I have had a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with me for the purpose of comparing vanilla Android Jelly Bean UI with the latest version of Samsung’s custom interface, TouchWiz Nature UX. The Galaxy Nexus runs Android 4.2.1 and is the pure Android experience. I must say that what Samsung has done with TouchWiz Nature UX is brilliant. The beauty of having the two user interfaces side by side for comparison is that I get to see how really ugly stock Android still is. I’m sorry, but Android remains ugly. Cripes! TouchWiz Nature UX, on the other hand, is beautiful, and more user-friendly. I will go into the details below.
The first thing that I noticed is that the layout of TouchWiz Nature UX is largely no different from that of stock Android. Samsung did not go all out to change how things work, so the two are similar in many respects. For example, if you have used HTC’s Sense UI, you will agree that HTC went all out to hide the ugly stock Android interface. Not so Samsung. Here, we see neat refinements and enhancements, but not an entire over-riding of the stock interface.
Icons And Graphics
With TouchWiz Nature UX, icons and graphics have been touched up and some of the hideous ones on stock Android changed totally to something much nicer. The icons for Messaging and Contacts are good examples.
Eye Candy & Effects
This new TouchWiz has really subtle and nice animated touches like ripple effects when you touch the display. There is nothing heavy implemented. It is all about smoothness and fluidity here.
Take the drop-down menu on stock Jelly Bean for starters. Dragging it down reveals a blank slate, with an icon at the top right corner. When you tap that icon, you are presented with options for Owner, Brightness, Settings, Wi-Fi, Network, Battery, Airplane Mode and Bluetooth. Why hide those functions away under that extra layer? On TouchWiz Nature UX, all those functions and more are available directly on the drop-down menu. Very accessible and more user-friendly.
Using the new TouchWiz Nature UX is a joy. Everything is fast, smooth and fluid, and everything looks better than the stock Android Jelly Bean user interface. I will add here that all the extra features and improved user interface have not impacted negatively on battery performance either. You can see the details of the battery test that I conducted on the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Before this, I was not a fan of TouchWiz. The previous iterations just never did it for me. I have always found stock Android to be ugly too, and having compared TouchWiz nature UX to Jelly Bean’s stock interface, that opinion still holds firm. Android is ugly. TouchWiz Nature UX makes Android look much better without altering it significantly. This is different from HTC’s approach of radically altering things via Sense UI such that the device is almost unrecognisable as Android until you dig deep into the Settings menu. Both approaches have their merits and their fans.
Finally, TouchWiz has earned my love. It makes Android OS more usable and more beautiful without impacting on performance. I really do like what Samsung has done with TouchWiz Nature UX.