Tuesday 20 November 2012

Editorial: Why I don't want a mobile phone without Samsung's Touchwiz!


There's not normally a company who can lock me down when it comes to my technology. Let me give you a brief overview of my current set of devices so that you can see my distinct lack of brand loyalty:

   This is something which runs through my phone history too (You can see the full history written during my time at Coolsmartphone here); there's only one brand which can keep me relatively locked down and that's Samsung.

   Why Samsung? I hear you ask, well there's one very good reason for that and that's Touchwiz. Yes you did read that correctly, the only thing which stops me from buying another manufacturers phone is Samsung's Touchwiz. I'm fully aware people despise this piece of software; it slows down updates, it makes the annoying 'blub' sound and it brings with it a host of apps with silly 'S-something' names, but it's the best thing about my Samsung Galaxy S3.

"It slows down updates, it makes the annoying 'blub' sound and it brings with it a host of apps with silly 'S-something' names, but it's the best thing about my Samsung Galaxy S3."

   Let me explain. Touchwiz does things not everyone else's phones do and these next three things may seem menial and rather unspectacular, but for me and how I use my phone, they make my day so much easier.

Swipe to Call or Message:

   This is perhaps the best thing other manufacturers have missed from their Android skins. It's unbelievably simply and it works a treat.

   The premise is that you head over to your contacts list you locate the person you wish to contact and then if you would like to call them you pull across their name from left to right and if you would like to send them a text message you pull from right to left. It's flawless and it definitely builds on Google's 'swipe to dismiss' idea very well. Although, credit has to go to Samsung for implementing it as far back as the original Galaxy S.

   This is without a shadow of a doubt something which only saves a couple of clicks, but it is a great addition and was something which I sorely missed when I trialled Windows Phone.

Sensor controls:
Secondly, there's my sensor controls. With these there's a bit of a learning curve and I'm not sure I know all of the 'moves' or that I ever will know them all, but they again help to make things simpler and quicker.

"Direct Call: It's unbelievably simple!"

   My favourite and most used is undoubtedly the 'Direct call' or more accurately the 'Phone to ear' move. Essentially what happens is you get a message from your friend, perhaps they want to meet at the pub in half an hour, but you can't make it for an hour and you want to find out who else is going or sometimes you just want a little chat with them! Well fear not, you've already opened the message to read it, so you put the phone to your ear and like magic it rings.

   It's unbelievably simple, but noone else has thought to do it before, which makes it totally brilliant. I would say I use this five or more times a day! It make it a lot easier, instead of backing out to your messages and swiping left or right as described in the 'swipe to call or message' section. Or if you use a normal Android phone you'd have to return to the main menu and head into the contacts app to place the same call.

   Samsung also added an easier way for you to take screen shots and being in the tech world it's a lot easier to swipe across you screen with a full hand then it is to press a combination of two or three buttons. But, this is something you have to already use to appreciate the change here.

   There's a list of other little things here too; you've got a choice to move your palm to the front of the phone or you can flip the phone over to mute a call (the latter was unashamedly borrowed from HTC's Sense). Or you can double tap the top of your screen to whip back to the top of a long webpage. Or you can shake your phone to rescan for a Wifi or Bluetooth connection instead of clicking away on the screen until it works! There's a few other things too, but these are the only one's I've ever discovered!

Voice commands:

   Google had a good set of Voice commands running on Android a while before Siri turned up with a genuinely compelling organisation and voice command suite, but this isn't quite on the same level as Siri or Google now, instead it's more simple and surprisingly useful.

   The one voice command I've found myself using more than I thought I would. This time it's making the phones cameras take pictures without pressing the on screen button! I think we've all been there; we've got a group photo coming up, maybe we're using the front-facing camera but reaching for that shoot button blurs the picture as you reach for it. The same could perhaps happen as you move to take a shot with the rear camera, sometimes that small movement blurs the picture. So Samsung kindly lets you say 'shoot' to take the picture. It works flawlessly about 90% of the time and I don't mind saying it twice to get it to work if it means I get that perfect picture! There's a couple of things you can say; "picture", "photo", "cheese" and "shoot" will all work!

The Wrap-up:

   Perhaps manufacturers get a hard time from people in the tech industry; sometimes they deserve it for releasing shoddy software and never fixing it. Sometimes they deserve it for back tracking on their promises and sometimes they hide behind a their Android overlays and use them as the excuse for not updating to latest version of Android. But, in this case I appreciate Samsung's offering and although I don't use the home screen, it's the other little touches which make Touchwiz. I definitely wouldn't willingly choose another phone over the Galaxy S3 at this moment in time.


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