Report: Samsung aiming to optimize TouchWiz to “Nexus 6 level”

by: Bogdan PetrovanJanuary 13, 2015

samsung galaxy note edge review aa (21 of 26)

Under pressure to improve its flagging smartphone business, Samsung needs the Galaxy S6 to be a hit. Expected to launch at MWC in early March, the Galaxy S6 will likely feature a metallic design, a first for the series, but major changes could be coming on the software side as well.

According to Business Korea, Samsung aims to par down and simplify the software features of the Galaxy S6, after customers and analysts have criticized the clunky TouchWiz for years.

Business Korea cites “industry sources” claiming Samsung is working to “optimize” TouchWiz for the release of Galaxy S6.

We are aiming to get rid of unnecessary functions and simplify our UI at the level of Google's Nexus 6” - source

“We are aiming to get rid of unnecessary functions and simplify our UI at the level of Google’s Nexus 6,” one source said, suggesting a drastic change is coming to user experience. Reportedly, the aim is to reduce the weight the OS puts on the system, so the Galaxy S6 feels and runs smoother.

This sort of software optimization could infuse some much needed nimbleness into TouchWiz, after years of gaining weight. There’s no denying that Samsung devices are among the most feature-rich on the market, but even with top hardware, the Samsung user experience is widely perceived as slower and clunkier than the competition.

In spite of the alleged insider’s statement about Nexus-level optimization, it’s hard to believe that Samsung would ever tone down TouchWiz to be so close to stock Android. Software was a big focus for the company in 2012-2014, and massive resources were invested in developing in-house apps and services.

Samsung is painfully aware that it needs to change something radically in order to invert its sliding market share

With that said, the company has already decided to cut down on its product range by up to a third, so a similarly dramatic shift in the software department cannot be ruled out.

Over the past month, Samsung has moved some of its mobile software engineers to other units, though we don’t really know the effects of the shuffle. We do know, however, that Samsung is closing down some of its services, like ChatOn and WatchOn.

Almost a year ago to the day, Re/code reported that Google successfully coaxed Samsung to scale down its software customization in what one source called “a huge change, a sea change.” We haven’t seen that massive change in 2014, but any such agreement would probably require many months of planning and product development. Is the new TouchWiz the result of that “sea change” agreement?

A word of caution – this isn’t the first time we’re hearing that Samsung is working on an extreme makeover for TouchWiz. There were rumors of a revamped design coming to the Galaxy S5, but the phone did not match those expectations.

All things considered, Samsung is clearly, painfully aware that it needs to change something radically in order to reverse its market share slide. A big software shakeup, coupled with the adoption of a metallic build, could make the Galaxy S6 the growth engine that Samsung needs right now.

  • Jugo

    Alright, this is interesting. I’m curious about Samsung’s definition of ‘simplify’.

    • Topias Olavi Salakka

      I just hope they fix the horrible optimization. Stock Jellybean was just crap on my Galaxy Ace 3, but CM12 just flies.

      • Jugo

        Then need to change a lot of things. Basics like the design of the icons, colour schemes, animations, to the button layout, over-saturated feature-set, ram management etc. I mean they’ll have to create a new UI from the scratch in order to get me interested.

        • ed

          To get me interested, they need to completely change their hardware design. They have the ugliest phones in my opinion. They also need to go the route that Motorola has gone with software. Close to stock android with a few useful additions.

          • MasterMuffin

            Going completely stock in looks won’t be good. Only “nerds” like us care about that, there wouldn’t be anything to distinct their phones fron other’s. “Hardware innovations” nah

        • Samy

          Do they even have the time to redesign TW from scratch cuz March is only a few weeks away!

  • McLaren F1P1

    When the base is bad both at software and hardware level, u can’t expect changes which will suddenly beautify it!

    • AbelPro

      Samsung hardware is always the best of the best. And Android is able to run smoothly (look at the Nexus 6), so if Samsung really wants it, the s6 will run smoothly. Stop shouting things that aren’t based om anything.

