Samsung Cutting Bloat, Trimming TouchWiz

Samsung Cutting Bloat, Trimming TouchWiz

Reports keep iterating over the rumors that Samsung has been trimming down TouchWiz for its upcoming devices. After years of customer complaints, particularly from power users, Samsung seems to finally have taken initiative towards cracking down the stutters that often plague some of its devices, particularly older ones or those that see a long life without clean-ups. But even handsets like the Galaxy S5 managed to be outperformed by low range devices. Android enthusiasts as a whole took disdain in Samsung’s software over this and more, and while these make a tiny subset of Samsung’s sales, everyone hates slow phones.

The latest report from Sammobile, the reputable whistle-blower for all things Samsung, indicates that Samsung will be trimming TouchWiz out of “bloatware”, in an effort to keep the device slim and functioning as efficiently as it can. Given that Samsung flagships launch with the best hardware available in the market, users expect top notch performance, but the memory hogging of pre-installed apps hurt the stability of the system. Not only do they soak up RAM and CPU cycles, but many of them like Kids Mode (pictured to the right – yes, that’s real) can’t be disabled nor uninstalled. Users are often left pondering why Samsung insists their applications bog down the UI when their use cases are limited, their use frequency low, and there’s usually much better featured and optimized – not to mention prettier – alternatives in the Google Playstore.

While it isn’t exactly specified whether all of the “optional” applications will be absent from Samsung’s software, we can expect those that do to be available for download and installation. Integrated functions like Smart Stay or Air View will most likely remain present, as they touch on lower-level assets that communicate with the hardware. And applications like S-Health are also deeply integrated (due to sensors) but also very popular, so you can expect those to make the cut too. As for S-Translator and the rest of clone apps, we expect them to pack their bags.

Samsung’s bloat has inflicted the rage of many users ever since their overbloated (yet successful) Galaxy S3. Bloat is not exclusive to Samsung, and many Korean offerings (like LG’s) practice this trend as well. In 2014, South Korea ruled that bloatware must be made removable in smartphone devices, claiming that it caused “inconveniences” for users and it was a “unfair” for competitors. This last bit is debatable, but the former is almost a tautological certainty. This ruling hasn’t seen a paradigm leak into western nations, however, and in the rest of the world, Samsung phones still come packed with applications that will annoy you until you root your phone to eradicate them.

The most interesting bit about this news is the fact that, once again, we get a report that Samsung is doing as much as it can to offer a fast user experience. Earlier this month, we got reports that they set the bar high by aiming to match the Nexus family in terms of performance. At one point in smartphone history, the Nexus devices were unequivocally the fastest of the bunch. Nowadays, many manufacturers like Motorola have adopted stock Android and dramatically improved their user experiences in terms of smoothness and speed. And even those that choose to skin their version can attain similar or better performance, as proved by HTC with their HTC M8, an ultra-fast phone. Samsung seems to be taking some cues from these OEMs when it comes to Motorola’s bloatware trashing and HTC’s meticulous optimizing.

But performance is also based on hardware, and recent news have suggested that Samsung might be dropping the Snapdragon 810 in their phones due to performance and over-heating issues, and adopting an in-house Exynos chip instead. While this was considered a terrible move by those who love Qualcomm’s speedy chips, leaks quickly proved everyone wrong when they showed that the Geekbench 3 benchmarks for Samsung’s latest Exynos processor far surpass Qualcomm’s flagship in almost every specification. This could also mean that Samsung could be dropping Qualcomm’s chip not because of the overheating issues that were constantly reported, but because their own chip would be a better option for an enhanced user experience.

As of now, we don’t have the answers. But earlier today, Qualcomm reportedly specified that a big customer has dropped the Snapdragon 810 from their upcoming flagship device. This could be a continuation on the reality that the rumors and speculation have suggested, and if this really is the case, then we can expect an all-new Samsung offering, from internals to software.

What is certain, however, is that the latest Lollipop builds for Galaxy devices show a big improvement in performance and optimization, as detailed in our analysis of the Lollipop leak for the Galaxy Note 3. In there you see that the build tested does in fact match the Nexus 5 in performance, and has seen significant improvements in every performance aspect from real-world speed to benchmarks. Since that build, I’ve been flashing more leaked and official firmware releases, and on the final version of the ROM the performance is seamless and stellar.

All we can do now is wait, but every fact, leak, report, analysis and rumor point towards a strong emphasis in having TouchWiz deliver the user experience that today’s hardware merits having. I am more than content with my current Lollipop build’s performance, as everything is instant and smooth. But what I still have my doubts on, and anxiously hope is true, is the bloatware trimming. I have already disabled, tortured and gotten rid of Kids Mode on my phone, and I hope I never have to again.

Do you think Samsung finally took the memo? What do you expect from the Galaxy S6‘s performance, given the latest buzz? Leave us your opinion in the comments!

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