back to article A pretty and helpful user interface? Nahhh. Is that really you, Samsung?

Samsung isn't the first name most people would associate with slick user interfaces – but its 2018 Android P overhaul could make rivals Apple and Google look shabby. Though Oreo brought few changes to Samsung's TouchWiz UI used on millions of phones, this year should see significant tweaks. Samsung uses an obscure, Korean- …

Mushroom

Your move...

...Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Your move...

Coverflow patent, your move.

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Form over function

Personally, I find the stock Android interfaces pretty well done, outside of aesthetics I don't see the need for another layer..

On top of that it usually slows down the firmware update refresh because the Samsung UX has to be re-done/re-validated by Samsung...

I gave up on Samsung because of bloat, looks like they are continuing down the same path....

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Re: Form over function

To be honest, I'd prefer a volume control that has an option other than "mute" (0) and "can be heard by the neighbours" (1). :-)

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Re: Form over function

No, sorry. Android updates are (or rather, have been) slow because of the process: Google creates new Android version, sends it to silicon vendors for them to release a binary driver blob if they can be bothered, they send that to the phone vendor, test, repeat, phone vendor combines binary blobs with new Android and their skins, tests, if applicable sends to regulators and network operators, test, maybe repeat.

Of that, the vendors skin, which is often not much more than an app, is not the stage that takes the time.

Since we're talking about Android P here, the first phones to get it will be those that *shipped* with Oreo (here, Galaxy S9) and thus are built atop the modular nature of Project Treble - which means new versions of Android aren't dependant on silicon vendors creating new blobs.

Judging by the past, the S8 which shipped with Nougat (no Treble) will likely get Android P beginning of next year.

I've been suspect of TouchWiz in the past (so have had more stock Android phones from Sony and Nexus) but my S8 is actually fine (once I'd flipped the navigation soft keys, t and urned off Bixby and Edge Actions.

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Re: Form over function

Project Treble has hugely streamlined updates. I generally get the monthly update releases within weeks on my Sony Xperia. Samsung is notable that it hasn't gone Treble yet. That's why it was left off Google's enterprise certified (or some similar PR term) OEM list.

Aside: Is it just me or does the home page screen shot look nearly identical to Symbian Belle? Down to the slightly lozenged application icons.

http://thepockettech.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/symbian-belle.jpg

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Re: Form over function

Numerous websites report the Galaxy S9 has Project Treble - as Google mandate that all phones that ship with Oreo must do. The S8 which shipped with Nougat does not support Project Treble and may never do.

Not only does Project Treble allow for swifter updates (something Google wants), it also makes life easier for the custom ROM crowd as Android builds don't have to be so fine tuned for specific handsets.

Google worked with Samsung to draft the Enterprise Certified guidelines, but Samsung declined to be a launch partner. I don't know why, it may be because Samsung has it own enterprise administration tools it wishes to promote (Knox).

https://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-galaxy-s9-plus-project-treble-841067/

https://www.androidpolice.com/2017/11/25/googles-project-treble-start-custom-rom-revolution/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-launches-enterprise-android-device-recommendation-program-omits-samsung/

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Re: Form over function

That is the main reason the only Samsung phone I ever owned was the Galaxy Nexus was because as a general rule I am only going to buy a phone from the company responsible for the OS itself. I am sure the Android ecosystem has gotten much better about updates but if putting out big dosh I want one company responsible for everything.

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Re: Form over function

My Galaxy S7 updated to Android 8.0.0 the other day, along with "Samsung Experience 9" which seems to be what they are calling Touchwiz these days.

Frankly I really like it, the new lock screen looks great and has some useful options now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Form over function

The only way to solve this is for Google to make pure stock Android mandatory, and make the manufacturer-specific skins 'modular' and separate from the rest of the OS.

Therefore, an example of an ideal situation would be you buying a Samsung phone but easily switching over to a LG, HTC or Sony 'skin theme pack' if you choose to, without needing to hack or root or flash or void your warranty. The cosmetic elements in the OS are separated from the functional elements.

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Re: Form over function

My S7 Edge got it a few weeks ago.

Although I haven't used the stock Samsung launcher for a long time, one of the things I do like is the extra information you get for meeting alerts if the phone is locked.