      • McLaren F1P1

        Not based on anything?? Like in the article, if they plan to ditch their gimmicks and software design, they’ll basically have to sack the whole software team as all their previous super big investments will become useless!
        I’ll be very happy if they manage to beautify TW though for the sake of the horrible Sammy fans!

        • Not1Not2Not3

          You’re a joke

          • McLaren F1P1

            As I always say, Samsung followers are worse than sheeps! The S4 which I was using has mediocre battery life even after buying another original battery and that ugly design just makes it even harder to forgive the issues! No thanks! Till Samsung doesn’t price their cheap making phones right I won’t switch again! Other makers favor quality over quantity! Even LG phones have better build quality though plastic than Samsung and their phones are not as overpriced as Samsung’s!

      • ed

        The problem that exists is that people have been fooled into believing that if a phone is not made of metal, it has bad build quality. I don’t like the design of Samsung phones (they are too boxy and in my opinion are ugly) but there hardware quality is always at or near the top of OEMs. HTC has been praised for their hardware quality since the HTC One because it looks nice from the outside. But when you open the phone up, it is full of tape and glue. This is the lazy way to build a phone. My point is that people are being fooled by outside appearances.

        • Reed

          My Galaxy s5 creeks and moans when I handle it without a case. The fingerprint scanner only works 65% of the time. The plastic ring around the phone is insanely ugly, and for some reason I can’t ever get it fully cleaned. The silver on the flap at the bottom is starting to wear off.

          I returned a Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 because the screen would cause me to click on things as I was scrolling, a very common issue with the tablet.

          Tell me more about build quality.

    • Grandpa

      Haters gona hate

  • Anonymousfella

    It does need to be optimised. Make all the of the extra stuff downloadable….those who want a simple smartphone experience shouldn’t have to lug around features they’re not gonna use.

    • systemupdate

      Exactly! That what I have been saying.
      The problem is Samsung keeps adding on top of the previous and the adding more and then …
      Everything would be much easier if they offered everything in Play Store and updated there! Then updating the OS would not take so long for them.

      • Anonymousfella

        They’ve spent millions on software R&D(some of it on TW). They can’t simply put Google Launcher on their flagship!

        • systemupdate

          I am not saying they should, I am just saying they should offer the bloat on Google Play like HTC. They also have the Sense UI but offer most of the software on Google Play and Update regularly! That would be much easier.
          Plus, TouchWiz looks so 2007ish.
          Even Apple who is in love with their own Fart changed things.
          It is time Sami.

          • Anonymousfella

            You have the right idea but Samsung aint gonna do that! You forget tha they have their own app store(S-apps or Galaxy Apps; whatever it is called now) and if they do go via the downloadble features route, it’ll be on their appstore not GPlay.
            TW does look like its still stuck in the past, there are many traces of Gingerbread design in TW…

    • MasterMuffin

      I still like the idea of GPE or Android Silver :|

      • Anonymousfella

        That would be pretty awesome! *-*
        Cutting edge hardware+Vanilla OS=Win!
        However, Samsung wouldn’t want to ship a premium phone without their “signature” ie. TW. Many average guys identify that with Samsung and they probably dont want to alienate that group. Maybe thats what is stopping them from giving TW a proper visual overhaul?

      • crutchcorn

        True dat…

      • thomas sim

        All should comes with GPE OS, with options to download/load apps and features later on. Theme engine is another great option.

    • Juan Paolo Garcia

      I completely agree! if that’s possible though, it’ll only be available for Samsung devices. Making it downloadable would also solve the problem of dumping their investment on software. they have some great features that stock, in my current knowledge, doesn’t have. They can probably be added to stock manually but those are for people who likes to tweak with their phone. Which isn’t for everybody. So what can I say? REMOVE the useless and almost useless features and software and RETAIN useful features (especially for the Note Series). Not everything (a lot if not most) should be changed or removed.

