How TouchWiz Ruined ICS
Along with my much talked about Nokia N8, I also have a T-Mobile(USA) Samsung Galaxy SII. With the hardware in the T-Mobile version of the SII being much different than that of most of the SII population, I expected that the upgrade to Android 4.0.x (Ice Cream Sandwich) would take longer on this model than the rest of the world. I was right. The ICS upgrade was just recently released, and those that were keeping tabs on the upgrade progress jumped on it immedietly.
Even though the upgrade required a computer (Windows or OS X) with Samsug Keis desktop software installed, it was a rather smooth experience. The upgrade process did take awhile about 10 minutes in my case, but can take more depending on how fast you can download the upgrade file. After the update you will be prompted to unplug the phone as it reboots. This is where the ICS upgrade experience gets a little bumpy.
Once the phone has rebooted, you are greeted with what looks almost exactly like how the phone was when it was released. The only changes appear to be with some icons for apps and the status bar. Everything else looks exactly the same at first glance. Going a little deeper reveals a revamped multitask GUI, an overhauled Settings screen with new options, slightly reorganized button layout in the dailer, new GMail interface, and a few other items that come with Android 4.x series. Yet the changes seem a little tarnished every time you end up back at the homescreen or when you open the app launcher. This has it come off as more of a minor update rather than the huge change ICS was over Gingerbread.
This is not the fault of ICS, as it does come with a much improved interface, far more than what is seen here. The blame here lies with TouchWiz. Its root in previous versions of Android shine through, and puts a damper on the overall user experience.
To solve this issue for myself, I downloaded a launcher that was meant to customize ICS, and used it to almost eliminate all of TouchWiz. This however is not a perfect solution for everyone. This is one case where Samsung could take a page from its competitors and build a custom UI that builds on top of what is great about ICS instead of using ICS to help improve their own TouchWiz experience which is showing its age at this point.
To summarize here are a list of things that are hurting the experience at this point:
- Home Screen interface
- Application Tray
- Screen Capture button combination removed
This on top of numerous other reports from users are not helping this look like much of a worth while update. Many of these reports included, but are not limited to: decreased performance, degradation in battery life, application incompatibilities, OS lockup, call quality issues and more.
This is not one of the better phone firmware releases in recent history from any company.