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Anonymous Coward

routine

sell the routine data of "anonymized" Mr Smith' routines to the "carefully chosen business partners" (see our T&T)

pass the routine data of Citizne Smith to the gov agencies (as enshrined in the law, no doubt)

lose the routine data of Mr Smith to hackers united... FAKE NEWS, FAKE NEWS!!! We offer extremely robust and world-leading security systems to protect our data (says the ex-exec of equifucks)

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Re: Equifucks

Have an upvote.

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More stuff

I'd try, decide I didn't want, then also find I can't uninstall it or even disable it.

By all means include it, but please let me delete/disable/hide what I don't want to use.

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I agree with the sentiment but if I don't want to use a particular piece of software, I don't want to just hide or disable it, it want to be able to delete it. Anything less is not acceptable.

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Re: More stuff

You and I don't get the choice. We are proletarians who must be protected from our rash actions.

What?! Imagine disabling a stock app. Infidelity!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: More stuff

If you're annoyed by preinstalled bundled crapware from either the manufacturer or telco, you should have got an iPhone.

Many of those apps can't be uninstalled, and they're just taking up precious storage space. All Android phone vendors are guilty of this, some more than others.

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Trollface

Re: More stuff

By default I can't find a way to uninstall Apple's bloatware.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: More stuff

You can do now they allow you remove the cruft like the stocks app etc

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Re: More stuff

"We are proletarians who must be protected from our rash actions."

Which is the exact reason why I won't be buying any more smartphones. They're too locked down and too hard to secure from all the apps and vendors who want so badly to spy on us all (including Google).

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Re: More stuff

"If you're annoyed by preinstalled bundled crapware from either the manufacturer or telco, you should have got an iPhone"

But that just trades the bundled crapware annoyance for the walled garden annoyance. I don't see the win there.

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Re: More stuff

@JohnFen

They're too locked down and too hard to secure from all the apps and vendors who want so badly to spy on us all (including Google).

It is possible to buy a smartphone that has an unlockable bootloader and good LineageOS support (if your current phone doesn't have that), flash it without GApps (Google Play Services and Google Play Store), then audit its every outgoing network connection using Wireshark or some man-in-the-middle attack. I think that'll give you more peace of heart, because it gave me that.

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Re: More stuff

I'm well aware -- that's the exact setup for my current phone. But that doesn't address the problem of apps that spy (which appears to be the majority of them).

I run an on-phone firewall to try to protect myself against that, but even that is becoming inadequate, and it's requiring greater and greater effort and vigilance to stay protected. Like with Win 10, it's reached the level of difficulty where, for me, it exceeds the benefit I get from using that platform at all.

Instead, I'll be carrying around a pocket computer that runs straight-up Linux. None of this Android nonsense for me anymore.

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Anonymous Coward

No!

I've only just got used to the current Samsung changes to their interfaces,

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Re: No!

I've only just got used to the current Samsung changes to their interfaces,

This is like getting used to the direction the wind blows or getting used to a random ID number on a bus ticket.

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I loved Smart Actions on my old Razr R

It was great, easy to use and just the right balance of simplicity and power. I'd love it now to be honest.

Regarding disabling, can you not do that on Android? I got 'Truecaller' bundled with my handset and although I couldn't remove I had no trouble disabling it. Speaking of which, somewhat surprisingly I received an update for my Wiley Fox Swift 2 this morning up to 8.1.0. No obvious changes, but I guess someone somewhere is still working on these thought-to-be-deceased handsets

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Re: I loved Smart Actions on my old Razr R

I can show you any number of Android phones with pre-loaded apps that not only get force-installed every time you go to Google Play, but that you can't remove (not even an option), can't disable (not possible), can't "uninstall" (the option is there, but all it does is install the STOCK version of the app, it doesn't actually uninstall at all). And Force Stop only stops it running "now", and it's free to restart itself at any time.

Try and uninstall something like the Android WebView or some internal service. Then you'll see that it's possible to have apps like that. And carriers, and manufacturers (like Samsung in particular), preload their apps in this way, and there's obviously co-operation with Google to force-install their core apps on those models. No factory reset, restore, removal, uninstall, disable or anything else will rid you of them.

The only way to get rid of them is to totally wipe the OS with something like LineageOS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I loved Smart Actions on my old Razr R

A company called STK did a licensing agreement with the dead Wiley a Fox, so STK has decided to honour all warranties and offer support as well as rollout 8.1 for supported devices. New WF models are due this year I believe.