    • Justin Merithew

      Either optionally downloadable, or give options at setup determining how many extra features you want, then it cab automatically set them up if you want your phone fully loaded, or light if you prefer it that way.

    • Shafuq

      Exactly!! When setting up the device, they should give us the option to select which “S” apps do we want in our device!

    • crutchcorn

      Amen to it! If they do this, I’ll stop my TW hate. I know I know, shocking, but I will

      • Anonymousfella


        • crutchcorn


    • David Onter

      But TouchWiz has looked almost the same for years now… What about a design change like every other big company did? :/

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    I’ve been hearing about this so many times. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • all of the sudden, i’m considering Samsung….all of the great intangables of the Galaxy line but with a simple UI? metal housing, camera, battery life and screen quality….lets see what they can come up with to win me over =)

    • YeOldeRam

      and they cost like a thousand $ each. really I’m still not considering them. If i want a stock device for a good price I have oneplus one and the oneplus 2 when it comes out in 6 months

      • I love my Nexus and am hoping for some better updates to fix some stuff and after that, LG all day. But we all know the 1+2 is going to be quite a bit more money (although still cheap I’m sure when comparing to ANYTHING haha). But in regards to stock….CM is not stock. And thats an opinion from a Nexus 5 and now 6 owner with CM installed on my G2 w/ nightlies installed to review =)

      • Reed

        I can’t even take the Oneplus seriously until it’s possible for me to purchase one.

  • YeOldeRam

    they should also make the note s-pen crap downloadable in the app store, if thats even possible. The only reason many people don’t migrate to cyanogen or another rom on note series is because they would lose all the s-pen features.

    • MasterMuffin

      The apps wouldn’t function on AOSP/CM and you wouldn’t even be able to install them

      • Juan Paolo Garcia

        but if it was only downloadable for Samsung phones, would it be possible?

        • MasterMuffin


          • Juan Paolo Garcia

            aw, too bad.

          • YeOldeRam

            no like one that installs like xposed (require root)

          • Reed

            Lol, yea it would work for Samsung only phones. There’s no technical reason why they wouldn’t. Plenty of companies already do this. The problem would come from people trying to sideload the apps onto non Sammy phones.

          • MasterMuffin

            What I meant was S-Pen features still wouldn’t work with AOSP or CM ROMs.

  • Pixel

    Great, now all we need now is “IT’S HAPPENING” GIF

  • Милен Стефанов

    “…GET RID OF UNNECESSARY FUNCTIONS…”- perfect, this means they’ll remove 98,5% of the crap called TouchWiz…

  • Daniel D

    I hope it’s not entirely made out of metal.

    • Wjdzm

      I think Samsung’s going to reserve that for A series.

  • Fabian Taveras

    This should be interesting

  • MJay

    I hope everyone understands that the average consumer buys their phones for those over-saturated features. It is not the rooting community who helps their sales (that is a very small portion). It is the average Joe. At my job, all I see are iPhone or s series/note series. They do not complain about lag, or malfunctions. Reviewers and the flashing community do. I totally agree with the statements that a lot of the bloatware has to stop. I do. Disagree with the note serious though! Those features are useful and if you scale them down or remove them it is no longer a note. I think the UI can be cleaned up though! Just curious if their sales will get better or worse with this move!

    • Wjdzm

      You hit the spot. Majority of the consumers don’t give much about lags or performance… they just go by the designs and features.

    • Juan Paolo Garcia

      I agree, there are really some great features on TouchWiz. Features that, in my current knowledge, aren’t available on stock Android. They’re nonexchangeable. Optimization is the key. one comment here mentioned “downloadable features”, I’ve thought about that before as well. If they want to keep their investments in software, make it downloadable. I personally have no problems with the UI though.
      Though I think there’s hope. check out this analysis.

