Users won’t be able to disable Magazine UX, the Samsung UI that “dismayed” Google

February 5, 2014
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Samsung Galaxy TabPro 8.4 -2 hands on

Magazine UX will be a fixture of the user experience on the new TabPRO and NotePRO tablets, as users won’t be able to disable it.

Samsung announced yesterday that the NotePRO 12.2, TabPRO 8.4, and TabPRO 10.1 will start shipping in the United States on February 13, with the TabPRO 12.2 to follow sometime in March. One of the core software features of these new devices is Magazine UX, a tile-based homescreen replacement that serves info such as weather, news, and social updates in widgets that users can configure and resize. Some compare Magazine UX with Windows Phone’s UI, but the truth is tiles are a growing trend in UI design, making appearances in HTC’s BlinkFeed, the feed aggregator Flipboard, and other apps.

A Samsung spokesman told Computerworld that users won’t be able to completely disable Magazine UX on their NotePRO or TabPRO:

Users do not have the option to 'turn off' Magazine UX. It is built into the Pro series tablets. Users can add or delete Magazine UX and standard Android screens as they wish, but at least one Magazine UX screen must be present at all times. The 'classic' home screen is standard, with the Magazine UX accompanying it. And of course, users can change this and set Magazine UX as the default.

The reason this is significant is the report from last week that suggested Google executives were “dismayed” by Magazine UX when the interface debuted at CES. According to Re/code, Google was not happy about Magazine UX straying from the interface of stock Android, and thus contributing to fragmentation and confusion within the Android ecosystem. Google reportedly managed to convince Samsung to “consider dumping or altering the Magazine UX interface”. In the greater context, including the sale of Motorola to Lenovo and a 10-year cross-licensing patent deal between Samsung and Google, many have seen the agreement as part of a broad alliance between the two technology giants.

Now Samsung probably couldn’t drop Magazine UX even if it wanted to, so soon after its debut. The UI could even make it to some smartphones – leaked screenshots of a new UI that Samsung is allegedly exploring show a Magazine icon that could be a shortcut to Magazine UX. From the look of the Galaxy S5 apps that leaked so far, Samsung is giving TouchWiz a revamp, with a flatter, more modern look. It remains to be seen if the flagship smartphone will run Magazine UX; if Samsung was planning to use it before the Google deal, it will probably go ahead with it. The effects of the agreement with Google will probably take months to show up in products.

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