While we've had a chance to put Samsung's upcoming flagship Tab 10.1 tablet through 3 weeks of rigorous testing, there was one thing left that we could not touch - the custom TouchWiz UX tablet interface, also known as TouchWiz 4.0. If you remember, Samsung announced last week that the first tablet units would be running pure Honeycomb, just like our review unit, with the TouchWiz upgrade arriving over-the-air sometime after.

This didn't stop Phone Arena from acquiring some Tab 8.9 hardware with TouchWiz UX already pre-installed and digging through it, looking for goodies Samsung packaged with their soon-to-come overlay. We've already seen some of them during the CTIA keynote, but Phone Arena goes into some more detail and shows us some things we didn't see during the announcement.

Those of you who have experience with custom overlays, and TouchWiz specifically, might be cringing this very moment, but in my opinion, it's quite possible that Samsung managed to avoid screwing up this time. Of course, real-life testing when the tablets are released may disprove this claim, but so far I don't see any negative additions (like the overly colorful and foreign to Android app launcher on the regular TouchWiz). This might just hold us over until the custom ROM community gets a hold of the Ice Cream Sandwich code later this year and flexes its muscle before truly unleashing an array of customizations you couldn't even dream about right now.

image image

Here are the most interesting things you will see in the video walkthrough - there isn't much (that's not necessarily a bad thing), but what is there is pretty great:

  • A nice control bar full of useful toggles right in the notification area - hallelujah!
  • A brightness slider also in the notification area without requiring that extra click - this is the feature I use the most, so I'm quite excited about it as well.
  • A Mini Apps Tray that can be pulled up at any time by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. It seems like it only contains a bunch of mini-apps, and it's not clear whether they could be changed to regular app shortcuts. It's most definitely a very useful feature, if Samsung doesn't screw it up by locking down which apps can be launched.
  • Live Panels that let you resize widgets (though Android 3.1 already has that).
  • The same widgets as on the Galaxy S2 (weather, date/time, etc, which are frankly pretty ugly).

So there you have it - the TouchWiz UX, oddly lacking bloat and crapware, leaving me with a strange sense of hope. I'm not sure whether the final version will have more features or we've already seen everything, but at this point I'm no longer dreading the day when the OTA icon shows up on my Tab.

Source: Phone Arena

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Aaron

    If this is mandatory, I'll be quite pissed. I like stock HC, and would really appreciate it if Samsung leaves the decision to me.

  • Michael

    Wow I gotta say I am actually impressed! i love the popup stuff!
    Edit: hate the look but love the apps

  • http://www.droidapp.co.uk Tony

    Looks great, did not expect to say that :-)

  • The_Omega_Man

    I like the app overlay! With that I can be much more productive... I do hope that they will allow other apps to be put in the mini-app-tray....

  • Pedro

    Meh, too many colors in that UI : green, orange, and the Honeycomb's blue that samsung failed to replace. And the widgets are kinda ugly...
    The miny apps tray is a nice add.
    I wish Samsung'll let the choice to the user...

  • ASR

    I have the Transfomer and I think two nice features over stock: 1) mini apps and 2) toggle buttons. This is neat, indeed. I wish we can port them over!

  • Jeroen

    It just takes all character from Honeycomb to make it bland, generic, more like other products.
    Just give me stock Android and offer those that want TW the ability to download it or switch it on or something.

    • Gogol

      You got stock on 10.1. TW will be push on update later.

  • Zigmar

    Actually looks ok, besides the gallery app which looks like crap compared to stock one.