How the Samsung Galaxy S III made my day then broke my heart in less than a week

How the Samsung Galaxy S III made my day then broke my heart in less than a weekYou know that thing where you look forward to something so much, you get really excited, you count the sleeps until the day? And then the day comes and you get an essence of "meh"? That.

OK, so I’m going to make myself sound like a bit of a saddo here but that’s what I felt like with the Samsung Galaxy S III which launched just over a week ago.

Here’s where I’m coming from – I was a proud Galaxy S II owner. I am very hard to please and change my gadgets every few months. The fact that I had my Galaxy S II for almost six was a real testament to its longevity. Indeed, I only replaced it with an old iPhone 4S because I sold it in anticipation of how great the new Galaxy S III was going to be.

So, come launch day, I was one of those at the Samsung store in Stratford. I queued up and volunteered two hours of my life I’ll never get back, though the free champagne, canapés and entertainment did go some way to mitigating this. And I excitedly got home, tearing open the bag to reveal my new precious.

Which is where it started to go wrong. For me, it was just one thing that managed to ruin my love of the S3 and in managed to do it over the course of a single day. A small thing, but a biggie. If you’re a Mac owner – and using the Galaxy S III as your PMP is your goal, prepare for disappointment.

Google has changed the way storage is handled in Android 4.0 ICS. It's become a fan of the MTP protocol (which, we're told, is for good reason). Unfortunately, MTP and Mac OS X are not friends. The only invites to that party outside the Apple circle of trust are given to Windows users.

What does this mean? Well, in essence, mass storage mode has been removed. Mac users have to download a plugin, which is buggy at best and creates a kind of alternative mass storage mode that no longer plays with dedicated syncing apps like iSyncr or DoubleTwist.

So, I spent three days of the long weekend sitting in front of a computer and wasting my life on trying to find a solution that, quite frankly, doesn’t exist. From XDA to Android Forums and beyond, I begged, pleaded for help. But nobody knew the answer.

In fact, the most elegant solution ended up being dragging and dropping using the faux storage mode mentioned above. And even then, only 3500 of 7000 songs (DRM free) would go.

iSyncr was a brilliant piece of software that sync playslists and playcounts and one that played so harmoniously with the SII on Gingerbread. But using it on an SIII is like pulling teeth. Painfully.

To be fair, all the technical help peeps I spoke to were great, with the developer contacting me personally trying to sort it out, but also admitting that he has spent months working on an MTP version which Google and Samsung seem to have ruined and now he is having to code like crazy to keep his loyal fanbase loyal.

And here’s where this early adopter has to eat humble pie and swallow the fact that being one of the first to get the latest piece of tech was not necessarily a great thing to happen this time. Those friends who had to endure me waving my new Galaxy S III in their faces and telling them that their iPhones were rubbish are having the last laugh now. My S3 is now winging its way to a new owner who won’t be troubled by such things.

And therein, for me, lies the lesson. Don’t get too excited, because technology can let you down in one fell swoop.

Yes, this was a personal experience and many others will feel differently - after all, many users will never face this problem as I have, and looking at the reviews it seems the Galaxy S III has otherwise been well received. But for now, my latest mobile love affair has lasted about as long as a Kardashian marriage. And I can’t hide the disappointment.

Read more about: Samsung Galaxy S3Android

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45 comments

theunforgiven  Jun. 6, 2012 at 19:30

you are putting an awful lot of blame on samsung and google. now i've always have been a pc person through and through and dont have much technical knowledge but just curious that in this article absolutely no blame is being put on apple or have samsung really messed up that bad?

phillavelle  Jun. 6, 2012 at 19:38

I believe they have. There has never been an 'official' syncing solution with Apple. That is, of course, reserved for iDevices and Cupertino would never officially launch Android syncing software. But what's happened here is that Google has (for its own good reasons) gone with a protocol that is primarily PC friendly and not cross-platform friendly as before. The developer from iSyncr told me that Google and Samsung have pretty much screwed up the way it all works.
I must stress that with Gingerbread devices (including my S2), it always worked like a dream.

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 6, 2012 at 20:01

I believe they have. There has never been an 'official' syncing solution with Apple. That is, of course, reserved for iDevices and Cupertino would never officially launch Android syncing software. But what's happened here is that Google has (for its own good reasons) gone with a protocol that is primarily PC friendly and not cross-platform friendly as before. The developer from iSyncr told me that Google and Samsung have pretty much screwed up the way it all works.
I must stress that with Gingerbread devices (including my S2), it always worked like a dream.


