Last month we took a look at Google's Android Compatibility Definition Document, which stated that OEMs must use white icons if they're using translucent status bars. This change could provide a more uniform experience across Android devices, something that would be better for consumers and developers alike. But the question remains - will OEMs play ball? Well, the folks at SamMobile have gotten their hands on a leaked Android 4.4 build for the Galaxy S4, and it looks like the answer, at least from the leading Android manufacturer, may be yes.

Sam1 Sam2 Sam3

That's right, those are white icons in the status bar up there. It's impressive how much of a difference one small change can make. In addition to that, there's now a camera icon on the lockscreen. SamMoble also mentions a tweaked keyboard in landscape mode, performance improvements, and slightly higher benchmark scores.

This test firmware is version I9505XXUFNA1 for the international Galaxy S4 (GT-I9505). If you have this variant and want to try the build out for yourself (at your own risk, of course), SamMobile has provided a download with instructions at the link below.

Source: SamMobile

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Ryuuie

    Suddenly, TouchWiz was catapulted from Gingerbread to KitKat.

    • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

      Not really. That blue tone on the menus of some apps (look at pic 3), the style of the notification shade (with all that same blue and that green), the "volume sliders" box... If these haven't changed, they haven't got holo-ified, then, and it makes for an inconsistent experience. At least I used to cringe at these things...

      • Elislurry

        Yeah, still looks pretty much like Gingerbread. No big changes.

        • Ryuuie

          Shhh. :v

          Let Samsung think it's perfect.

          Either way, it looks better than that horrible green.

          • Elislurry

            The horrible green is still there as soon as you swipe down to see notifications though.

          • Ryuuie

            It's still made by Samsung. I am not surprised. :P

          • hot_spare

            Nothing's perfect. But I wonder how Samsung sells more than 50million smartphones with Gingerbread colours ever quarter. Maybe they just hold a gun against the head and force us to buy their smartphones. And why is the reluctance of common people to get a fan-favorite Nexus or a Lumia? Afterall they cost relatively cheaper than Samsung phones.

          • Ryuuie


            Advertising and the commissions that the employees get make people think that Samsung is the best goddamn phone you will ever buy that's not an iPhone. Notice, I did not say Android because, to the general public, Samsung phones aren't Android, they are "Galaxy phones" or "Samsung phones".

            To me, it's just as bad as holding a gun to someone's head, it's using the gullibility of most people to talk them into doing something by telling them that they have no other choices but this ONE thing (unless it's an iPhone, in which case, that is your ONLY. OTHER. CHOICE. EVER.)

            Seriously. It's pretty shitty.

      • Ryuuie

        Hey, I didn't say it was good.

        It's still absolute shit regardless. At least they've stepped a LITTLE into the future. ;)

    • whispy_snippet

      Not. At. All.

      • Ryuuie

        Read. The. Other. Posts.

    • ithehappy

      TouchWiz was never GB, it is the best framework, one agrees or not, that's the truth, but yeah, it certainly is NOT for KIDS.

      • Ryuuie

        What? Ahaha...no.

        TouchWiz looks like shit, acts like shit, BREAKS things that are supposed to work fine in stock Android, and, overall, is a big steaming pile of shit.

        The framework is shitty too. :3

        Only a child, someone new to Android, a script kiddy from XDA, or someone who's on Samsung's payroll would claim that it's "the best". It's not, not by far.

        Whatever floats your broken, on fire, Gingerbread boat though!

        • ithehappy

          Lol, I should have stated at the beginning of my comment,
          "this comment might butthurt CM fanboys".
          Sorry :P

          • Ryuuie

            Probably! Never used CM before.

            However, I apologize on your behalf to those who use CM and had to read your bad post. :P

          • q

            What a huge dumbfuck.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Wwwwwait... Samsung following guidelines HTC isn't?

