If you often find yourself asking "yeah, but what if it didn't have an app drawer?" in regard to your Galaxy phone, good news: Samsung is testing a very big TouchWiz redesign that eliminates makes it optional... in China and Korea. Sorry, I know that was kind of a tease. But Samsung is testing something called "New Note UX" (I WONDER WHAT THAT REFERS TO) on the Galaxy Note 5 as part of its new Galaxy Beta Program. It looks different-y.
Hey there everyone! My name is Mark. You might have seen me floating around here lately, so I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. I make videos! I hope you like videos. If you’ve never seen any of my other content, go give it a look. I think you’ll find that we’ll get along just fine as long as we’re all nice to each other.
I’m a big gamer. I’ve been streaming a ton of Overwatch on Twitch. I’ve been playing The Division, Fallout, and replaying Final Fantasy X in HD with my wife at the moment, too.
While the Note 5 and S6 edge+ are far from the first Samsung phones with reported issues killing background tasks with unusual aggressiveness, they are the first ones with four freaking gigabytes of RAM to do so. We've long assumed that Samsung's background task issues on certain handsets are related to a lack of RAM headroom due to TouchWiz, and yet, the Note 5 and S6 edge+ may exhibit the most aggravating task killing of any Samsung devices we've yet seen. Let's cut to the video for a complete explanation. (I realize it's long, but I'd recommend watching all the way through to see what's going on here.)
The issue was readily reproducible on both our S6 edge+ and Note 5 review units, and we aren't the first people to point this out.
Ready for yet another Samsung-exclusive app to dot the screen of the latest Galaxy device? Ready or not, it looks like Samsung's supply of custom software isn't running out any time soon. SamMobile got their hands on a leaked APK for "Samsung Life Times," a new app that will presumably debut with a future smartphone.
The app is a sort of life logger, collecting data from various apps and presenting them in a personal digital history. Most of the relevant Galaxy-centric apps can be incorporated, including Samsung's camera, email, memo, SMS, phone, music, and health apps, and connections can be made to social accounts at Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and the like.
Samsung devices are selling like gangbusters, and while this could be taken as a sign that many people are fine with TouchWiz as it is, that hasn't stopped a flood of critics (including us, on occasion) from lambasting the company's sense of design. Either the icons are too childish, the interface is overly cluttered, or it just feels bloated. The interface hasn't had a makeover in quite some time, but the latest image shared by @evleaks suggests that things may be about to change.
For comparison, here's how TouchWiz currently looks on the Galaxy S4.
Aside from the obvious change of font, the leaked image shows a completely new look for the default apps and a set of tiles or widgets that are somewhat reminiscent of HTC's BlinkFeed.
The Galaxy S4 is a beast of a phone, and very likely to be the best-selling Android device in the world this year. It's also pretty bloated when it comes to software: on a brand new, unsullied phone, more than 6GB of internal storage is taken up by Samsung's TouchWiz version of Android. Most markets don't yet have access to a 32GB or 64GB model, and the base 16GB version has less than 10GB of user-accessible storage available. After a less than flattering feature on the BBC consumer protection show WatchDog, Samsung gave the following statement to CNET UK:
"We appreciate this issue being raised and we will improve our communications.
Does the fact that your smartphone or tablet's orientation control conform to its orientation rather than yours constantly enrage you? Well, you could go buy a late-model Samsung device for its Smart Rotate feature, which uses the front-facing camera to see which way your face is pointing and adjusts the screen accordingly. Or you could download GMD Smart Rotate, which does the exact same thing.
GMD replaces the accelerometer function with facial recognition, meaning that if you hold your phone in portrait mode even when you yourself are horizontal, it will know not to rotate the screen. I can think of exactly one amazingly good use-case scenario: when you're lying on your side and want to read or watch something, and don't have five precious seconds to toggle the auto-rotate function in stock Android.
Did you think that the Galaxy S III was the only one getting all of Samsung's Jelly Bean attention? Not so! As it turns out, the company is also working on Android 4.1 for older phones, including but not limited to the...*deep breath*...Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch. A build has leaked out over on XDA of 4.1.1 in all its TouchWiz-ified glory that's ready for the flashing looking at, if you're feeling adventurous bored.
Of course, keep in mind that this is an early build of unreleased software, so make your backups and be prepared for some problems here and there.
Nothing quite stirs me up like people heaping praise on Samsung for "innovating" with TouchWiz’s software features. And every time I try to dismantle this notion, I get called a Luddite. I’m not forward-thinking. I don’t appreciate new technology that’s in its infancy. I’m not curious.
Which is interesting, considering how fascinated I am by it, and how generally up to date I like to keep with technology at large. I make no qualms of the fact that I am a cautious adopter of cutting-edge gadgets, though. I don’t look at a new phone or feature on one and suddenly become enamored with the possibilities it portends gazing 10 years into the future.