Agree. Google's MTP is cr*p on Linux also. I had no problems with The HTC one X and S - neither on Mac nor on Ununtu... But the Sony Xperia S and, to a degree,even the SGS2 wasn't much joy...
Furthermore, there are sync solutions for WP and, hello, Symbian available for Mac - even in the official Appstore. So, it doesn't was that it's somehow Apple's fault, if Google or their handset partners cannot be a*sed to deliver... I can even sync the 'Meego' N9 with our Macbook...

matt101101 / MOD  Jun. 6, 2012 at 20:18

Lets look at the other side of the story for a minute here. 95% (ish) of the PC market is made up of various versions of Windows, that's the vast majority of the market taken care of. I don't doubt that Samsung's actions have severely disadvantaged the remaining ~5% of the market, but that doesn't detract from the fact that they've catered for most of the market.

Put it this way, if the weather forecast said there was a 5% chance of rain, I wonder how many people would actually bother taking an umbrella with them "just in case"? I reckon, very few...

matt101101 / MOD  Jun. 6, 2012 at 20:24

Here's a quote from Dan Morrill, a Google Android Engineer involved with the development of ICS:

It isn't physically possible to support UMS on devices that don't have a dedicated partition for storage (like a removable SD card, or a separate partition like Nexus S.) This is because UMS is a block-level protocol that gives the host PC direct access to the physical blocks on the storage, so that Android cannot have it mounted at the same time.

With the unified storage model we introduced in Honeycomb, we share your full 32GB (or 16GB or whatever) between app data and media data. That is, no more staring sadly at your 5GB free on Nexus S when your internal app data partition has filled up -- it's all one big happy volume.

However the cost is that Android can no longer ever yield up the storage for the host PC to molest directly over USB. Instead we use MTP. On Windows (which the majority of users use), it has built-in MTP support in Explorer that makes it look exactly like a disk. On Linux and Mac it's sadly not as easy, but I have confidence that we'll see some work to make this better.


In my opinion the massive advantage of not having to split the storage into set "chunks" for data and apps allows people more freedom to do as they with with their phone and is probably worth alienating a very small part of the market for.

Sunoh1976  Jun. 6, 2012 at 21:04

I'm a Mac User and always had problems syncing my BlackBerry so I compromise by using Google Sync for my contacts and calendar, it also works as mass storage for music/video/photos etc and now I have Dropbox.
I was going for a SIII as I've always avoided iPhones (always felt they were overpriced and overrated) but this issue may be a deal breaker.
DId you try Kies?
http://www.samsung.com/uk/support/usefulsoftware/KIES/JSP

ipeterxxs42  Jun. 6, 2012 at 21:12

well at least it will only a effect a small percentage of SIII owners (Mac's are specialist bits of kit people buy to run specific specialist apps)

9El9Nino9  Jun. 6, 2012 at 21:28

tried to adb push?

MikeEd79  Jun. 6, 2012 at 22:19

Sorry, but i'm a Mac user. I use it at home for general word processing and surfing the internet - theres nothing 'specialist' about that. I have a Mac because I like them.

I ditched my iPhone 4 today in favour of an S3 because the iPhone is, imho, useless as a phone - constantly hanging, dropping calls, failing to end calls (up to 5 minutes to do so). I got the S3 because it is the newest bit of kit on the market and has outstanding reviews - and not ONE mentioned the incompatability with iMacs. All I wanted to do was plug my phone in, drop some photos onto it, try out the DivX player (something lacking on the iPhone) and generally get to know it. No such luck.

KIES won't detect it, even using the wireless function on the S3. It won't connect via USB, and the Android Sync app won't detect it.

This is a massive failing on the part of someone - there should at least be the option to disable/enable MTP for the time being. I'm sure there'll be something soon to work around the problem - but the workaround should have been done before the product was launched.

MikeEd79  Jun. 6, 2012 at 22:28

Update: Kies WILL detect the S3 on a Mac, but only via WiFi. Why won't USB work? Its daft!

the porter  Jun. 6, 2012 at 23:17

is this handset now on AVF classifieds? or different person

adam.mt  Jun. 6, 2012 at 23:28

Why not store your media on SD card?

Not sure if it'll be directly accessible then or you'll need to remove it and insert into a card reader but it's a workable solution.

Alternatively, doesn't DoubleTwist sync media over the air (AirTwist add-on costs just £5)?

See also http://www.doubletwist.com/help/question/can-i-sync-my-galaxy-nexus-using-usb/

Other apps do the same sync over the air I believe, and that's before investigating Cloud storage like the free 50GB Dropbox account.

