Samsung's Galaxy S III launches. Android phones are exciting again!

I have to admit something. I don't normally get excited by new phone announcements these days. I've just gotten a little numb to the endless cascade of new Android-based phones.

But yesterday at the Mobile Unpacked event, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S III, and it's got some features that have me really geeking out.

First let's get the specs out of the way. The HSPA+ version has a 1.4GHz Exynos 4 Quad processor (expected to change to a Qualcomm for the LTE version) and 1 GB of RAM. There's a 4.8" Super AMOLED screen with a 1280x720 resolution. It has an 8 megapixel camera on the back and a 1.8 megapixel on the front.

So yeah, nice specs, fast phone, big screen blah blah blah. We see these every few weeks. So why am I excited?

Exciting feature #1: You know how your phone's display is always shutting off at the most inappropriate times? Then you tap it to keep it awake and hit an on-screen button by mistake and interrupt what you're doing? Frustrating, right? Well, the Galaxy S III uses that front facing camera to watch you watch it. It tracks your eyes and as long as you're looking at the screen, it won't turn off.

I think this is brilliant! I told my partner Angela about this feature. Her response? "That's scary. Is it called the Samsung SKYNET!?"

OK I can see where some people might find that a little creepy when you're talking about it, but when you're actually using it I think it'll be cool.

Now about the camera. If you take a picture of someone who is in your phone's contacts (and you have a photo of that person in your contacts) the phone can automatically forward a copy of that picture to the person you're photographing. In other words it runs a facial recognition comparison between the person you're taking a photo of, and the people in your contact list, and if it finds a match it can send that person a copy of the photo. With your approval of course (I hope).

Everyone's always talking about the iPhone's Siri, and now Samsung is talking about S Voice, a voice recognition system that is supposed to do more than just respond to commands. We'll see how that plays out when review units go out.

Engadget says that the phone will automatically dial for you, too. If you're looking at a contact and raise the phone to your ear, it'll dial that contact for you. Forget butt-dialing, now we'll have swing dialing!

Another interesting feature is Pop Up Play; this lets you play video through the native player in a pop up window floating over the rest of the UI. If tiny windows aren't your thing, a system called AllShare can mirror your display, for media or gaming, on a compatible TV without using a DLNA device (though those are supported as well).

That Engadget link contains a lot of great info; sadly I wasn't in London to get any hands-on time. The Galaxy S III is expected to hit North America this summer, and it's the first phone I've been really excited about since the Galaxy Nexus was announced.

So is all this automation cool, or is Angela's SKYNET accusation more accurate? Is the Galaxy S III the forerunner of our robot overlords? Sound off in the comments!

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