Jul 13 AT 4:46 PM Taylor Wimberly 47 Comments

Touchwiz 3.0 walkthrough with the Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S)

When Samsung took their first stab at a custom Android UI, the results were not pretty. Reviewers hated Touchwiz and Gizmodo said, “Samsung’s Behold II is the most impressively ugly Android phone in existence. The custom interface is so bad, so gaudy and so confusing it turned my brains into ooze.”

To no surprise, sales of the T-Mobile Behold II disappointed and Samsung cut their losses when they decided not to release Android 2.1 for the phone.

Not even Behold II Man could save this unfortunate flop and upset customers considered legal action over the lack of support.

If you you considered the original Touchwiz a disease, then consider the new Touchwiz 3.0 as the cure. I’ve only spent a couple of days with the new user interface on the Samsung Captivate, but I can say it doesn’t get in the way or annoy the user and you can switch to an alternative desktop if you prefer a more traditional Android experience.

Overall, Touchwiz 3.0 doesn’t really add anything of value to the power user because most (if not all) of its features can be duplicated with free apps from the Android Market. Users will find scrollable widgets, custom live wallpapers, alternative input methods like Swype, and a custom app drawer that many say is Apple-inspired. Samsung also tacked on toggles for settings like WiFi and Bluetooth to their notification bar, which is a nice feature but I wish it could be turned off.

The best thing I can say about TouchWiz is that you are not forced to use it. There is no forced “Touchwiz” account like you see on the Motoblur phones and all the widgets and sync services can be configured to off. Owners just use the built-in Android settings and they can configure which social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc.) that they want to connect.

Our only real question about Touchwiz 3.0 is – how long will it slow down software updates like the pending Android 2.2 releaes? Samsung doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to pushing out updates, but I think they are aware of this.

While we wait for the carriers to push out Android 2.2 this summer, it appears like Samsung will step out of the way and let the community support the Galaxy S devices on their own. The handset maker has already released their source code and it appears the majority of Galaxy S devices have unlocked bootloaders that allow users to flash unsigned updates. These important “features” should be enough reason that the Galaxy S will become one of the most popular platforms for open source development.

Since you can easily root all their phones, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a situation where open source developers port Android 2.2 to some of the U.S. phones before they even go on sale.

For a quick idea of what to expect from Touchwiz 3.0 and to see what other desktop replacements look like, check out our quick walk-through video.

p.s. check back tomorrow for a report on the TV out functions

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website Daniel

    Is the bootloader actually unlocked, or just less secure? There’s a big difference, if you want to imply Samsung left the device open on purpose while Motorola is evil.

    • http://Website peter

      Samsung published their entire source code for the GT-I9000 Galaxy S phone on their Open Source download center site.

      • Gee

        Does that mean the ability to develop/port fully working UNOFFICIAL ROMs? Like take the Froyo AOSP build and port it to the Galaxy S? I’ve heard that the drivers were unusable for that — something like it being encrypted? I’m really interested in knowing because if it’s untrue then I’d trade up my EVO for the Epic 4G.

        • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

          I’m not 100% sure but I think the answer is yes. Devs have already released custom kernels and enabled Froyo features like JIT on the international version of the Galaxy S. It sounds like the drivers were also released with the source code so the community can begin porting them to the latest kernel whenever more phones come out.

          • http://Website Gee

            Yeah, thats the thing, the drivers were released but according to a thread on xda, are unusable. Hopefully it gets sorted out.. EVO isn’t looking all the that good either looks like the wimax drivers is a problem for cyanogen.

      • http://Website Daniel

        Publishing “entire source code” is meaningless if the bootloader is locked, see TiVo. And it’s not “entire” by any measure, they’re just obeying the GPL2 license of certain modules in the Android source code (most notably the kernel). HTC and Motorola also do this.

    • http://Website Bobby Digital

      Its already rooted, check it out over on xda…


  • http://Website Antwan

    Does the TouchWiz 3.0 include Smart Dialing?

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Yes, dialing the numbers brings up contacts by number and by name. You can use T9 to spell out your contacts if you want.

  • http://Website Sobo

    Thanks Taylor. This is great.

    I look forward to the TV Out post.

  • http://Website chip chipperson

    such a iphone os rip off, this phone would appeal to alot of potential customers if it had vanilla android, many of us are trying to get as far away from the iphone as possible. Not get rid of an iphone for a phone trying to emulate it.

    • http://Website Ryan

      How is this an iPhone OS ripoff? It can do things that iPhone users can only dream of. The only thing that looks similar is the applications. If you don’t like it, just switch it to the regular Android scroll up/down feature.

    • http://Website Brantyr

      Yes it’s iPhone like, standard android stayed away from this to differentiate itself and not tempt lawsuits too much but IMO a horizontal, page at a time scrolling app menu is a lot better than a vertically scrolling list. I’m the farthest thing from an apple fanboy (I hate the company and they’ll never get a cent of my money) but since I started using the horizontal drawer of ADW launcher I can’t go back, it’s a lot easier for me to find the app I’m looking for now.

