By Adam Doud | October 17, 2013 7:00 AM
Samsung sure does love its features. Air view, Air glide, Air biscuit, all of them contribute to a skin on top of Android full of gimmicks and bloat. Oh, and fun. Of course fun. Sure. But the problem with these features is, they take up a lot of room. Like a lot of room. Samsung’s Touchwiz takes up to four times the space on internal memory storage as stock Android.
In Samsung’s case, this isn’t the Greek tragedy that it seems to be because Samsung is also famous for allowing expandable storage via the memory card. All the same there’s only so much you can do with memory cards, and if you go with a 16 GB GS4, and 2+ Gigs are already accounted for, well, that’s a few episodes of MacGyver that you’re going to have to live without, at least locally stored.
The other problem all these features that Samsung loves to pack into its bag of tricks is lag. While Samsung is famous for being feature-packed, our own reviewers have noted a bit of lag during every day use of the GS4 and the Note III, both of which are supposed to be the flagships of the brand. Laggy flagships are a bit of a no-no in tech circles. Clearly in Samsung’s case, it’s not a deal breaker – Samsung smartphones are still flying off the shelves. But still, it’s not exactly something to be proud of.
Now, our reviewers and techy type folks know that all you have to do is disable these features, and voilà, lag disappears like your crazy Uncle Victor when it’s time to pay his tab. But there they are, disabled, and still sucking up space. Sure, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “The features take up less than 2GB. More like barely a couple hundred megs you tone-deaf moron!” Sure, the features themselves don’t take up that much space by themselves. But they do take up space. But, what if they didn’t have to?
Android is a really cool operating system. It turns out you can make these little program things calls “apps” that can run on it. The coolest part about these “apps” is you can install them if you want them and, more importantly for purposes of this editorial, you can not install them if you don’t want them. Mind = blown.
So here’s Samsung with this truck load of “Features” that it wants to dump in your driveway. They’re going to block in your car and ruining your basketball hoop, and you just have to stand there and take it. You can turn them off if you want, but they’re still going to be there, lurking, like a priceless artifact just waiting for you to swap it with a bag of sand so it can drop a boulder on you.
Apps would be much smaller, much more portable, and much more selective. Users could pick and choose what “Samsung Exclusive” apps they want to utilize and which they want to ignore. It’s the Android way. Rather than Samsung assuming everyone will want to use everything, they should just develop them separately and let the Android philosophy of customization and personalization take its course.
Not the first
Other OEMs have built a similar model. Nokia, Samsung, and HTC all have exclusive Windows Phone apps that they offer, which could be just bundled in as features. Heck, even Nokia’s ProCam App is downloadable from the Windows Phone Marketplace. Granted, yes, it’s pre-installed on several models, but if Nokia can manage to separate that key feature from it’s operating system, surely Samsung can find it in its heart to give users the choice of hovering their finger over a text message or not.
It would also make updating those features easier. Rather than having to manipulate the OS, simply push out an app update. Done. Easy Peasey.
That’s what it’s all about
It would definitely take some work, but it would be worth it to the consumers, and after all, aren’t the consumers what we’re all doing here? Samsung could also certainly stand to lose some weight in the OS department, and consumers would love to see a few extra pounds off the bloatware department. It really is a win-win.
Of course that’s assuming that Samsung can step up and do what’s right. Or at least what I, and several of my colleagues have suggested would be right. It’s possible Samsung cannot imagine a world in which you can’t scroll web pages with your eyes. It’s possible. Slightly loony, but possible. But at the end of the day, Samsung chose to run with Android and that’s how Android rolls. So roll, Samsung.