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Re: I loved Smart Actions on my old Razr R

Great stuff, I saw the deal reported on here but haven't seen or heard of anything since.

Fingers crossed!

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"dead zones" on the edge of the screen to prevent accidental taps and brushes.

Does kinda make you wonder what the point of 'all glass' edge-to-edge displays really is, doesn't it?

I mean, there you are, on some forum and you go to click on the edit button of your reply that's been stretched to the edge of the screen only to find that it's below an unresponsive region of the interface and your shamefully inappropriate response cannot be removed before it's too late and the entire world thinks you're an asshole for making fun of someone's misfortune.

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Similar techniques have been used on iPads and other devices for years. The software doesn't simply ignore touch input on a margin of pixels around the screen but rather uses algorithms to distinguish between what is probably a deliberate prod or swipe and what is probably an accidental brush or tap.

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>The software doesn't simply ignore touch input on a margin of pixels around the screen

>but rather uses algorithms to distinguish between what is probably...

The software doesn't simply ignore touch input on a margin of pixels around the screen but rather uses *different* algorithms to distinguish between what is probably...

FTFY

This is a forum where an appreciation of the meaning of 'algorithm' ought to be a given!

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"Does kinda make you wonder what the point of 'all glass' edge-to-edge displays really is, doesn't it?"

Nah, I don't wonder. Edge-to-edge displays are a pathetic attempt by smartphone manufacturers to try to entice people to replace the phones they already have with new ones. The problem is that they increase cost, don't actually improve much of anything, and in many ways make the phone more difficult or annoying to actually use.

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Heh.

I was, as I'm sure you're aware, being ironic/sarcastic but, okay, I'll bite.

I think your observation is just true of the way the tech is marketed to us and when it isn't the 'all new' display tha's being pimped to us, it's some other bit of fluff - 'stickers' anyone?

I have no objection to the idea of the all-glass display and, in fact, am quite intrigued by a new device I read about recently that has camera, speaker and finger-print reader located under the display and, therefore, no need for the ghastly 'notch' we're seeing everywhere that means the notification icons are placed left/right of it and there is, therefore, less room for them than on a device without a notch and a bezel instead - a retrograde and, quite frankly ugly, 'solution' if ever there was one.

But, really, until someone comes up with a solution that is more acceptable than Google's failed Glass, so that we don't need a device in our hand but can simply look at the 'projected' display and interact with voice and/or gestures, it's all an exercise in inadequacy anyway, so I'm not going to get overly upset by all-glass devices - at least they're more visually appealing than bezels.

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algorithm

"This is a forum where an appreciation of the meaning of 'algorithm' ought to be a given!"

Normally the word "algorithm" is used to imply some at least mildly nontrivial computation is going on.

Ignoring N pixels is not what I would call an algorithm.

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"I have no objection to the idea of the all-glass display"

I don't really object to them as such, either, although I don't see that they give any real benefit. What I object to is that manufacturers are removing or limiting useful features because they don't get along well with this bezel-less business. So it's exchanging useful things for something that isn't terribly useful.

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Re: exchanging useful things for something that isn't terribly useful

I do wish you hadn't said that.

I was feeling all excited by the prospect of an 'all glass', bezelless, notchless fascia with camera, speaker and fingerprint sensor beneath it and then you had to go and spoil my mood by reminding me of the phenomenon.

Speaking of solutions looking for problems I don't have: f**king Blockchain!

I wish I hadn't said that now either; all the fanbois will jump on it and we'll never hear the last of it - quick ... how do I delete this thing!?

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Progress backwards ...

Pity when using all recent Samsung phones in landscape mode they forget and give you some pages portrait. Something of a safety issue when using the phones in a car hands free and you can't get back to sat nav ... can't actually DIAL from the phones without taking it out and turning around!

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MJI
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I hate Samsung phones

Worst phone ever. Got one for work. UI is shit, full of bloatware. Cannot disable crap I do not want (pay system) cannot uninstall crap I do not want (Faceache).

I want my N8 back!

So who does a nice good looking mobile phone running on Android which is not full of crap. Would like decent camera on opposite side to screen, this one keeps changing to look at me, YUK!

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Re: I hate Samsung phones

That's weird - there's no Facebook on my S8... I must have deleted it. Maybe you got your phone through a network operator.

