Samsung I9000 Galaxy S preview: First Look
Text input, Android meets Swype
Text input is not usually a particularly exciting part of a preview but the Samsung I9000 Galaxy S is different. It features an on-screen QWERTY keyboard by Swype in both portrait and landscape.
The way Swype works is instead of tapping on keys you sweep a finger across the keyboard. To "type" quick, you need to put a finger on the Q key and sweep over to U, then I, then C and all the way to K. There's a visual trail that marks your finger movement across the keyboard.
It doesn't matter if the trace goes over other keys, in fact you can't help it. But Swype recognizes the word you intended to enter with surprising accuracy - it correctly guessed "xylophone" without breaking a sweat.
Swype is a novel way to type
The high precision means that even fast sweeps will be recognized correctly, so you can enter text very quickly and keep the error rate low at the same time. With shorter words, there might be several combinations possible - in that case Swype simply prompts you to pick which one you meant. It has a pretty big dictionary built-in, but you can teach it new words too (just type them out the regular way and it will store it for next time).
There's an excellent tutorial, which shows you step by step how to do everything with Swype - capitalizing, punctuation, writing "soon" rather than "son" and a few other tricks.
Swype is very unobtrusive - it presents the user with a regular-looking QWERTY keyboard, on which you can type by tapping the keys the old-fashioned way. Swype is cool though once you get the hang of it.
We think that Swype is a great improvement over the regular virtual keyboard and we'd like to see it in more handsets. Most importantly though, it's there if you like it - if not, you don't even have to turn it off or anything. Just type instead of sweep.
Gallery impresses with 3D, disappoints with downsized images
The Samsung I9000 Samsung S gallery is identical to the one found on the Nexus One. It automatically locates the images and videos, no matter where they are stored. The gallery packs cool 3D effects and transitions, which we find rather attractive.
Images and videos placed in different folders appear in different sub-galleries that automatically get the name of the folder, which is very convenient - just like a file manager.
The different albums appear as piles of photos which reorganize in neat grids once selected.
Alternatively, you photos can be organized by date with the help of the toggle in the top right corner which switches between the grid view and another view, which separates photos into different piles, according to when they were taken.
In grid view, there’s a date slider, which can also be used to find photos taken on a certain date.
When you dig down into several sub-folders, you can use the use the tabs on the top of the screen to jump back several levels to the folder you need (similar to how, say, Explorer on Windows 7 works).
The gallery supports finger scrolling or panning so you can skip images without having to return to the default view. Just swipe to the left or to the right when looking at a photo in fullscreen mode and the previous/next image will appear.
The pinch-zooming is also available here thanks to the Samsung I9000 Galaxy S multi-touch support but you can also use double tap or even the +/- buttons.
Strangely, you can't zoom images up to 100% of their resolution. Obviously the gallery displays only downsized versions of your shots and you need to transfer them to a computer if you're into pixel-peeping.
Video player eats DivX/XviD and 720p videos for breakfast
The Samsung I9000 Galaxy S is among the best performers in the Android family as far as video playback is concerned. In addition to packing a dedicated video player app (though playing videos through the gallery is still possible) it also has DivX and XviD video support, which is very rare in the Google OS family.
Performance with higher-res videos is great – it played 720p videos like a champ. Small wonder, considering it can record 720p videos. There’s no TV-Out but thanks to the DLNA support you can still stream videos and photos to your DLNA-enabled TV or media player (any PC with Wi-Fi and DLNA-capable software would do too).
The interface of the video player itself is as simple and as it could possibly be. You get a list of all videos available on the phone and the controls while playing a video boil down to play/pause and skip buttons, as well as a draggable progress bar.