Seems there's quite a few alternatives besides ditching the phone!

rash  Jun. 7, 2012 at 00:14

Just to add my 2 cents - MTP is SHIIIITTTTEEEE, it doesn't **just work** like mass storage in Linux fiddling around with udev rules is no fun!

matt101101 / MOD  Jun. 7, 2012 at 00:59

Just to add my 2 cents - MTP is SHIIIITTTTEEEE, it doesn't **just work** like mass storage in Linux fiddling around with udev rules is no fun!
Google made it clear back in November 2011 that MTP and Linux didn't play nicely together. This can't have come as a shock to you?

rash  Jun. 7, 2012 at 01:02

Just to add my 2 cents - MTP is SHIIIITTTTEEEE, it doesn't **just work** like mass storage in Linux fiddling around with udev rules is no fun!
Google made it clear back in November 2011 that MTP and Linux didn't play nicely together. This can't have come as a shock to you?


It wouldn't have been a shock if I had as much time as you reading random stuff on the net lol! ;-)

phillavelle  Jun. 7, 2012 at 01:04

@ ipeterxxs42 - Totally disagree. Macs are no longer specialist equipment. They may not be on the same sale levels as PC's but they're pretty mainstream nowadays. That statement is very 1995.

@ theporter. Yes it was. now been sold

@adam.mt - didn't work for me because you have to format the card in the phone and then when you use a card reader, says it can't recognise it.

Surely the issue here is that you have to go through all of these methods when you shouldn't have to. Where's the "it just works" policy? I agree, Google could have done something different. For example, the ICS running HTC One X manages to sync easily enough.

matt101101 / MOD  Jun. 7, 2012 at 01:10

Just to add my 2 cents - MTP is SHIIIITTTTEEEE, it doesn't **just work** like mass storage in Linux fiddling around with udev rules is no fun!
Google made it clear back in November 2011 that MTP and Linux didn't play nicely together. This can't have come as a shock to you?


It wouldn't have been a shock if I had as much time as you reading random stuff on the net lol! ;-)

So when you say MTP is sh*te, what you actually mean is "for ~95% of the PC using world, MTP has significant advantages over UMS due to memory not being allocated rigidly for either data or apps, but for the ~5% of non-Windows users, it's sh*te as it won't work with non-Windows computers".

There's nothing wrong with reading random stuff...if you read more random stuff you'd have been saved all these "MTP on Linux" related headaches :p.

Treab  Jun. 7, 2012 at 02:55

@ ipeterxxs42 - Totally disagree. Macs are no longer specialist equipment. They may not be on the same sale levels as PC's but they're pretty mainstream nowadays. That statement is very 1995.

still true actually its why pcs are more commonly used... especially for

Gamers
Work place environments
Schools
Hospitals

apple macs are much better for designers such as architects etc but for day to day use internet work docs pcs are cheaper, much easier due to shear numbers of programs available...

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 7, 2012 at 06:57

I'm sure it'll be sorted.
Still, maybe a list? "101 Reasons not to buy the SGS3"?
Mcrosfrost launched a whole batch of WP devices without any way to use it on Macs or Linux.
Hey, when they launched Vista, they forgot a sync program to use WinMo devices hahaha
There's real suckiness.

Seriously though:

Phil was quite clear in admitting his 'fickleness' - changing phones every 2 months or so, etc yada...
For most people the required workarounds or limitations are possibly of little concern - many million iOS users live with those quite well.
But I can be a bit Philly too - especially when dealing with 'flagships' and the oh-so 'unrestricted and, ooh, "open"' Android platform. Potato - po-tah-to...

The Macs and Linux users don't count argument is a bit odd though - in a situation where handset makers hire 'analysts' for a daily flogging with sales and shipping numbers!
Yes, Macs and Linux flavours may only account for 5-7%, but we are s'posed to be impressed when one OS beats the other by 0.2%...when one OS has 5 more apps in the appstore.
Also, it is not that long ago when everyone used IE and f*ck Firefox or Opera users, right? My website rocks.
Mass storage mode served as one of THE big advantages of Android over iOS, lets be honest. But now that Google wag a smart finger at it, it's suddenly great they ditch it? Hahahaha where's the irony? Everytime Apple u-turn, there are a million jokes and rants on the webz within minutes. If Google were all that concerned with squeezing every last bit of speed out of Android, they'd put an end to Touchwiz and Sense! Or they could make a unified Android PC suite that is Mac compatible.

droidster  Jun. 7, 2012 at 07:30

[mod edit: I'm letting this bit of promo stand for now because it has some level of relevance. But you gotta make it sound less PR-ish in future to not ring my spam-bell, okay ;) )
I use Airdroid to move files, its free on google play :)

What is AirDroid?

