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TouchWiz is actually pretty nice
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-04-19 20:54:24

I challenge anyone to receive a notification on Samsung s Galaxy S8 and not be charmed by the elegant blue pulse of light that traces the contours of the phone's gorgeous screen. This sort of subtlety, this sort of organic, emotive, instant appeal is not something I ever expected Samsung would be capable of. But the company once judged to have cynically copied Apple's iPhone design has exceeded all expectations this year: the 2017 version of Samsung's TouchWiz brings its software design right up to the high standard of its hardware.

I have always hated TouchWiz. It was ugly, overbearing, complex, and annoying.

Keyword here is was. As per my philosophy to never rot stuck in a single brand or platform, I replaced my Nexus 6P with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge a few weeks ago. I was assuming I'd have to root it and install a custom ROM on it within days, so I had the proper files and reading material ready to go the day the phone arrived.

But as I was using the phone for a few days, it dawned on my that TouchWiz on the S7 Edge was... Not that bad. I buy off-contract, so I didn't get any carrier crapware (as far as I know, Dutch carriers don't really do crapware to begin with), and even Samsung's own stuff was remarkably sparse, and you could hide most of Samsung's stuff anyway. I was pleasantly surprised.

I was even more pleasantly surprised when it dawned on me that several parts of TouchWiz were superior to Google's stock Android versions. The stock Android alarm/clock application is a UI disaster, but the TouchWiz version is clean, simple, and much easier to use. TouchWiz' contacts application, too, sports a cleaner look and I find it easier to use than the stock version. Most of all, though, Samsung's settings application is so much better than the stock Android one in terms of looks, organisation, search capabilities, and so on, that I'm surprised Google hasn't copied it outright.

Within just a few days, I thought to myself "...okay right so that's why Samsung dominates Android and has 80% smartphone market share in The Netherlands". Samsung has truly cleaned up TouchWiz, and I'm curious to see if I hit that thing everybody is talking about where Samsung phones get slower over time, something that didn't happen to my Nexus devices.

CGP Grey once said, in one of his videos:

The trick is to keep your identity separate from your opinions. They're objects in a box you carry with you, and should be easily replaceable if it turns out they're no good. If you think that the opinions in the box are "who you are", then you'll cling to them despite any evidence to the contrary.

Bottom line: if you always want to be right, you need to always be prepared to change your mind.

I try to apply this as much as possible, including here on OSNews. Any longterm reader of this site knows I haven't been kind to TouchWiz over the years. A few weeks with a modern Samsung phone has completely changed my mind.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-24
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Note 7 Grace UX
By leech on 2017-04-19 21:37:19
So I'm not sure how different the S7 Edge is from my Note 4, but the Note 7 'Grace UX' was absolutely divine, and I'm guessing that's what is also on the S8.

Every time I've tried stock Android (through AOSP, or other hacks) I've always been disappointed and missed some of the 'Before Stock Android' features.

Truly, Touchwiz sucks a lot less than it used to, either that or the hardware has caught up to the OS so we don't notice as much.

I'll go retro here in the comparison, it's like Standard TOS vs MiNT. On the one hand, you have a nice set of usability that is very minimal, versus a fully multitasking operating system. But while TOS will work in a system with 256kb, you should have at least 4mb of ram for MiNT.

Same could be said of Android vs Touchwiz.
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Pure Android and nice UIs
By Sodki on 2017-04-19 22:30:10
I've always thought that phone manufacturers were waging a losing battle in terms of software: why bother spending time and resources to build your own crappy UI? Just differentiate yourself by providing a pure Android experience, no one is doing it.

Not even Google.

I've owned several Nexus devices and I liked them overall. But it's not a pure Android experience, it's a Google Android experience, with it's own UI. I like that most of their applications are available on the Play Store, but not everything is. I can't use the dialler on my current phone, for example.

My current phone is a OnePlus 3T, my first non Nexus high-end Android phone. I also own a bunch of low end or old phones (Android, Firefox OS, Nokia N900, Palm Pre), so I'm no stranger to experimentation and custom experiences. And so far the OnePlus with Nougat is the one I like the most. It seems they've kept Android mostly the same as upstream, but just giving it minor UI tweaks that actually make sense. This means that updates will be easier as well, since there's less stuff to change.
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Re:
By kurkosdr on 2017-04-19 22:40:34
... aaand this is why the Samsungs, LGs, Sonys and HTCs insisted on their custom skins in the early years of Android, despite being universally reviled by tech bloggers and hated by the nerd populace. Those OEMs don't want to become chip packagers, competing with brands like Opus and Meizu (which sell for cheaper) on who can best package the same chips. Even the camera isn't a point of differentiation any more, since the Sony Exmor sensor can be bought.

Judging from Thom's words, Samsung's decision to keep iterating on TouchWiz helped them avoid becoming a plain chip packager, so it was smart business decision. Guess all those tech bloggers and nerds who were telling people how TouchWiz was an obvious waste of money for Samsung and were "advising" Samsung to stop development are not becoming CEO of Samsung anytime soon...

You see, there is computer science (nerd domain) and computer business (CEO domain).

Edited 2017-04-19 22:45 UTC
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RE: Re:
By leech on 2017-04-20 02:42:37
As far as Android phones go, I've always bought Samsung ones, so whenever going to plain ol' Android, I am confused on where all the features are. Pretty sure things like multi-window was in TouchWiz two or three releases ahead of where it was in standard android. That's why I always ended up going back to a trimmed touchwiz rom. (on a side note, I still am irritated that they call them ROMs. Since they are most certainly not read only memory blocks...PROMs would be more appropriate..)
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Identity and opinions
By skurk on 2017-04-20 06:53:04
"I try to apply this as much as possible, including here on OSNews."

Except every other article where you never miss an opportunity to sneak in some snarky comments about Trump or feminism.
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RE: Identity and opinions
By Dryhte on 2017-04-20 07:54:53
Then again, who wouldn't want to be snarky about Trump. Or feminism, for that matter.
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RE: Note 7 Grace UX
By Kochise on 2017-04-20 08:16:04
* 1024 though.

Well, not really, since Android 4.2, you'd better have at least 1GiB of RAM.
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Comment by Troels
By Troels on 2017-04-20 09:14:05
I totally agree, i too have the S7 Edge, and i use it with stock software. My previous phone was the S4 and i had all kinds of customizations on it, like Nova launcher, other icons, custom lock screen, and much more. The few features i wanted to keep was their camera app and their keyboard, and that was why i didn't reflash.

I still have replacement apps for some stuff, like Google Keep for notes and shopping lists, a custom calculator, etc, but finally all the basics just works without getting in the way.

I am still pretty sad with the latest android upgrade that made the notification drop down much worse with the bright blue on white icons that is impossible to see, and the notifications with tiny icons and tiny application names are annoying to read.

I was very very close to replacing the launcher though until i found the option to turn off the icon backgrounds, oh my that was fugly.
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That's funny
By torp on 2017-04-20 09:35:39
I had Samsung firmly in the 'they think they know how to write software but really they don't' bin. They've learned, you say?

Not that I would switch to Android, since I really hate Google's "we'll spam you with a thousand notifications you don't care about and can't even remove" attitude.

Say, have Samsung fixed their desktop software too? Last time I tried to run some updater from them it looked like it was done in flash, by the lowest bidder, in a location on a ship outside anyone's territorial waters so no laws or common sense apply.
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RE: That's funny
By Thom_Holwerda on 2017-04-20 09:41:15
> "we'll spam you with a thousand notifications you don't care about and can't even remove" attitude

What?
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