is holding their WWDC tonight and plans onannouncing several new Macs. This week would be the perfect time to kickoff the Back to School promotion for 2012. Separately, we’ve received multiple anonymous tips claiming that the Back to School promotion will kickoff on Monday and offer a $100 card for Mac purchases, and for the first time, a $50 card for iPad purchases. Until we see more concrete evidence, we are ruling this as unconfirmed.

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