Touchwiz and GS5 software improvements – What you need to know

by: Andrew GrushFebruary 26, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 Hands on MWC 2014-1160048

MWC 2014 Coverage brought to you by: Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android.

The Galaxy S5 is here, and so far it seems to have been greeted with fairly mixed reception. While some folks enjoy the look of the new soft-touch plastic backing and the new software improvements, others feel that the Galaxy S5 fell short of what was expected.

Part of this is because the rumor mill went so crazy with the Galaxy S5. We not only heard several times about a major design change, but various leaks also suggested the UI would see a major overhaul as well. As it turns out, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Of course, that doesn’t mean Samsung hasn’t made changes to TouchWiz or its onboard apps with the introduction of the Galaxy S5.

Let’s jump in and take a look at what’s new (or improved) here:

Samsung Galaxy S5 Hands on MWC 2014-1160031

Circular buttons in the Settings Menu and Notification Dropdown Toggles: One of the more noticeable aesthetic changes in the latest version of TouchWiz are the circular buttons that exist both in the settings menu and in the notification dropdown toggles. The circular look is somewhat similar to what we’ve seen with the NotePro.

New Toolbox option: Within the settings you’ll find a new option called Toolbox. Clicking on the Toolbox causes white dots to appear, inscribing an ellipsis. You can tap this and it will expand to reveal shortcuts to various tools including the voice recorder, calculator and notes app. You can also swap in other apps instead.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Hands on MWC 2014-1160039

Recent apps button replaces menu button on the GS5: The Galaxy S5 rids itself of the menu button in favor of a recent apps button, which allows you to go in and out of apps — giving you slightly improved multitasking.

My Magazine in the Homescreen: While the homescreen itself is the same as ever, Samsung seems to be taking a page out of Google’s book, putting the My Magazine UI as a second screen that you can swipe to from the right.

Quick connect: S-Beam was reasonably decent for sharing content between NFC devices, but Quick Connect is a new setting that you can get from the notifications shade and makes it easy to connect to your computer and many other devices for transferring files and other data.

Kids Mode: As previously rumored, the Galaxy S5 features a kids mode that prevents younger kids from getting access to certain apps, data and more. There are also several special apps built into kids mode such as karaoke app. For those looking for even more control over what their kids have access to on their phones, parental controls allow you to set a time limit, prevent certain apps from being installed and more.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Hands on MWC 2014-1160083

Improved camera software

We already know that the Galaxy S5 has a dramatically improved 16MP camera with ISOCELL technology, but the camera options have also been greatly improved. Here’s a highlight of some of the major features coming to the GS5 cam:

Phase Detection Auto Focus: Advanced auto focus speeds for capturing a shot quickly – first smartphone with phase detection auto focus, a feature usually found in DSLR cameras.

Real-Time HDR: High Dynamic Range (HDR) preview mode makes it easier to choose when to use HDR – like trying to photograph a beautiful sunset. It also enables users to capture HDR photos or videos with no shutter lag or post-processing.

Selective Focus Mode: Blur images near or far for a creative, one-of-a-kind shot.

Shot and More Mode: The camera chooses and recommends Drama Shot, Best Photo, Best Face or Eraser shot after the picture is taken to create the best photo

Studio: Add effects to photos and edit movies with a complete suite of editing tools within the Gallery.


Fingerprint integration and Heart Rate Monitor

While the fingerprint scanner  and heart rate monitor are obviously new hardware features, Samsung had to make some software changes in order to accommodate the technologies. Let’s talk about some of the the things you can do with the fingerprint scanner:

Logging in: The most obvious benefit is that the fingerprint scanner allows you to skip a passcode or other authentication method, and instead lets you simply swipe your finger.

Integrated Paypal support: For those that use Paypal both at retailers that accept mobile payments via the Paypal app and online, you can now use your fingerprint instead of a password. For those wondering, Paypal does not have access to your fingerprint, as the phone simply verifies to Paypal that your fingerprint is the correct one.

Multiple finger support: More than one fingerprint can be registered with the fingerprint scanner and different levels of access can be provided. For example, it’s possible (though completely optional) to have your Galaxy S5 launch in a ‘demo mode’ of sorts, with no access to personal info, files or media and then unlock the full experience with a fingerprint.

Knox 2.0 support: Yesterday Samsung took the wraps off of Knox 2.0, bringing two-factor biometric authentication to the mix, which obviously requires the Galaxy S5’s fingerprint scanner. For more details on Knox 2.0 and its fingerprint integration, be sure to check out our original Knox 2.0 announcement post.

Samsung Galaxy S5 s health heart rate monitor 2

As for the Heart Rate monitor? At the moment, there’s only support S Health integration, though the SDK has since been released, so eventually we should see more apps that support the heart rate monitor.