      • richykid you get me

        BrantyrGUEST thats bullsh!t sony used horizontal scrolling and samsung did this on phones with bada long before apple/ just saying apple was never the first to do the things the iphone can they just put them all together in one phone first.

    • http://Website ari-free

      What’s iphone like? The widgets? The way it lets you have different input methods? Or maybe the fact that it lets you use another launcher such as adw.launcher?

    • http://Website Bobby Digital

      I am returning my iPhone 4 for this… iOS may have new features, but it still looks the same as it did on the original iphone, same sounds, no way to customize(until now, finally, a freakin wallpaper!!)… Android is trying to take on the iPhone now, and it is showing, growing and looking better then ever.

    • http://Website Danix180

      You’re in the wrong forum dude! Apple zombie…

      • http://Website scubasteve

        Dude if someone wants to ditch the iPhone and join the Android revolution don’t hate on em ;)

    • Devin

      Nicely said.

  • http://Website Shawn

    “p.s. check back tomorrow for a report on the TV out functions”

    You tease.

  • http://Website Ryan

    Excellent preview Taylor!

    It appears to be very smooth and snappy. I assume it would be redundant to do a similar review on the Vibrant from TMobile since they all use the same interface, but did the phone continue to be as smooth and snappy as it was in this video? There was one video of the Vibrant being somewhat laggy, but that’s the only video I’ve seen the lag.

  • http://Website Ben

    I see each touch wiz customization as a problem that pushes android os updates out further into the future. Wish they would just sell these as apps in the market instead of forcing them on people.

  • http://Website caelestis2

    Some people want to know if the ATT logo is glued on the screen or under it, so we can remove it.

    • http://Website caelestis2

      Oh, also, can you do a quadrant benchmark? How well does it perform on the I/O? Do applications launch with out stalling or did samsung not fix this yet?

  • http://Website Paule

    Very pleasant to watch. I am an HTC Desire user and very happy with my phone. But the Galaxy S definitely is snappier and I like the notification bar with the toggles a lot. Samsung’s done a good job here.

    Thanks for the impressions!

  • http://Website Sasha

    Thank you for this video! I’ll be getting the Captivate over the iPhone 4 but was very unsure about the Touchwiz UI because it looks too much like an iPhone to me personally (the App drawer specifically)..and I definitely don’t like that. But the home screen you put on there looks loads better so I guess there is hope :)

    • http://Website SGS

      First thing i did with my Galaxy S was getting rid of iphoney touchshit.

      1. go to market and locate launcherPro
      2. install and set as default
      3. done

      example with some beautiful widgets, pure calendar, etc: http://robbiekhan.co.uk/root/android/desktops/blackwood_androided.png

      • karlotta

        @SGS, how did you revert to the standard Android lockscreen and the much nicer font for the clock? Was that a part of LauncherPro?

  • http://Website Derrick

    Clarification – the shortcuts in the status bar can’t be turned off?
    Also, is it possible to change them? I’d rather have a shortcut to turn GPS on/off, rather than bluetooth, and don’t see a point to having silent and vibrate – it’s always seemed redundant to me.

  • http://Website Bryan Podmeyer

    Could you possible show other launchers that would be available to use because im considering this or the HTC aria. I love sence and hate T.W 3.0 but the captivate is more powerful so im stuck. Please show T.V out and browser

    Keep up the great work!

    • http://Website ari-free

      watch the video 7:45 and on
      naa just watch the entire video

  • http://Website Alvin

    So, let me get this right, I can choose to turn off TouchWiz and use stock Android?

    • http://Website Sopranos Main Man

      Yes i would also like to know? If possible, how do you go about doing so?

  • http://Website Bobby Digital

    Awesome overview! Just what I was looking for.

    For all of the guys talking about the rooting, it has already been rooted, check out XDA.

    I am returning my iPhone 4 to get this instead, thats how awesome I think it is :)

  • http://Website Johan

    Since you can switch launcher it doesn’t really matter which one the phone comes with by default. I’d be more interested in knowing what changes Samsung has done to the apps you can’t replace easily with something more like vanilla defaults. For example the contacts, calendar and browser apps.

  • mkrmec

    phone unlock.. barf…

  • Time Pilot AKA

    “The handset maker has already released their source code and it appears the majority of Galaxy S devices have unlocked bootloaders that allow users to flash unsigned updates”

    This, coupled with the fact that Motorola recently decided to lock down their bootloader on the newest generation of Droids, is why I’ll be getting a Galaxy S in November. It’d be nice if I could pick up the Pro/Epic model, because I love keyboards, but I can’t switch to Sprint. Seriously considering buying that phone outright (w/o contract discounts) and walking over to Verizon for activation.