    • HebeGuess

      As mentioned in previous Android Police coverage on the topic, the HTC One Dev build out there was being prepare+released before the Android CCD published.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

    Of all the screenshots that SamMobile provided, one thing that we can't see is a "tap to pay" option that most Nexus and GPE devices got with their KitKat updates (including the GS4 GPE). I'm not sure if it's just not in the screenshots or just isn't there at all. If it's not there, it definitely has nothing to do with compatibility. The GS4 GPE has the tap to pay option, so obviously its NFC chip can support host card emulation. If it is indeed excluded, I would guess Samsung might have done it to appease carriers. But, this is a test build, and things get shut off and turned back on between builds all the time, so who knows if the final builds will have it or not. Just figured it was worth noting.

    • usaff22

      I believe someone on reddit said it worked.

  • ben

    ugly as hell, touchwiz is the nastiest piece of ****...imo

    • BigTimmay

      **** ***

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

        Let's play "guess the response" Hangman! I'll go first. Is there an "F" in there?

        • Rick Perez

          +1.... Upvote....

          • BigTimmay


        • Deeco

          "u" maybe?

  • hyperbolic

    I am glad Samsung has redesigned their launcher.
    But it is too late for me as a consumer. it took me a while to understand it is all about the Google experience. :)
    Hello Nexus.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

      Thus why I use a GS4 Google Play Edition as my daily driver. Kick-ass hardware, stock Android, and fast updates = best of both worlds.

      • hyperbolic

        The update from Samsung or Google ?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

          Samsung takes it, builds the kernel and ROM, then submits it to Google who rolls it out to the devices. Historically speaking, the GPE devices have usually received their updates within 2 weeks of the Nexus devices. That's perfectly fine in my opinion.

      • NemaCystX

        lol updates not faster than the Moto X

      • Tomáš Petrík

        That would be my choice too, if it was available outside the US.

  • Grimmjow

    looks like a fake..no way they are changing colors or their theme before it gets to the S5.

    • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

      Well this _is_ a test build. Maybe it's gonna be ready by the time S5 is out but they'll wait to realease it anyway....

    • Luis Medina

      The screenshots are legit, besides, if an OEM will upgrade to Kit Kat, Google has specific guidelines for this version, the status bar icons HAVE TO be white, is not optional, eventually Sony, HTC, Samsung and so on will adopt the white color for the icons if they want to use the latest version of Android in their current or new devices.

    • Crispin Swickard

      The S5 will probably launch with it, and then it will be rolled to the S4 just like when the previous S line launched with newer versions. They will probably leave only the new devices with it for a bit to long just to get some people antsy enough to grab a new device instead of waiting. Which I still believe is still part of some of the extremely long update times.

  • Elislurry

    Still looks awful. Was hoping for big changes to touchwiz.

    • crackinthewall

      They'll reserve it for the S5. Worst case scenario is that they give S4/Note 3 users the new TW (the one in the S5) with the 4.5/5.0 update. Though with their recent push for software given that the S4, Note II and the S III each received 4.3 a month apart, we can hope that they rollout the new TW after the release of the S4 with or without a new version of Android.

  • mlj11

    ... and slightly higher benchmark scores.

    So... they even cheat mid (device-life) cycle?

  • Nathan Bryant

    I hope when the S5 comes out, they have an updated and modern look for Touchwiz.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

      That may very well happen judging by the screenshots of those new Galaxy Tab Pro and Galaxy Note Pro tablets. Don't look for any major redesign to make it onto older devices like the GS4 and Note 3, though. That's a support nightmare for both Samsung and its carrier partners around the world to make big, drastic design changes mid-way through a device's lifecycle. You get inundated with people wanting to know how to get it back to the way it was and why this setting was moved, etc.

      • NemaCystX

        didn't see the drastic redesign that was leaked I take it?


      • crackinthewall

        Nah, they'll make it if the redesigns are that major. Samsung did it for the S II even though they gave it Nature UX in the JB update. We might have to wait for the 4.5/5.0 before we get a new version of TW though.

  • Mehmet Fatih

    I actually like Touchwiz after 4.3, with the white notif. icons it looks better than ever. Touchwiz from 4.1.2 or olders were crap as hell in terms of design, though.

