A closer look at the Samsung Galaxy S III's sharing features

From Group Cast to Buddy Photo Share, here's the lowdown on the Samsung Galaxy S III's innovative sharing features.

Group Cast is one of the Samsung Galaxy S III's new sharing services. Josh Miller/CNET

The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with a huge number of new features. Packed with services like S Voice and S Beam , the guys over at Samsung made sure its most recent flagship phone will keep users interested for a long time. (We should know, they sent us a 50-page print-out guide for us detailing everything).

One of its most interesting set of features is its four sharing services: AllShare Play, Group Cast, Share Shot, and Buddy Photo Share. Together, they allow you to distribute and view media content across different platforms. Here, I'll take a deeper dive into each.

AllShare Play

Like Apple's AirPlay, AllShare Play lets users share multimedia and play content among a number of devices. As long as all your devices are either DLNA-capable or AllShare enabled, and they're connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you can use your tablet to view photos taken on your camera without the need to tether anything. Movies on your phone can play out on your Smart TV, and you can even adjust your TV's volume from your handset.

On the Galaxy S III, AllShare has a nice, simple user interface that lets you easily see the devices you can connect to. Though you have to sign in and create an AllShare account initially (this is a real drag when you want to do something simple at first, like share photos among two phones), its a neat service to have. Especially since it's linked intrinsically to Group Cast.

Annotations among two Galaxy S III's using Group Cast. Lynn La/CNET

Group Cast

Designed for presentations, Group Cast lets users view and interact with PDF, PowerPoint, and image files through their phones. To start, just open the file you want to share in PolarisOffice (or if you want to share photos, tap and hold the pictures you want, then click the AllShare icon in the upper right corner).

After, choose "Send File" in the pull down menu on the right. Another dialogue box will open up with several sending options. When you choose Group Cast, the handset will prompt you to create a PIN that users will have to enter in order to join on the Group Cast.

Once you create one, your Group Cast will start. If you want to join a session, open AllShare Play, click on the menu key, and select "Join Group Cast." Once in, every member who can see the presentation can control the screen by flipping through file pages, or annotate the file with fading pen strokes.

In the bizarre case that everyone in your boardroom ends up owning a Samsung Galaxy S III (which will never happen unless you're at Samsung HQ), Group Cast is a neat service. However, the presentation can get pretty confusing when there are many active people involved. There should be an option that lets the original creator lock out everyone else's actions.

Share Shot

If your friends ever bug you after a night out to, "Send me those pictures, man, that was some party we had!" Share Shot saves you a step by letting the pictures you take upload onto other S III devices as you take them, and vice versa. All you need to do is connect to the same Wi-Fi Direct network and select "Share Shot" as a shooting mode in your camera.

When all your friends are connected, you can select (or accept, if you're not the one setting up the Share Shot session), the devices you want to connect with. Then voila -- as long as you stay on Share Shot mode (choosing another mode will end the session) and remain 100 yards from each other, you and your friends can simultaneously collect all the photos you guys take individually. Photos you take during Share Shot will be saved to a separate Share Shot album, and received pictures will be saved in an album called RECV.

Share Shot creates two separate albums for pictures you share (Share Shot) and pictures shared to you (RECV). Lynn La/CNET

Share Shot is a great idea, and I think it's fantastic that you can be at the same event, and instantaneously see the many different viewpoints your friends are experiencing from their pictures. However, setting a session up was confusing, and it wasn't intuitively clear how I could get back into a Share Shot session once I left.

Once Buddy Photo Share recognizes a face (even through an iPad!), it'll prompt the photo with a tag and contact info. Eric Franklin/CNET

Buddy Photo Share

Using facial recognition software, Buddy Photo Share is a shooting mode that will recognize a face and let you tag it with a person's contact info. To do so, take a picture of someone you'd like your phone to know. When the camera reads that the picture has a face, a yellow box around said face will appear. Long tap on the picture and choose "Add Name" in the dialog box that appears. You can either label the personal manually, or select through your contact list.

Once a contact is in the database, pictures taken of this person will be tagged automatically. You can then send photos to the person with just a few clicks on the screen.

During my experience with the service, Buddy Photo Share's recognition software worked most of the time, though not every time (it failed to recognize numerous pictures of fellow CNET editor Eric Franklin as the same person). Also, the tags are a bit obtrusive. Sometimes, you just want to view some nice photo of your friends without a bright square around their faces and a grey label imposed on their bodies. Given the tagging/Facebook online world we live in, however, tagging friends through your camera phone is nifty.

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