The other day I wrote about how the Nexus 7 has satisfied my need for a “stock Android” device and giving me the chance to check out some non Nexus devices. I picked up the Samsung Galaxy S III and have been using it with Samsung’s software for a few weeks now. Surprisingly I have really been enjoying using it. Instead of just saying “it’s good” or “it has nice features”, I figured I would break down exactly what features of the latest TouchWiz have stood out to me. Hit the jump for more Wiz!
First off, there are definitely things I hate, loath, and stay awake at night cursing about TochWiz. However, all the things I hate seem to be design focused and not how it functions. The icons are ugly, the grayish blue and green theme looks dated, and the fake leather of the calendar skin makes me want to punch a baby. Pushing past the fugly I discovered that there is a lot to love on the inside. Well, that and I installed a custom theme that gets rid of most of the ugly. That’s a tale for another day. Let’s dive in to what TouchWiz does well.
I love the TouchWiz, aka Nature UI, lockscreen. It has this water ripple and sound effect when you touch the screen that’s surprisingly addictive. My Fiancé yelled at me just the other day because I found myself just touching the screen for no damn reason other than to see the ripple and hear the sound. The lockscreen also supports custom shortcuts. Swiping these icons up into “the water” will open them. It works in a similar way to Sense UI’s lockscreen shortcuts. The other standout feature on the lockscreen is voice input. Samsung has added voice actions that can be executed from the lockscreen without having to anything but click the power button. I have mine set up to unlock when I say “unlock phone”, open my calendar when I say “what’s my next appointment”, and open the camera by saying “take a picture”. Not only are these useful, but they are a good way to get “oohs and awes” from your friends.
The amount of features that Samsung has packed into the camera is a little overwhelming. However, once you settle on the few you will actually use, it becomes one of the best camera experiences available. One particular useful feature is being able to snap a picture with your voice. The other day I needed to take a picture of some damage to the back of my couch. Instead of sliding the couch out and dealing with all of that, I just hung my arm over the back and said “capture”. It’s also really nice seeing as there is no physical shutter button, makes things much easier than hitting the virtual button. Especially for MySpace style self portraits (Nic Ball).
Samsung has gone all out with the motion functions on the Galaxy S III with some being very useful and some just plain stupid. Tilting the phone back and forth can zoom in and out of photos and web pages, while panning left to right on the home screen can move icons around. I find both of these pretty lame. The motion features I do find that add to the experience are things like flipping the phone over to mute the ringer and placing my palm over the lockscreen to mute media playing.
There are other smaller features within TouchWiz I like as well, but these are things that really stand out to me after using the device. These features went from being a gimmick to something I have actually used multiple times and find useful. Don’t get me wrong the gimmick to useful ratio is still 10:1, but the things that do stick, I really enjoy. After my experience with the new Wiz I can honestly see why some people would prefer this to other manufactures’ skins and even stock Android. Ugly ass icons and skin aside, Samsung’s latest TouchWiz impresses.