  • Fifth313ment

    I don't want white icons. Arg

    • Muhammad Najmi Mohd Amir

      yeah personally I don't like it too.

  • Slawootsky

    The lockscreen looks surprisingly nice.

  • Guest

    At least, they use white icon on statut bar with gradiant background

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

    I got the play with the NotePro, which runs KitKat, and that had white icons too, along with a (new?) super-fugly notification shade. http://i.imgur.com/cmD5rko.jpg

    • Sir_Brizz

      Good lord that notification shade............

    • EH101

      I... actually like the design of the notification tray, but hate the colors.

    • Nightfall

      Eeeew... I just threw up!

    • Elislurry

      Copy Apple much Samsung? This is going to get them sued again, its a straight IOS7 ripoff which is super ugly anyway so not sure why they felt the need to copy it.

    • whispy_snippet

      That's just so bad I can't...

      • hot_spare

        Then don't.. Why torture yourself??

    • usaff22

      The flat, green icons are a DIRECT ripoff of Settings in iOS 7. Not that it looks particularly special or great anyway...

    • Crispin Swickard

      Oh no Samsung, oh no. Guess Apple, and Samsung making up is going to change soon.

      Its kind of better looking than the old one, but doesn't match the rest of the menus, and things that seem to be about the same as they have been for years now... I hope they did something with the atrocious screen space wasting default messaging program.

    • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

      So much better than the existing crap though.

    • epicmau5time

      I actually like it

    • Bobby Phoenix

      This with TouchWiz 5 leak images, and I think I'm running a Windows phone. :/

    • Guest

      As long as I they still have a removable battery and expandable storage, they can make it even uglier. I don't care.

      • namesib

        Agreed. The UI can be changed if you don't like it.

    • hot_spare

      I am sure beauty and fugliness is a matter of individual preference. Your opinion is as valid as 7 billion other people.

      There's a reason for using green colour (I don't like spelling it as color) in UI. The eye is more sensitive to green (or yellowish-green) light than any other colours. That's a scientific fact, and relates to cone cell structure. Whether Samsung uses green for same logic, I don't know. But saying one colour is better than other is purely personal opinion and subjective.

      Ever thought why PenTile displays use RGBG (ie, 2x green sub-pixels compared to red and blue)?

      • xHabeasCorpusx

        You are correct. I met a Samsung rep who told me that.

    • Yash Ostwal

      This probably wont make it to the S4! And I so hope it doesnt!

      • peter

        They just did mines all white or grayish color

  • Leif Sikorski

    Not such a big change for S4 users, Samsung had already grayish icons (except the battery) for quite some time.

  • ather akber

    Sure, no love for the note 3

  • Rob H.

    Touchwiz is beginning to look a little more tolerable. Come on Google with an official GEL App.

    • Yash Ostwal

      You know you can still install the GEL by side loading it! I do that! Dont expect Samsung to get GEL like experience on the TW. And I dont see any plans by Google to release the GEL to other devices soon! :(

  • crackinthewall

    Hopefully they revamp the untouched parts in this update for the S5's UI. The notification toggles are still the same shade of dark grey and neon green, the toggles in the settings still looks uglier than Tizen's more rounded toggles and there are still bits where Holo Blue shines through. Can't really blame Samsung when even Google has a problem letting Holo Blue go.

    • Yash Ostwal

      If Samsung are actually going ahead with what evleaks had posted a few days back, dont expect Samsung go anywhere near GEL in the new UI. Flatter icons and gaudy colours is all thats changed! And I hate it! Having said that, although GEL is super awesome, it needs to mature a little more.

      • crackinthewall

        Uh, the S3's launcher was pretty much a visual copy of the ICS launcher at the time. Though there are some differences obviously.

  • AllPurposeRadio

    I just want the persistent toggles in the notification tray to go away...die...cease to be...everything else I dislike about Touchwiz is taken care of by using Nova or Action Launcher.

  • jonathan3579

    Now to just remove the rest of TouchWiz..

  • Christopher Robert

    Anyone heard if it will have ART?

