The new TouchWiz is impressive, but what does it mean?

Samsung’s changing TouchWiz to look like Tizen such that when they finally make the switch, the average consumer wouldn’t even notice.

When the Galaxy S5 was announced at MWC in February, several manufacturers took a jab at it. The heart rate monitor seemed redundant; the back of the device was often compared to a band aid; and TouchWiz didn’t get the major overhaul that it was leaked to have. We here at Twenty First Tech were a little disappointed too – until we got our hands on it at the launch event last week that is.

We never really had a fondness for Samsung. Timothy has a Galaxy S4 and detests it as, despite rocking a Snapdragon 600 processor, it lags extremely badly due to Samsung’s TouchWiz skin. Samsung is known for lag. Which is why we were decently impressed when the S5 minimised it fairly well (though it rears its head on occasion).

While during the launch event, Samsung was boasting about the S5’s fingerprint sensor, heart rate monitor, extreme battery saving mode, and selective focus. But we weren’t particularly impressed by any of these (the selective focus was pretty cool though). What we were truly impressed with was the new TouchWiz.

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It’s surprisingly smooth and clean. Icons look better, the app drawer is less cluttered and offers a KitKat-ish experience, and they even have a magazine on the home screen similar to HTC’s Blinkfeed. Let’s not forget that they finally replaced the menu button with the task switcher button, which is much more functional, and looks much better than the previous iteration as well. Even the drop down notification centre has been overhauled. And we must say it looks pretty neat.

Samsung’s TouchWiz UI is now one of our favorite Android skins, behind Vanilla Android, Xperia UI and perhaps HTC Sense (though I probably prefer TouchWiz to sense now).

So kudos to Samsung for overhauling TouchWiz. But with everything good, there’s a catch.

Our Android editor Shikhar wasn’t there at the launch event that day, but he did go for the closed door hands on session the week before. And when he took one look at the UI, he exclaimed, “It’s Tizen!”

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For the less well-informed among you, Tizen is an operating system by Samsung and Intel that has been in the works for some time now. It joins the likes of Sailfish OS, Firefox OS and Ubuntu Touch in the next generation of smartphone OSes. Right now the main OSes are Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and (the troubled) BlackBerry’s BlackBerry 10. Well Samsung is hoping to enter the software industry with its own Tizen OS, possibly abandoning Android in the process.

It’s already started. While Google has recently announced Android Wear, the operating system of choice for smartwatches and other wearables, Samsung’s decided to equip their new Galaxy Gear series with Tizen instead.GEAR2_001_Set1 (1)

Leaked images of a mysterious Samsung phone running Tizen give us an idea of what the OS will look like. The most noticeable of which is its prominent circular icons. Icons that the new TouchWiz proudly displays. It makes us afraid that the transformation is already taking place, not just on Samsung’s wearables but also in their phones.

Samsung’s changing TouchWiz to look like Tizen such that when they finally make the switch, the average consumer wouldn’t even notice.

We know we may sound over-dramatic about the whole “Samsung’s taking over the world with Tizen!” thing, and it isn’t exactly a bad thing. It’s just that the ignorant masses don’t expect it to happen; they don’t expect Samsung to turn into an Apple. But we know that it’s going to happen. And it’s going to happen soon.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will be launching on 12 April in Singapore, but who knows if we might see a Tizen variant down the road that looks and functions the same way?

Who knows what will happen when Samsung officially unveils Tizen to the world? Will people stay true to their loyalty to Android? Or will they not even notice the difference?

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