Samsung reveals Galaxy S upgrade details

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

Most of the Android buzz right now is revolving around Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades, but Samsung is taking a moment out of the ICS talk to give us a clearer picture of what's in store for its original Galaxy S phone.

Samsung Galaxy S Upgrade

The Galaxy S, as you may remember, was denied Ice Cream Sandwich -- Samsung said the phone didn't have sufficient resources to run the new OS along with its baked-in TouchWiz skin -- but the device will receive a 2.3-based firmware upgrade that'll give it some ICS-like features

Today, Samsung finally divulged exactly what that upgrade will include. In a posting on its official global blog, Samsung said the Galaxy S firmware upgrade will add five additional functions to the phone. The functions were designed to be "as similar to those found in ICS as possible," according to a Samsung engineer.

Up first is a version of the highly covered face unlock feature found in Google's Android 4.0 software. Samsung says it tweaked the feature to look for blinking in order to prevent people from using photographs to unlock the phone. (With the original Ice Cream Sandwich release, some users said they were able to hold up a photo of the owner's face and trick the phone into unlocking -- an effect I was unable to replicate in my own personal tests.)

In addition to face lock support, the Galaxy S upgrade will include an integrated photo editor, a font-size control tool, and an updated camera app that allows you to capture still snapshots while recording video.

Last but not least is an updated launcher for the original Galaxy S phone. This one's particularly interesting: Samsung describes the launcher as "S Go Launcher Pro," which sure makes it sound like a customized version of the popular Go Launcher utility for Android phones. Go Launcher, like other third-party launcher apps, replaces a phone's default launcher -- the software that controls things like the home screens and app drawer -- and lets users customize many facets of the experience. Third-party launcher apps like Go Launcher are widely available in the Google Play Store and have long been a favorite tool of Android power users.

With the Galaxy S update, Samsung seems to be relying on Go Launcher to give its old TouchWiz interface a fresh coat of paint. In its announcement, Samsung touts the fact that the launcher will let users "change the main screen and the icons, for a personalized smartphone."

The big question now, of course, is when this upgrade will actually roll out. Samsung has started making the software available to Galaxy S phones in Korea as of today. As for the rest of the world, all Sammy has said is that upgrades will be rolling out "from [the] end of March" and will be subject to individual carriers' requirements.

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Samsung received a disappointing C- on my recent Android 4.0 report card because of its inability to keep up with its upgrade promises. Galaxy S owners are certainly familiar with the company's notoriously pokey approach; waiting and frustration have long been hallmarks of owning a Samsung Android phone.

Here's hoping this Galaxy S upgrade is a much welcomed exception.    

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Google+Twitter, or Facebook. 

Related Posts:

• Samsung hopes sneaky PR will make you forget its Android 4.0 promise

• Seriously, Samsung? This is what you're calling Ice Cream Sandwich?

• Android 4.0 upgrade list: Is your device getting Ice Cream Sandwich?

Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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