Friday, December 30, 2011

Samsung chooses TouchWiz over Ice Cream Sandwich


You may have heard the stink was recently raised about the Galaxy S. Samsung announced that neither it or the original Galaxy Tab would be getting the update to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. The company blamed it on the devices’ hardware, saying that they can’t handle the new version of Android with the TouchWiz UI pasted on top. After getting some bad press, Samsung’s PR and software teams huddled together and came up with a solution that misses the point entirely: in place of Ice Cream Sandwich, the Galaxy S will be receiving a “value pack” full of ICS-like features.
Think of it this way: you’re a big electronics manufacturer, and some of your customers are up in arms about an update that they won’t be getting. The only thing preventing the update is your custom user interface that you insist on slapping on top of every version of Android. So you look at a laundry list of new Ice Cream Sandwich features, tell your software developers to come up with their own versions of them, and throw it all into your skinned version of Gingerbread.
What exactly will this “value pack” entail? Samsung will release an official statement soon, but we can look at Ice Cream Sandwich features and speculate. It could have features like Face Unlock, a panoramic photo tool, lockscreen actions, and homescreen folders.
What Samsung doesn’t get is that those generic features aren’t why people want Ice Cream Sandwich. They want it because it’s the most refined, attractive, and advanced version of Android. They want it because of its guts, not because of its skin. A “Value Pack” just takes Samsung’s face-lifted Gingerbread, and shoots a little more Botox into it.
Samsung is free to insist on using its TouchWiz UI on every phone and tablet that it releases. It’s part of their branding, and is the solution their focus meetings have come up with to differentiate their mobile devices. Fortunately, Samsung’s customers are also free. They are free to avoid the temptation to buy Samsung TouchWiz devices, and turn to another manufacturer that puts software quality above software branding.