    Touchwiz still annoys me, but mostly because it lags the impressive hardware inside. This is not a problem of course, because a vanilla reflash will actually be plausible.

  • http://Website watbetch

    Samsung is said to have designed TouchWiz 3.0 to be easily adaptable to new versions of Android, much unlike Sense which is understandable because it is a heavier skin.

    TouchWiz 3.0 adds a really nice Blue/Black color scheme that I love so I’m perfectly OK with it.

  • http://Website rtornado

    nice review on the interface…speaking of the dialer, how is this “phone” at making calls? how do the voices sound, is the speakerphone loud enough, etc??

  • dzitran

    Thanks for posting this!! I was very reluctant on getting the Epic 4G cuz of TouchWiz but it definitely looks like Sprint/Samsung will be getting my money.

  • http://Website Sgt_Bilbo

    Thanks for the walkthrough! I’ve been eager to see this phone in action and the handful of videos available give more of a look at the physical phone instead of the interface. This was extremely informative and makes me very content with my upcoming purchase of this phone on Sunday. Personally, I must say, I do like the iPhone-esque app drawer, as I don’t care for the infinite scrolling of stock Android, but partly because I’m used to my iPhone (can’t wait to sell this thing on eBay!) Looking forward to the TV-Out demo!

  • http://Website tk

    My problem isn’t the home launcher (i’m fine with using LauncherPro or ADW), but the fact that these companies end up making their own apps for Contacts, Calender, Browser, etc.. which in most cases I like Google’s stock versions instead (only exception is the Messaging app, which is horrendously ugly). For instance in HTC’s Contacts app, its ‘quick contact’ doesn’t support Twitter sync (when you tap the profile pic and all the different communication options pop up). Stuff like that.

    I wish Google just put all their apps on the Market and let anyone who has a phone that’s supported by Google (the “with Google” tag) download and use it instead of whatever comes on the phone.

    • http://Website ari-free

      Lots of people complain about google’s apps, especially the music player. OEM’s aren’t going to just accept google’s shortcomings for the sake of purity.

      • http://Website Johan

        They could just sell the phones with their replacement apps and then release a separate rom you can switch to, that is just vanilla android, for those that prefer that. They wouldn’t even need to unlock the bootloader.

        What’s wrong with the built-in music player?

  • http://n/a a b

    …really unfortunate phone. Just bought it for my fiancee and there are LOTS of bugs. For example, home screen sometimes goes black (except for notification bar), and can only be fixed with a hard reboot. Also, battery life is not that great. The battery issue is exacerbated by the fact that the screen brightness setting DOES NOT WORK. For example, to conserve battery you would set the brightness to the lowest level. However, whenever you pull down the notification bar, the screen brightness increases to about 80% !! There are also issues with the GPS operating incorrectly or failing to acquire a lock.

    Perhaps the above issues can be solved with a software update. So let’s review the things that cannot be fixed with a software upgrade. The phone feels light, plasticy and generally just very very cheap. It’s got flex and I seriously question how long a phone like this will survive…even with a hardcase, which you CANNOT even buy yet. Lastly, let’s talk about the UI. TouchWiz UI is complete crap. I mean it looks awful. It’s slow and sluggish. I really wish handset makers would stop this skinning crap. The default android UI (I am currently using an N1 with Froyo) is beautiful. It’s minimalist, fast and intuitive. This TouchWiz iPhone looking gargabe is an eyesore and cost the phone some very real performance.

    This micro-review hurts to write as a self-avowed Android fanboy. I’ve owned a G1 dev phone, and am currently using a Nexus 1. As an embedded engineer, general phone aficionado and N1 owner I am VERY disappointed with this phone. Avoid at all costs. Garbage.

    • http://Website JimDog

      I can’t comment on the black screen (never happens on mine) or the battery life (it’s awesome to me, but I’m coming from an G1 so anything would have seemed awesome). But I *might* be able to help with the brightness issue.

      I noticed that even though I had turned off “auto adjust” for the brightness that it still would go bright or dim on its own from time to time. What I found is, there is an additional setting under Menu->settings->sound and display called “Power saving mode” according to the description it will “Save power by analyzing image and adjusting LCD brightness”. Ever since I unchecked that, the screen stays at the brightness I set it. Hope that helps.

      I personally LOVE this new phone (I have the Vibrant on T-Mobile). The only thing I do agree with you on is the GPS. It is no where near as accurate as my old G1. But it still works and is accurate “enough” for me so far. Plus I’ve read online that Samsung will be releasing a software fix for the GPS issues.

  • http://phonefreek.posterous.com Phonefreek

    Repeating events that have been modified are all screwed up when you sync your google account to your phone. Why cant “google phones” seem to figure out their own stuff! The calendar simply does not reflect what I see when on my computer. Annoying!