October 18, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Software: Suddenly, you’re in
My relationship with Touchwiz started out as one of frustration and disgust. It slowly elevated to one of mutual understanding and tolerance. Before I knew what hit me, I suddenly grew to, dare I say, like Touchwiz. How did this madness happen? I’ve praised the superior notification window, music player, and customized launcher in the past, but I’ve always quickly taken away points for sluggishness and being too iPhone-ish. Not only did that not prove to be an issue here, but I quickly adapted to enjoy the Android 2.3-based software that Samsung has added.
The Touchwiz launcher now moves at its fastest speed ever, even allowing users to quickly jump between the six app windows. Another small but welcome change is the ability to have multiple wallpaper and lockscreen viewing options. And instead of just skinning Android apps to make them prettier, Samsung actually pre-loaded apps that you may actually use. Busy bees can use Polaris Office as a decent mobile Office suite for document reading and creation. Shutterbugs can use Photo Editor as a simple tool for fixing image quality and adding effects.
Perhaps my favorite change to the Galaxy S II is Voice Talk, a more sophisticated version of Vlingo that powers voice commands for sending text messages, emails, search queries, memos, and Facebook or Twitter updates. No, it’s not advanced enough to match the iPhone’s Siri feature-for-feature, but it performs all of the tasks that people really need for voice commands. In driving mode, it even reads back notifications and enables a response without ever having to touch the phone. I’ve never been so pleased with Vlingo.
Wait, am I praising a phone company for bloatware? Yes, but don’t worry, it’s a once in a million occurrence. Before the ink could dry on the ‘Thank You’ note meant for the subtle changes and small utilities that might actually come in handy, we spotted plenty to complain about. The aforementioned apps were things that greatly enhance the Galaxy S II’s capabilities, something I cannot say for apps like 411, Asphalt, Netflix, Slacker Radio, and Zinio Reader. We’ve actually praised the last apps mentioned multiple times, but since they all are subscription-based and have a bevy of competitors that someone might prefer, T-Mobile shouldn’t be forcing users to keep these items on their phones.
The most perplexing of all, the default browser doesn’t even let me delete bookmarks! Maybe I don’t want CNN and Facebook in my bookmarks folder, so who is T-Mobile to tell me “This bookmark cannot be deleted?”