It's quite a feat when a high-profile company releases a new product without the Internet rumor mill getting much more than a whiff of the product's specs. But that's exactly what Samsung pulled off with the launch of its Galaxy S III smartphone, successor to the smash-hit Galaxy S II.
By the time the company's new flagship device launched in London on May 3, a few details had previously leaked, but there were many surprises in store for the launch attendees.
How did Samsung manage to keep the S III under wraps?
Like an unmasked "Scooby Doo" villain explaining his nefarious doings to Shaggy and the gang, Samsung has detailed the security measures it took to protect its new iPhone challenger in a post on the Samsung Tomorrow blog.
According to the post, three different prototypes of the Galaxy S III were designed as final products, meaning many engineering tasks were tirelessly repeated. Prototypes were also moved conspicuously throughout the company in security boxes, even if the phone was simply relocating "across the hallway," reads Samsung's blog. This prevented "passers-by from catching a glimpse."
The post includes an anecdote from Principal Engineer Byung Joon Lee, who explained how he avoided spilling the beans to his young son. Said Lee, per the blog post:
My eldest son is in 6th grade [...] He knew that I had worked on the GALAXY S and S II. So I guess he assumed that I’d do S III also. Every time he saw an article on the internet about the GALAXY S III he’d ask "Dad! You’re making the S III, right?" But all I could say was "I don’t really know."
Not only were employees unable to mention details to family and friends, but they were also prohibited from taking pictures of the smartphone. This led to some difficulty for the designers and technicians when explaining details to other teams working on the product.
"We had to explain the GALAXY S III with all sorts of words. The Procurement Department had to set a price for the GALAXY S III and purchase the materials based on our verbal explanations. It was hard for everyone...," Lee is quoted in the blog post.
Samsung isn't the only company enforcing strict policies of corporate secrecy. Apple takes similar pains to maintain the mystery around its unreleased products. As we recently reported, Quora user Kim Scheinberg, wife of former Apple employee John Kullman, was told by upper management to "forget everything" she knew about one of her husband's top-secret assignments. She also wrote that her home had to be "reconfigured to meet Apple security standards."
Samsung's Galaxy S III is expected to be released in the U.S. sometime within the next several weeks. The phone's new features include a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display, voice dictation, face detection and much, much more.
Check out the gallery (below) for some of the Galaxy S III's standout features.
[Hat Tip: TechCrunch]
4.8-Inch Super AMOLED Display
The screen is huge, up from 4.3 inches on the Galaxy S II. A 4.8 inch screen makes it one of the largest displays on a flagship phone there is. Compare with HTC's One X (4.7 inches), the Motorola's Droid Razr Maxx (4.3 inches), and Apple's iPhone 4S (3.5 inches). The resolution is 1280x720.
Samsung introduces 'S Voice' on the Galaxy S III. To wake the phone up and activate the voice sensor, you simply say "Hi Galaxy!" and the phone wakes up; no need to push a button. Other voice commands, in addition to the stock ones in the Google Voice Actions catalogue: Using your voice, you can launch the camera and take a photo, turn the volume up and down, snooze the alarm (say "Snooze" as your alarm is going off -- dangerous!), and send texts and emails.
If you're writing a text to someone, and then you raise the phone to your ear, the GS3 launches the telephone app and automatically calls the person you were texting.
The Galaxy S III comes with an NFC chip that allows you to "bump" information like photos or video to other Galaxy S III owners by touching phones together, using a combination of the NFC technology and Wi-Fi Direct. With All-Share Cast, you can beam your screen to any DLNA-compatible television; All-Share Cast also allows you to share your screen onto anyone else's smartphone for document collaboration.
Pop Up Play
"Pop up play" will allow you to play a video anywhere on the screen while also performing other tasks, like checking your email or responding to texts. You can make the video window as large or small as you want. Here, you can see a YouTube video playing toward the bottom of the screen while a demonstrator prepares to search Google.
The Galaxy S III's 8 megapixel camera comes with burst photography: Holding down the shutter will take twenty photos in a row; you can then choose the best photo and the phone will automatically erase the other 19. A similar function exists on the HTC One line of phones. An alternate function: The Burst camera can take 8 photos in a row and then automatically choose the best one, if you're too indecisive to choose on your own.
Buddy Photo Share
The photography software comes with smart facial recognition: When you take a picture of a friend, it can recognize their face and will prompt you to send that photo to that person's phone or email address.
Essentially an eye recognition technology, the GS3 can sense when you are and are not looking it: When you are looking at your screen, the display will stay illuminated; when you stop looking at your phone, the display goes dark to save power. The feature can be toggled on and off, if you prefer to just let your screen time out.
Here's the first commercial for the Galaxy S III. At least, we think it's advertising the Galaxy S III. It might also be advertising a soap opera or Zach Braff film of some kind.