S-Health integration: Using the heart rate feature is easy in the newly updated S-Health app. You start by selecting the heart-rate monitor icon from S Health, then you place your index finger on the flash module and hold it for a few seconds — it will then give you the reading. Whether this feature is truly useful or just a gimmick is up for interpretation.

Wrap Up

All the features listed above are some of the biggest changes we’ve learned about so far, though it’s also worth noting that several of Samsung’s core apps have also been updated, providing a look that falls in line with the updated S-Health app. As the dust settles and we continue to learn more about the Galaxy S5, we’ll update this post with even more information regarding new apps and Touchwiz features.

What do you think about Samsung’s latest software changes? Like what you see, or were you hoping for something more drastic?

  • Mihnea

    All these improvements eats 8GB from internal. My Nexus 5 has 12.55GB free, and I am very happy without Touchwiz :P

    • patrik

      Yeah and where’s your Microsd slot that can give you 128GB more memory? Also there’s a 32GB version.

      Now be quiet and let the adults talk.

      • Corey Watford

        Well like the S4, no one will really sell the 32gb version, and do you really have another 150bucks for 128gb micro sd card, and for what…movies? I dont know about you but 1080p movies look so much better on a 70in led, than a 5.1in amoled

      • Mihnea

        You can’t compare micro SD with internal storage. Why to spend 100$ for more space? Because Samsung can’t make the base model on 32GB, and to sell SD cards. On the other hand, you can’t move all the apps on micro SD :P

        • Chris

          He is upset because his S5 is subpar any phone released at MWC. Hence why he indirectly called you a child… Everyone knows that the Nexus 5 is the godsend of all phones.

          Cheers! :)

          • Jesus

            Mate, lets be honest.

            I have a Nexus… and would like an SD card and especially, removable batteries.

          • gh0st

            then maybe you should not have bought a nexus, o son of god

          • Chris

            Yeah I don’t understand that. I know when I was going into purchasing the N5, I would not have these 2 features… And they haven’t plagued me at all. I still have 9 GB left on my N5 and my battery runs me on a day, sometimes a day and a half.

      • Lisandro O Oocks

        1. Who needs a 128GB SD card.
        2. The cloud backs you up and is slightly more reliable.
        3. Once you get rid of a tiny plastic thing that holds everything you been hoarding for the last decade. You realize how much better your life is, not having to take care of a plastic thingy.

    • You got below 8GB on Galaxy S5.. it’s much lower that S4…. I am agreed, Nexus is the PURE ANDROID

      • Jaun Lombard

        And your argument is what?

        Everybody knows Nexus is pure Android…thanx fo stating the obvious!

      • hoggleboggle

        Where are you getting the 8GB from? AndroidCentral? The System uses 5.28GB (less than the 5.64 on the Note 3) What Android Central are reporting also includes 2.33GB of Miscellaneous files and 0.5GB of used space which can all be deleted if required and were probably built-up during the usage of the demo phone. This gives you a total of 10.69GB of usable space or about “GB more than vanilla Android.

      • hoggleboggle

        actually you don’t. The storage space available to the user is only slightly less than the Z1 (about 1GB I think) in the region of 10GB what you are refering to is a fake report that showed a s5 display unit which had a load of user related apps and downloads on it. Please stop spouting this nonsense.

    • Jaun Lombard

      And your Argument…this article is for people who does not want pure android because it is plain.

  • patrik

    I honestly don’t get why Samsung gets so much crap about the s5. I honestly cannot see any other phone that gives a similar package within one device.

    For me, I cannot live without a removable battery and a micro SD slot, just there a lot of other flagship go away. Then there’s the superb amoled screen, the backplate might not be the prettiest but it allows for a really good grip.

    People focus WAY to much on the design and forget the functionality behind the device itself.

    I truly hope some other manufacturer can bring a complete package like Samsung does today.

    • Brendon Brown

      I guess if you put a cover on the S5 the design problem goes away..

      • Jaun Lombard

        But I think with the new design you dont need a cover…it looks if though it can handel a fall like my S2….I drop myne like every week. Once my phone fell on the sharp side of brick and it only got a dent!

        • Brendon Brown

          Its obviously a durable phone, but theres been allot of hate about the actual design.

    • JonDuke19

      There is a reason for that. We live in an age where I can keep my smartphone for 2-3 years and it will still be powerful. The phones now a ridiculously powerful for what they do. So, when you’ve topped that, what’s left?

      Going from 2 Gb or ram to 3 is not going to give me anything I can notice if I’m in the general population. So what? Design. HTC just won the phone of the year. Why? Because design. It is beautiful. Does the same as others. But looks way better while doing it (The screen quality is also better but not much people notice it at this point).