AirDroid is a fast, free app that lets you wirelessly manage & control your Android devices (phone & tablet) from a web browser. It’s designed with the vision to bridge the gap between your Android device and web browser, on desktop computers or tablet devices, on Windows, Mac/iOS, or Linux.
What can I do with AirDroid?

You can use AirDroid to send/receive SMS (text messages, if supported by the device), install/uninstall apps, transfer files between Android device and computer/tablet, and manage contacts, photos, music, videos, and ringtones, etc., all in a web browser. Install AirDroid on your Android device and open your favorite web browser to experience it yourself.

skinrush  Jun. 7, 2012 at 09:17

I had an initial similar experience in trying to get my music and photos from iTunes/iPhoto on my mac to my SIII. It was quite frustrating.

After some research, I first downloaded an app on the mac app store called Syncmate, which partially worked. The problem was that it didn't have any status bar telling you how long was left until sync was complete, and part way through the process, it would just crash. That was £6.99 unwisely spent, although it was useful in getting contacts onto the phone.

I then came across the Android File Transfer app for mac, which mounts the phone and sd card (if you have one) when connected by USB. You can then select your tracks in your itunes playlists and drag and drop them into the phone or SD card folders in the ardroid file transfer app.

Not quite as elegant as syncing an iphone in itunes, but reletively simple and totally effective.

reids  Jun. 7, 2012 at 10:04

I've not had a chance to play with an S3 but my S2 is running ICS so I have MTP issues too but I still have usb storage mode via Settings/More.../USB Utilities is that not on the S3 ICS?

bex85  Jun. 7, 2012 at 10:23

Is that the only qualm you had with the phone though? Mine's supposed to be delivered today and very excited. Could have got it in store launch day but, got a much better deal online, just a shame about the bank holidays lol. I don't have a Mac so that won't be an issue to me.

adam.mt  Jun. 7, 2012 at 22:31

A few minutes with Google and here's the answer:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_Transfer_Protocol

As you can see MTP is a standard established by Microsoft 8 years ago which is free for others to use. It can be implemented on Mac by the Google software here*:
http://www.android.com/filetransfer/

(* mentioned by Skinrush above, but no link provided).

The reason you've had problems Phil is because Apple decided it's not worth adding to OS X. It's not Google's or Microsoft's fault, it's Apple's. Accept it. Thankfully, Google have provided a solution but it seems they've not publicised it sufficiently.

[BTW I consider both OS X and Windows as good computing platforms which both have pros/cons; it's important to remember they work slightly different though, and with each you have to workaround issues. For Apple, these tend to occur if you attempt to work outside their 'walled garden' (desire to control everything). That's why some established standards get discarded, eg. discouragement of Adobe Flash, MTP, Windows Media etc. and reinventing the wheel (and demanding a licence fee) with AirPlay.]

Also, if you format a SD card in the exFAT file system (Windows XP with updates or OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.5 upwards) then it'll be readable by both phone and computer, for easy file transfer.
update: FAT32 should work fine too apparently, so not sure why it didn't work for you.

matt101101 / MOD  Jun. 7, 2012 at 22:48

A few minutes with Google and here's the answer:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_Transfer_Protocol

As you can see MTP is a standard established by Microsoft 8 years ago which is free for others to use. It can be implemented on Mac by the Google software here*:
http://www.android.com/filetransfer/

(* mentioned by Skinrush above, but no link provided).

The reason you've had problems Phil is because Apple decided it's not worth adding to OS X. It's not Google's or Microsoft's fault, it's Apple's. Accept it. Thankfully, Google have provided a solution but it seems they've not publicised it sufficiently.

[BTW I consider both OS X and Windows as good computing platforms which both have pros/cons; it's important to remember they work slightly different though, and with each you have to workaround issues. For Apple, these tend to occur if you attempt to work outside their 'walled garden' (desire to control everything). That's why some established standards get discarded, eg. discouragement of Adobe Flash, MTP, Windows Media etc. and reinventing the wheel (and demanding a licence fee) with AirPlay.]

Also, if you format a SD card in the exFAT file system (Windows XP with updates or OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.5 upwards) then it'll be readable by both phone and computer, for easy file transfer.

This is a fantastic comment, I genuinely couldn't (and haven't) put it better myself.

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