Saturday, 19 April 2014

Android Central article on the Galaxy s5

The Galaxy S5 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box, topped with a new, redesigned TouchWiz UI from the Korean manufacturer. A visual refresh for Samsung's smartphone software has been long overdue, so we're happy to witness the end of the weird half-nature-inspired, half-skeuomorphic TouchWiz "skin" of old. In its place is a flatter, more reserved interface that's still fairly colorful, but less offensive to the senses than previous Samsung efforts. The individual bits of TouchWiz now look more like they belong to a whole. In contrast to the odd hodgepodge of colors and styles seen in previous iterations of TouchWiz, the GS5's UI pares things back with menus and buttons based around dark, teal hues. It's not the most pleasing color to look at, but it has a consistency that was lacking from earlier versions. And the use of darker colors also presents battery life advantages for AMOLED devices. Overall, Samsung's UI remains visually busy, with icons to press, settings to tweak and an unending barrage of software tricks to discover. The Galaxy S5 doesn't beat you over the head with features the way it's predecessors did — instead most of the extraneous stuff (or value-added extras, depending on your perspective) lives in the labyrinthine Settings menu, with each one represented by a circular icon. It's easier to navigate than the GS4's confusing tabbed view, but it does lay bare just how much stuff this phone has going on. Samsung may have rearranged its army of features, but it remains armed to the teeth with various tools, capabilities and yes, even gimmicks. Even the 22 toggles exposed in the quick settings menu, including staples like Multi window and Smart stay, barely scratch the surface. Samsung seems to be listening to feedback from consumers and critics alike. Despite this abundance of software gizmos, Samsung seems to be listening to feedback from consumers and critics alike. All the Galaxy S5's various features are relatively well-organized, and there's greater visual cohesion among Samsung's vast loadout of first-party apps. The move to lighter fonts and flatter icons also gives the whole of TouchWiz a more modern feel. Galaxy S5 help, tips, and tricks The Galaxy S5 is a highly-customizable phone with many features. For a helping hand getting to grips with all the GS5's various tricks, our Galaxy S5 help page is a great place to start. Samsung's tailored software experience The stock TouchWiz launcher has been significantly overhauled, with new animations, a redesigned app grid and new-look widgets for many apps. In keeping with the Galaxy S5's overall design language, everything is flatter, lighter and less rooted in Android's past than before. (Unfortunately Samsung's new stock wallpaper collection, a cacophony of primary colors, doesn't quite fit in here.) The "My Magazine" feature, first seen on the Note 3, returns on the GS5, giving access to an HTC BlinkFeed-style (or, FlipBoard) list of news and social updates within the home screen launcher. This time it's activated by swiping right once more from the leftmost home screen page, just like BlinkFeed or Google Now, only Samsung's implementation isn't as competent or useful as either of these competitors. The animation for loading into the "magazine" layout is much slower than we'd like, and while a wide range of social services is supported (notably absent is Facebook, by the way), the "news" side of the equation falls short. You're limited to checking boxes to choose from 15 categories, with no way to add custom feeds or drill down and select individual publications. For casual content consumption, BlinkFeed, or the Flipboard app upon which My Magazine is based, are much better choices. Good thing it's easy to disable. Samsung Galaxy S5 app drawer 1 / 22 Fatal error: Could not extract a stage height from the CSS. Traced height: 0px. Fortunately this isn't representative of the quality of Samsung's other apps, the majority of which sport a more mature (and, dare we say it, more Androidy) look on the Galaxy S5, with slide-out menus and overflow buttons to display functionality that was previously hidden behind the legacy menu key. This can be seen throughout the Calendar app, S Voice, the Gallery, the SMS app, S Health and Samsung's own app store. There's still a bit of crossover with certain Android features — S Finder, for instance, duplicates some of Google Search's functionality, and the presence of two app stores could confuse newcomers. (And let's not even get started on the whole Gallery/Photos debacle.) Nevertheless, the Samsung and Google worlds seem less at odds with each other in 2014. While Samsung has hooked the Galaxy S5's apps into its own cloud presence — memos and calendar appointments can be synced to your Samsung account, for instance — the company's content ecosystem is conspicuous in its absence. You won't find the Samsung hub anywhere on the GS5 — instead Google Play is your main source for movies, TV and music. Samsung's also reduced the number of preloaded apps, relegating certain bundled GS4 features to the status of downloadable extras. Apps like Gear Manager, WatchON, Story Album and S Note now live on the Samsung Apps store and can be downloaded through the "Galaxy Essentials" menu option in the launcher. Sure, this isn't quite the TouchWiz do-over some will have been been hoping for, and it still feels like a successor to what we've seen previously on the GS4 and Note 3. Perhaps that's what's most significant, though — a clear step forward for Samsung's design language, even if everything's not perfect just yet. We shouldn't let Samsung off the hook for every design faux pas on account of its being a relatively big and slow-moving ship. (And there are a few, if you take the time to look — the TouchWiz method for adding folders, for instance, is ridiculously obtuse.) But it's important that most design changes in the new UI are positive ones. That said, we prefer the look and feel of HTC Sense 6 and stock Android KitKat over Samsung's refurbished TouchWiz. And as we've previously mentioned, the manufacturer still has some catching up to do in terms of software performance. The big grid of Samsung Galaxy S5 features There's not enough room in this review to cover each one of the Galaxy S5's features in-depth — you can find more on that at our Galaxy S5 help page — so here's an overview of some the phone's top software tricks: Quick connect Samsung's answer to AirPlay, lets you share files wirelessly with other supported devices over Wifi Direct. Download Booster Combines your LTE and Wifi connections to boost download speeds, but only works in certain apps. Some U.S. carrier variants don't (yet) have this feature. S Finder Samsung's on-device search app, which indexes most local content to make it easier to find stuff. S Health Samsung's fitness app, which links into the built-in pedometer and heart rate sensor. Ultra power saving mode Puts the phone into a super-low-power state and limits the apps you can use to save battery power. Safety assistance Lets you set up emergency contacts and set up key press combinations to send a message (and a photo) if you're in danger. Also warns of severe weather conditions and kicks in Ultra power saving mode. Multi window Allows more than one app to be run on-screen at a time, through a split-screen view. Toolbox A floating menu giving you access to five favorite apps at any time. One-handed operation Lets you shrink the screen into a smaller window by using a swiping gesture. Easy mode Makes the home screen and other Samsung apps simpler, with larger text and fewer options. Blocking mode Samsung's "do not disturb" option, letting you block some (or all) calls or notifications between specific times. Private mode Lets you lock away private (ahem) photos and other stuff behind a password or fingerprint lock. Air view Lets you hover over certain items in some apps (e.g. photo thumbnails, calendar appointments) with your finger to view more details. Group Play Lets you wirelessly connect to multiple Galaxy devices and use them as speakers for music playback. My Magazine Samsung's answer to HTC BlinkFeed, bringing social updates and news articles to your home screen. Group camcorder Similar to Group Play, but for video. Connected devices can shoot video, then the "director" can edit all the footage together. Baby crying detector Lets you use your Galaxy S5 like a baby monitor when paired with a Gear smartwatch S Voice Samsung's Siri-like voice assistant app, accessible by double-tapping the home key. Scrapbook First introduced on the Note 3. Lets you snip content from other apps and paste it into your own digital collection. Smart Remote Control your TV and cable box, and view live TV listings. S Translator Samsung's first-party translation app. Glove mode Increases touch sensitivity to make the touchscreen usable when wearing gloves.

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