When it comes to popular manufacturers in the smartphone industry, it’s impossible to argue that Samsung isn’t one of the most popular ones currently on the market. The Samsung Galaxy S series seems to have taken the market by storm, especially after the release of the Samsung Galaxy S III back in 2012 (a device that had at one point attained the title of being the world’s best-selling smartphone). After that milestone was reached, Samsung smartphones surged with even more popularity. However, like any popular product, it didn’t come without its discrepancies and concerns from potential customers.
Samsung is largely invested in making Android devices, and one thing about Android that makes the platform stand out from the other mobile platforms is that manufacturers have the ability to change Android around and make it look and act different while still maintaining an Android core. Samsung’s “version” of Android is called TouchWiz. If you look at a Samsung device compared to something from HTC, LG, Motorola, or Sony, you’ll notice that each differs from each other not only in hardware, but also in software and features.
While these differing “versions” are often viewed as a good thing, the freedom to change and add features to Android can also be a not-so-great thing. With Samsung’s TouchWiz, one of the biggest complaints that surface about the custom user interface is the sheer amount of preloaded Samsung-made applications. Applications that end up taking a lot of space and cannot be removed without root access. And while root access can generally be obtained without issue, it doesn't without time and research involved beforehand. This isn’t something that everybody wants to necessarily deal with in a smartphone.
Samsung focuses heavily on futuristic features and, as previously mentioned, their own set of applications that they hope the user will find useful. While I don’t necessarily blame Samsung for wanting to provide as many services as possible for their users (isn’t that what smartphones are for?) I have to admit that when a person realizes they don’t use a certain application, it’s just wasted space. Space you can’t use, but should be able to use for whatever you want. It’s disappointing when you realize just how much space Samsung’s applications and features take up, yet you don't ever use them.
I’m looking at my Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 right now. Currently, the tablet is not rooted and I haven’t really touched it except for the addition of a couple of applications, as I mostly use it for sketching or Netflix. Yet, here are some of the applications that I currently have preloaded onto the tablet:
These are all applications that are preloaded onto my tablet and cannot be removed. They are not necessary for the tablet to function as it should. They can be “turned off”, but they can’t be removed without root access. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but it is annoying, and it’s known to be a deal-breaker for a lot of other people. It is hard to justify why we need all of these applications on here if we’re never going to use them.
But it seems like that all might change with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S6, where it seems the South Korean manufacturer wants to change TouchWiz and reduce bloatware to be somewhere around the Google Nexus 6 range. Nexus devices, as you may already know, runs on "stock" Android, which means that every application pre-loaded on the phone are all applications and services that Google intended for the device to have. That’s a lot of reduction, and I think that it’s probably time that Samsung gets rid of a lot of their primarily useless features in favor of giving the user more storage space and a faster UI.
I guess that isn’t to say that there aren’t some people out there that really dig Samsung’s services, but I feel like there are some applications on that list that anybody rarely cares about. WatchON? ChatON? And the Samsung Cares Video that I’ve never even bothered to open until today - I’ll place a fairly hefty bet that nobody else has opened that video on purpose more than once, twice at most. If Samsung really cared, they’d let me get rid of this application if I wanted to.
But I digress. In the very least, I hope that Samsung at least allows the removal of these applications if the user wishes. Alternatively, they could offer these services for download in the GALAXY App store, which is another feature that I’ve never cared to explore. At least at that point I feel like users could browse features or applications that they want to have on their phone and really give Samsung’s alternative app store a purpose. I might have actually looked at it if I didn’t already have a plethora of unwanted applications and features preloaded for me.
Samsung’s done a decent job cleaning up TouchWiz over the years, but there’s still a lot of issues (lag, storage consumption) that I feel could be improved upon even more. By cleaning up the amount of preloaded software, I think Samsung could drastically improve this issue, so I’m hoping that this report ends up being true in one form or another.
What are your thoughts, readers? Do you think that TouchWiz needs to go the “less is more” route in order to improve, or do you like TouchWiz and all of its features and preloaded software just as it is? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!