  • jrod3737

    They just need to make all the bips, bops, and boops more customizable. An example, I have exactly zero use for my “network connection is unstable” message. I have no ability to turn it off. I know it’s unstable – the damn thing won’t bring up Facebook, you moron! I don’t need you nagging me about it too.

    I am a huge proponent of TouchWiz. I actually like it. It could be a little smoother, but I don’t see much of a lag compared to CM11. I’ve extensively used both. If they could make things more customizable and get Android updates to market more quickly I’d be totally sold. I’d also love it if they could find a way to keep pushing firmware updates to rooted phones.

  • Kanoosh

    i think people are expecting too much here..If samsung completely overhauls their hardware they are taking an even bigger risk at loosing all those people that got fimiliar with their past hardware since the S3 (or S2 if you will) and loosing more by changing too much.. remember this day and age people don’t like change that much unfortunately.
    So imo i think sammy will not make a drastic change in hardware but more on the software side like the article says.
    Personally i thought they got it right, as far as features, with the Note 4 (my current phone)..almost every “feature” is an option under settings that can be turned on or off..
    I do think they need to definitely optimize it though and take out that stupid built in RSS news reader at default. meh.

    • Wjdzm

      overhaul hardware? where are you getting this idea from? we are talking about software and design language here.

  • Juan Paolo Garcia

    what else?
    MAKE IT IP68 Certified (Any protection is good)

    • Милен Стефанов

      Who the f*ck needs front facing speakers?

      • Reed

        Who the f*ck needs a smartphone?

      • The Calm Critic

        Lots of people. Xperia Z2/3 and Moto G, Nexus 6 users namely….oh and you’ve also heard of this thing called HTC One M7 and M8 too right?

        • Милен Стефанов

          Don’t give a sh*t how many models have front speakers- you DON’T need them… My wife still uses M7- in 99,98% of cases when listens radio/music or watch video she uses middle class Bluetooth headset. Only idiots listen music through speakers.

          • David Onter

            1. Impose your personal user-situation on everybody else and assume that they use their device in exactly the same way.
            2. Be even more ignorant and start insulting the people that answer and don’t agree with you.
            3. ???
            4. Profit

          • The Calm Critic

            “Only idiots listen music through speakers.”
            Well that could go both ways…And I didn’t necessarily meant listening to music per se. That other voice nav example for example. Useful applications, diff strokes, diff folks.

            Didn’t have to be judgmental about it.

    • The Calm Critic

      You gotta make up your mind man that’s a tall order for Samsung. Where the hell can they place the other speaker if the damn home button is still there?

      • Juan Paolo Garcia

        Hmmm.. I didn’t think of that. :D well, if its possible, why not? but if not, I’d go with the physical home button.

  • MasterMuffin

    They should definitely remove the app drawer. Then I think they should start by making the home button round and the phone more round and thin and from aluminium. Oh wait…

    • Anonymousfella

      Also make it bendable? :P

      • MasterMuffin

        That may just happen ;D

  • roberthenderson

    They are too stupid at Samsung to even put speakers on the front of the phone instead of the back. What makes anybody think that they will be able to handle a software ui retool?

    • namesib

      The overwhelming majority of phones do not have speakers on the front–how many people are complaining?

      • roberthenderson

        Only the ones who come to the realization that back speakers suck & realize the vast extent of their suckitude when they compare it to what HTC, Sony, Nexus and Motorola have done. It’s just piss poor engineering. Samsung isn’t obligated to take its head out of its butt, but I’m sure obligated to buying a non-samsung phone with better sound and design. And I’m not saying you have to care about decent sound quality. If you don’t you don’t. But if you do you do.

        • namesib

          They’re just phone speakers that are still crap compared to a proper hi-fi system or even dedicated speakers. It really does not affect my (or most other people’s) purchasing decision in the slightest.

