Samsung’s smartphone interface is currently agreed by many users to be in a pretty good state. One UI 3.0 has many features but is not too cumbersome, which the company promises to update very well. But Samsung’s interface hasn’t always been like that, especially for those who have been through the early days of TouchWiz.
If you want to see how Samsung got its start in the smartphone industry or simply how far the company’s software features have evolved, then take a look at Samsung’s smartphone interface evolution.
TouchWiz’s Early Days
Although TouchWiz is considered to be tied to Android, the early days of this interface actually started before Samsung adopted it with Google’s operating system. TouchWiz 1.0 was installed on Samsung Solstice in 2009, followed by version 2.0 on Solstice 2 in 2010.
When used with Google’s Android operating system, TouchWiz went to the 3rd version. TouchWiz 3.0 came out with the first Galaxy S in 2010. From the very beginning, Samsung oriented TouchWiz away from stock Android with Lots of custom customizations. For example, the original TouchWiz supported home screen reordering, custom shortcuts, and widgets not available on other devices.
Samsung continues to improve TouchWiz with version 4.0 for the famous Galaxy S2, TouchWiz 4.0 based on Android 23 Gingerbread, then Galaxy S3 with version based on Android 4.0. Many “genuine” features are introduced such as gesture control in the browser and photo gallery, S Voice assistant, picture-in-picture and split screen.
Samsung also changed the naming on the Galaxy S3’s TouchWiz, the interface is called “TouchWiz Nature UX”. One of the most famous effects is the ripples on the lock screen. While this may sound commonplace these days, at that time, such a lock screen effect was very novel.
Although these two smartphones were very well received and kicked off a huge growth in Samsung’s smartphone market, noticeable signs of a feature change have begun to appear. In addition to Google’s software, Samsung has preloaded its flagships with a growing range of in-house apps, such as ChatOn, Social Hub, Music Hub, and others.
TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0: The appearance of cumbersome features
With the move to TouchWiz Nature UX, Samsung has begun making a series of user interface tweaks to UX 2.0 and the Galaxy S4. The company introduced some interesting innovations like eye tracking feature to automatically scroll web pages. But Samsung’s features began to be seen as being included as “advertisement”, many reviewers criticized the S4 for cumbersome features, such as Air Gesture, Smart Pause and S Translator, which made the menus settings are increasingly difficult to navigate.
Samsung continues to add features to the next versions. Security Samsung Knox has arrived with Nature UX 2.5, as well as a one-handed mode for the Galaxy Note 3. Nature UX 3.0 has stripped down the interface and streamlined the settings menus a bit for the Galaxy S5. But Samsung couldn’t resist adding the Toolbox feature and the My Magazine news aggregator to their interface.
Samsung returned to the traditional naming scheme on TouchWiz 5.0 for the Galaxy S6. And with a new piece of hardware, Samsung has taken a new approach to software. Samsung has removed the noisy UI sounds, simplified the various settings, and separated the icons for Multiwindow and Toolbox. Samsung also removed some less essential apps and took more direct inspiration from Android Lollipop.
TouchWiz has been quite “famous” for cramming too many features, but Samsung has finally noticed this. Samsung continues to improve its software with TouchWiz 6.0 and TouchWiz Grace UX, so that the Galaxy S6 and S7 are better received before moving to the next generation of interfaces.
With TouchWiz almost completely different from the early days, Samsung made a name change to the design interface for the Galaxy S8, called Samsung Experience. Samsung Experience runs on Android 7.0 Nougat and 8.0 Oreo, and is installed on many Samsung smartphones at various price points.
The new interface has enhanced Samsung’s colors and icons, and is more harmonious and has more in common with Google’s vision than ever before. However, Samsung retains a fair amount of customization, including Edge UX from the Galaxy S6, Always on Display functionality, Game Launcher, and other existing elements. Even the Back button has been changed to the right and not the left, according to Google’s native operating system.
Samsung Experience introduces Bixby virtual assistant for the first time as a core part of Samsung’s ecosystem. This interface also introduces Samsung Dex, turning the Galaxy S8 into a mobile PC-like work environment – although neither of these really become hot features. Subsequent updates to Android Oreo made minor changes and improved some features, such as Bixby 2.0 and Secure Folder, but the experience was mostly the same as the original release.
Samsung has learned its lesson with TouchWiz. Users have a wider selection of features they want to actually see and use with Samsung Experience. While still heavier than the “native Android” that experts seem to love, Samsung’s user interface continues to give them its own edge in the market.
With Android 9.0 Pie, Samsung once again changed its UX naming. Samsung Experience 10.0 beta became One UI by the time it launched with the flagship Galaxy S10. Once again, Samsung has tweaked its user interface, making it cleaner and more user-friendly than previous iterations. In fact, ease of use for large screens is one of the key driving forces behind One UI. Samsung has tweaked its menus and apps, moving key user interface elements within the reach of a thumb.
One UI retains most of the features available in Samsung Experience. Dex has been further improved, a system-wide dark mode is introduced, and a virtual navigation button can be swapped for swipe gestures. The Bixby button can also be reassigned to new functions.
One UI 2.0 has been ported to Android 10, adding Digital Wellbeing, Wireless Dex in One UI 2.5, some minor UI tweaks, Dynamic Lock Screen and some other features. But the One UI interface has remained largely unchanged and has become quite good for these features.
At the time of writing, One UI 3.1 is Samsung’s latest version – with a few changes. The notification panel has been blurred, the new volume control interface has been placed on the right side, and Samsung has made the animations smoother. But overall, it looks like Samsung and its customers have been pretty happy with One UI over the past three years.
From TouchWiz to Samsung Experience and One UI, Samsung’s Android-based interface is at the forefront of the latest features. In the past, TouchWiz has been mocked for being too cumbersome. But Samsung hasn’t really given up on its love of new features and options yet. Instead, the company has gotten much better at improving the core user interface experience, while still letting goofy users discover all that Samsung has to offer on their own.