  • Jacob Chang

    what's the obsession with all this curved thing, see bit.ly/19Zx6921

  • Stanley Chan

    Wanam exposed and nova laucher are working?

    Ill only change my 4.3 with all working smooth. My 4.3 is running flawless.

  • Tony Byatt

    It would be nice if the notification pull down matched the ones on the new tablets at CES...

  • chris

    Hate it or love show otherwise. You can add both of your "vanilla Android phones" the nexus 5 or moto x, and they wouldn't even add up to a tenth of Samsung's sales. If its selling is because people like it right? Hate as much as u want and Samsung will keep selling their devices.

    I get the point of every single one of you. You hate Samsungng with a passion and thats ok. Now my point is that its getting old with all these negative comments. Its stupid and pointless because at the end of the day your comments are meaningless. Who is going to care how much you hate a company? All of you need to grow up or get a life. Be happy with your device and SHUT UP ALREADY!

  • chris

    Hate it or love show otherwise. You can add both of your "vanilla Android phones" the nexus 5 or moto x, and they wouldn't even add up to a tenth of Samsung's sales. If its selling is because people like it right? Hate as much as u want and Samsung will keep selling their devices.

    I get the point of every single one of you. You hate Samsungng with a passion and thats ok. Now my point is that its getting old with all these negative comments. Its stupid and pointless because at the end of the day your comments are meaningless. Who is going to care how much you hate a company? All of you need to grow up or get a life. Be happy with your device and SHUT UP ALREADY!

  • Robin

    CM11 fixed my S4. Touchwiz is uggly, slow, bloated, ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, outdated after a year, delayed updates, ugly, shitty, slow, shitty.

    • Yash Ostwal

      For the i9500 users, CM is also a distant option at present! Hope they get a good stable release soon! And then no one has to worry if Samsung update their devices on time or not! CM FTW!

      • Abudi

        Agree bro...Had I known the I9500 doesn't get support at the time of buying, I would have ordered the i9505 version online. (I9505 not available in India..only the I9500. Sigh.)

  • Daniel Song

    Hurray! Now to wait a year for it to come out on s3... :/

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

      Don't bank on it. The GS3 is almost 2 years old now. While it may get another bugfix update, I think 4.3 will be its last OS update. Not a bad run, though, considering it started its life on 4.0/ICS and ended up on 4.3/JB. That's the same run that the Galaxy Nexus had. No shame in that!

      • Daniel Song

        That's very true... I'm in a three year contract, so I'm going to have to be stuck an old version of android for awhile... Still good to be optimistic! :)

        let's hope for a final update for the gs3!

      • taz89

        Sammobile and also leaks have said the s3 will get 4.4 sometimes in q2/q3...the s3 is still one of there top selling phones.

    • Gregory Cabral


    • Yash Ostwal

      2 words - Get CM!

      • Daniel Song

        I would, if they had a cm version for my phone...! Don't know if they have one for the i747m...

  • fredphoesh
  • Stanley Chan

    Everybody that use exynos devices forget it guys. Sammy is not like apple thyre really bat at socs and the support for these kind of technologie.

    Thats why today every new good smart have Qualcomm.
    Theyre the best is thechnology and open codes.

    In your next smart try to choose a Qualcomm socs. Yull will discover another world of development.

  • devin quigley

    Finally!! No more Gingerbread green battery icon!!

    • Joseph Hindman

      how did you get the icon back to green from white, this is also bothering me !!!

  • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

    @Bertel: You missed a letter:
    "SamMoble also mentions a tweaked keyboard in landscape mode, performance improvements, and slightly higher benchmark scores."

  • Michelle

    It's hard to see everything white. I hate changes.

  • tundra runner

    This just happened to my Galaxy s4. With a update. Liked the green battery. So is this suppose to be better?

  • storm

    I have just done an upgrade on my phone and really dont like the white icons....anyway I can change it back?

  • Crystal Rae

    Just bring back the color. It's dull. Lifeless. Give me the color. Why do you have to change unnecessary things.

  • Shenae Dow

    How do you make it go back to being all colourful. I don't like the white.