          • roberthenderson

            Not telling you what you should feel & definitely not comparing it to a high fidelity system, but if you use gps or speakerphone in a noisier environment a lot (car?) or if you like to be able to listen to music or watch a video on the go without lugging around a speaker or headphones or buds, then it makes sense. If you don’t do those things, then it won’t make sense to you. Front speakers are more energy efficient, using less power to deliver the same volume as idiotic rear speakers. I have a Note 3 and can barely make out a phone conversation or navigation directions when road/wind noise gets bad. Here’s an experiment, get your phone and turn on some audio. Now turn the speaker in the opposite direction and carefully observe what happens. It’s OK if you want to accept subpar volume/clarity/energy efficiency from your phone and reward a manufacturer for lazy engineering. I don’t accept it and won’t give them another nickel. If I didn’t need a big screen I would have already gotten Sony’s latest.

  • Mayoo

    DR: How the fuck do you optimize bloatware to the level of not having bloatware at all. Silly Samsung.

  • wat

    I need a build for the very expensive 4G Note Pro if they do, but they’ll ignore it and let it rot in history as they update shitty cheap phones to please more people.

  • John

    If it runs like this on GN3 it will be amazing on S6 :)

  • Just hope, that Samsung want’s only simplify the TouchWiz UI, not really cut out the features only Samsung have. Because this is the reason why I have moved in 2011 from HTC to Samsung. What I would like to suggest to Samsung is completely redesign TouchWiz.
    Honestly I don’t think so, that the “Real Feel” from it’s graphic design is good. I would like to redesign it to get from it like fresh, light feel.

  • fredphoesh

    I dont think it is the amount of extra features that causes the performance issues, but rather that so many of these apps are running in the background. If the experience would only run apps that you choose to run, and let you decide what you want running in the bg and what you want to load ONLY when you need it, that would make a big difference. Touchwiz home screen and app drawer, settings etc is completely smooth. The problem is how third party apps run on Touchwiz… not as smooth as a Nexus 5 or 6.

  • WorkersUnited111

    The thing that everybody hates on Touchwiz are the multiple versions of the same things.

    I don’t need 3 different media players. I don;t need multiple messaging apps. I don’t need S-Voice when Google Now is far superior.

    They keep mimicking Google Apps, but the duplicates are inferior.

    It’s super annoying opening up the app drawer and seeing all these apps I don’t use- most of which I don’t even know what it does. It also makes looking for useful apps that much harder.

  • LeetLawrence

    Yes. Now please update the older flagships to benefit from it :)

  • Ian Mercaldi

    If his actually happens and they reduce the ui to Moto x/nexus level the Galaxy and note like would be amazing. I’ve always liked Samsung products except for touchwiz. But honestly it’s gonna take a ton to get me to switch from my oneplus

  • Anothermuse

    I don’t know that Samsung would actually know how to do that. I mean, I think in their minds there is nothing wrong or clunky about touchwiz.

  • JY

    This looks promising and on phone areana there’s an article comparing stock, touchwiz sense lg and sony’s ui and touchwiz looks decent some aesthetics and app redesign are needed but it isn’t the worse looking

  • Indels

    I have yet to find a phone as smooth as the Galaxy S2 was at launch. I want that type of optimization!

  • Richard Riker

    If Samsung want to survive, this is the best chioce they can make. And maybe other OEMs also go closer to Stock Android.

  • Jose Alberto

    Make all optional, lollipop have that advantage, an moto g is takes lower time to open the calculator than S5 in lollipop,

  • rob3211

    my note 4 is almost always continually usinf mor ethan 2GBs of RAM even when all the apps are closed its about time they did something

  • Rick_Deckard

    Seriously… Just use Google Stock, and add the samsung apps such as the camera app.. And that’s it!!!!!

  • tim costello

    Even if sammie wants to add bloatware… it shud at very least give options to disable… or even setup a wizard when you first start phone to choose what style fits you and load a lite, allrounder, or full profile… giving the option to user…. touchwiz sucks btw… flagship phone with a very very dated launcher

  • dabo

    Man I love this phone, can’t to get it.