The camera UI isn't the best, and no, I don't know why it sometimes starts up using the front facing camera (double tap of power key).

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cd

Re: I hate Samsung phones

My unlocked Moto G5plus came with very little extra stuff, lots of updates. Not the greatest camera but serviceable.

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Anonymous Coward

JungleJim

Nokia's Situations app lives on in the "Situations" app in the Play store, and it's very useful too.

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I would never buy a Samsung phone precisely because of all this bloat they install over Android; native Android works fine now and doesn't need any of that.

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My S8 works fine, my first Samsung since a feature phone in 2008 . Feel free to trawl my old posts to see my previous Androids have been an Xperia P, Xperia Z3 Compact (both close to stock Android) some cheap but surprisingly cheerful Huawei (couldn't budge their weird launcher, other weird changes to Android), a Nexus 5 (stock, obviously). No complaints about Samsung's skinning of Android in the S8 after one switches the soft Navigation keys to Android standard and turns a couple of things off.

Still competition is good, so if you buy Sony, LG or Motorola, you'd being doing me a favour.

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Let's not forget...

.. . That sometimes vendor's additions (either the concept or the actual code) to Android are incorporated into AOSP.

I'm thinking of:

-Power saving modes (Sony, concept)

-LDAC (Sony, code)

-24bit audio support (LG, Code)

If Samsung create something useful that isn't patented, it could well be incorporated into Android.

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Re: Let's not forget...

LineageOS already has triggers that you can set to turn on different profiles. Eg, when my phone connects to the wireless at work, it switches to the 'Work' profile which silences the ringer. I'm not sure if that's a default Android thing, or something Lineage have developed (often good ideas from the open source ROMs get integrated back into vanilla Android, just look at the quick settings dropdown)

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Vanilla android works perfectly well

If a handset maker wants to tweak the experience then do it lightly and deftly. When the likes of Samsung, HTC, Huawei et al goes in and guts it, the experience is usually cluttered with proprietary extensions and gratuitous change which is often detrimental.

Aside from that, all this modification reduces the chances of firmware updates because it's too much effort to merge it to a new version of Android or fix bugs for that matter.

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Killer feature maybe

I really like the look of the programmable actions but I doubt I will get the update / S7.

Flipping several settings / Bluetooth on, open maps, turn off Wi-Fi, turn on GPS, turn on selective call blocking every time I get in the car is a pain. Maybe if I could get it to detect the car charger socket when plugged in it could do all of this itself. Probably wishful thinking but still looks like progress.

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Re: Killer feature maybe

I haven't used it myself, but people used to swear by an app called Tasker. I'm not sure if it required root to run, or only needed root for some features.

I'm not sure that you can have your phone recognise a car charger over a wall charger, other than your Samsung-supplied adaptive wall charger will supply more power than a 2.1 amp 5v car charger.

You might consider an NFC tag to alert your phone to where it is. Again, I've not tried this but forums might give you an idea of how well it works.

An alternative is to use an older or second hand phone as a dedicated car unit. As a bonus it could be a model with a larger (not necessarily that high resolution display) and its storage used for music instead of camera photos. However, you'd still be turning on the WiFi hotspot on your primary phone unless you stretch to a second SIM

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Re: Killer feature maybe

Flipping several settings / Bluetooth on, open maps, turn off Wi-Fi, turn on GPS, turn on selective call blocking every time I get in the car is a pain.

Nokia's old "dumb" phones of 15+ years ago did not have all the goodies that a modern Samsung has, but they had this amazing thing called (IIRC) "profiles". You could change multiple settings on your phone by switching between custom "profiles", which was one operation. I used to have a "meeting" profile (the phone was silent/on vibration, among other things), "car" profile ( screen lock off, voice operation, etc.), and so on. Seems to be a lost art now, just like the integrated calendar and contact list that I miss so much (set a meeting with someone in your contact list by actually accessing the contact list from the calendar, when the reminder beeps and you are still stuck in traffic there is a friendly green button that dials the right number so you can apologize for being late without fiddling with the contact list while driving - worked amazingly well in the previous millennium...)

I would love to see profiles. It would make my phone so much "smarter". The next best thing would be to react to being connected to my car's Bluetooth (as opposed to any other Bluetooth) to reconfigure just about everyhting.

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