It would be a stretch to describe Samsung’s version of Android — aka TouchWiz — as just another user interface “skin.” A complete user experience (UX) is probably more appropriate, with Samsung’s custom Android software featuring a full set of their own in-house applications and services that reach into all levels of the OS.
It’s been a roller coaster of a ride since TouchWiz was first introduced on the original Samsung Galaxy S (landing Samsung in legal hot water over their half-assed attempt at cloning Apple’s iOS). We’ll admit, on one hand we loved Samsung’s ambitious approach to Android, improving upon the core OS with features like split-screen apps, floating widgets, and robust camera software.
On the other hand, TouchWiz’s kitchen sink approach has snowballed out of control, to the point where it seemed like Samsung was changing things just for the sake of changing things (showing off is probably a better description), with device performance suffering as a result. It’s clear they need to start over and according to recent rumors, they just might — starting with the Samsung Galaxy S6.
Today, the folks at SamMobile have reportedly received new details as to what we can expect from this new TouchWiz. While we’re not sure on the overall look, Samsung will provide for theme options which we’re crossing our fingers will include a “stock Android Lollipop theme” but that’s just wishful thinking at this point. Other UI tweaks are said to include the following:
- Samsung’s stock apps are more “colorful”
- Users can select between 4×4, 4×5 and 5×5 icon layouts in the app drawer
- App drawer no longer supports endless scrolling
- Music app still runs in full-screen mode at all times
- Dialer app looks “green as grass” (whatever that means)
- Default keyboard UI looks like a mix of Galaxy Tab S keyboard and iOS
As far as performance goes, the Galaxy S6’s version of TouchWiz is being described as “amazingly fast,” even snappier than the Note 4’s recent Lollipop update. That’s not to say the UI will be stripped down in anyway, with Samsung’s version of Lollipop on the Galaxy S6 featuring a plethora of Material design animations.
There’s also further confirmation that Samsung will be removing a good majority of their pre-installed apps (S Note, S This, S That, S Etc.), making them downloadable from the Samsung’s own Galaxy app store. Before you get too excited, that’s not to say the phone wont come with any bloatware pre-installed. Quite the contrary.
In light of news that Microsoft and Samsung have recently ended all legal disputes over patent licensing agreements, sources claim the Galaxy S6 will come out of the box with a full suite of Microsoft’s Android applications, including Microsoft OneNote, OneDrive, Skype, and even Office Mobile with free Office 365 subscription. We wonder what motivated this move?
With the exception of pre-installed Microsoft apps (we’re hoping these can be uninstalled), so far we like what we’re hearing about this new version of TouchWiz. With Samsung overhauling the UI last year, it sounds crazy that they’d be doing it again for a followup model. Of course, we’ll learn more during their March 1st event when everything is finally revealed. We are excite.