      That is why people give so much attention to an ugly back plate. Because all the phones on the market are beast internally so the differentiation point is external.

      I do admit, my next phone will need to have a SD slot. The removable battery, not so much for me, it doesn’t bother me at all. But, that’s just me.

    • arcwindz

      The keyword here is “for me”
      Micro sd slot and a removable battery is a neat feature, and i personally can’t go with micro sd. But it doesn’t make the phone obsolete.
      The problem i see with s5 is that, it is its 5th itteration, 5th… And since s3 people hasn’t seen something wow-like from samsung
      Look at the competition, the g2, the z2, htc one two lol. These phones are in the 2nd Or 3rd generation of their line and they improve and provide matching specs with a more fresh image than samsung’s is. People are bored, they expect more from samsung. It’s like a big letdown when the favorite team to win the race suddenly lose the championship

  • Mike Bastable

    Android Authority please!
    Headline: AA what you need to know!
    Most have your readers have indicated in the polls on your own site that they dislike or are indifferent to this phone. Can AA and Andrew please stop this continual coverage of a very average product and move on? It is growing to proportions pf an advertising campaign where we as readers are beginning to wonder how much Samsung has paid you guys! A lot has happended this week please cover that and give us a break with the S5 analysis / promotions.

    • Jaun Lombard

      Even though you think the S5 is average….I dont…I want more S5 news

      Just because you are not sold on the looks does not make the S5 average!

      If you take looks out of the equation, then you have a phone which is actually one of the best if not the best, thus the reason why AA reports on the S5 because there is soooo much the S5 offers, you cant put it all in one article!

      Now go eat a snicker…you sound dumb and without logic when you are hungry!

      • Mike Bastable

        Lol…you are the minority and i have a peanut allergy

      • Mike Bastable

        Samsung employee?

        • Jaun Lombard

          Nope…just an average phone user that base his arguments on facts and logic and not on assumptions or opinions of others!

          • Mike Bastable

            Jan: my request was that AA adjust its coverage of the S5. Mist readers, a huge majority were not impressed or interested in this phone. I’m glad you like it, I prefer the new Sony and LG. My logic is why is AA pushing this phone so hard whilst it readers, when asked in a poll, displayed disinterest.
            Is it really necessary to insult me personally? Just because we do not agree?

  • tay

    We’re alla fanboys here, so I’m gonna go ahead and put out a fanboy comment;
    “Samsung seems to be taking a page out of Google’s book, putting the My Magazine UI as a second screen that you can swipe to from the right.”..

    Weren’t HTC first in doing this with blinkfeed? Everyone went crazy back then, but it seems more acceptable now..

  • superwizardnearvolcanofightbug

    Can you pleaase tell me the name of camera you take pictures with , the resolution and colors looks amaziing!

  • Poopik Shmill

    Does it come with the s-lag (like in all galaxy phones)?

  • Roseman Eisen

    Honestly the only thing I really like the phone is that electric blue. Part of me feels like the note 3 did things so much better and that was nearly half a year ago. What’s new about this phone that makes it stand above the crowd. I planned on getting the note 4 when it was released because that’s around the time my contract was up but I said if the s5 was good enough I’d get it and quite honestly I’m disappointed by it. But that’s just me I’m not some super tech savvy person so baby I’m missing something but I don’t see a wow factor here that the note can’t do in some form

  • apianist16

    Who wants to bet that Samsung sells 50,000,000 of these?

  • knobskin

    Its simple its not just Samsung but android and cell phones in general….what more do you want them to do? This is like when the iPhone 4s came out….same reception imo….there is nothing wrong with the s5 if you don’t mind touchwiz and are a power user who may need a spare battery on hand, otherwise as for now I see android has reached its peak! The only thing I would like to see on the S5 is a solid camera for video recording in high volume areas where I don’t get pure distortion. HTC can do this and Nokia can so why not Samsung? Otherwise I’m not sure what people were expecting?

  • bloodymackey

    People always look for a new design, but most of us cover it(use case protection). Lol

  • Cristi13

    The storage thing about the s5 is false, the red miscellaneous files in that photo were files put by the user. Here is a screenshot of my s3

  • patrick

    They didnt mention anything about the “OK google” integration in the search bar. Sure it’s a minor thing but its nice that you don’t have to side load the Google Now launcher and it’s already integrated into the S5. I’ve sideloaded the Google Now Launcher on my S4 before but the big icons kill it for me and which is why i dont use it.

  • Joao Cardozo

    I´ve got a Samsung galaxy S4 (i9005-international version(Europe) ) and I want to know if the 4.4.2 kitkat update will bring the same look as on the GS5???

    • Guest

      Mee too in fact that’s why I came on here. I love the ui on the gs5 so I got a launcher but its not the same :(