Samsung wants to make TouchWiz as smooth as pure Android

The Galaxy S5. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android.

The Galaxy S5. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android.

Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface for Android is universally mocked for being bloated and slow, but it would appear the South Korean company is finally set to do something about it. Sources say it won’t just be overhauling its hardware for the upcoming Galaxy S6, but also its software as well as it aims to deliver an experience as smooth as pure Android.

TouchWiz isn’t just a skin on top of Android; almost every element of the user interface has been modified by Samsung in some way, and it comes with a whole bunch of Samsung apps and features — the vast majority of which are never used by the average consumer.

It doesn’t just make for a poor user experience, but it means that even on the latest hardware, TouchWiz can be slow and inefficient. Many Android fans — including me — will avoid Samsung devices just because of the software, or use third-party ROMs like CyanogenMod to provide a better experience.

Despite this, Samsung has stuck by its software for many years now, but with its smartphone sales falling, the company has to make changes. It has already shuffled its executive team following the criticism it received for the Galaxy S5, and recent rumors have claimed it is working hard on the design of the Galaxy S6 to make it just as pretty as its rivals.

Its changes may not stop there, either.

“We are aiming to get rid of unnecessary functions and simplify our UI at the level of Google’s Nexus 6,” an unnamed insider told Business Korea, hinting at a major overhaul of Samsung’s software. Not only does this indicate that there could be changes to the design of TouchWiz, but also its features and functionality.

It’s highly unlikely Samsung will adopt the same approach as a company like Motorola, which is to stick to mostly stock software with Google’s own design, and just build in a few custom apps. But sources say the aim is to make TouchWiz as fast and as lightweight as pure Android.

That could mean scaling back some of its design changes and completely removing some of the pre-installed bloatware.

This rumor follows a January 2014 report from Recode that claimed Google had successfully persuaded Samsung to scale back the changes it was making to Android. One source promised “a huge change” to TouchWiz, but a year on, that’s yet to materialize.

Of course, Samsung cannot make major changes to its software overnight when millions of people around the world rely on it. It’s certainly possible, then, that the company has been working on a TouchWiz revamp for the last 12 months, and that the Galaxy S6 could finally introduce it.

I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed.