Dec 29, 2011
The Galaxy S line of phones and the Galaxy Tab, one of the first mass-market Android tablets, may be old news, but there are still millions of users with these devices (this author included) and Samsung has at least seen fit to upgrade these devices to Gingerbread. However, with Ice Cream Sandwich rolling out, it appears as if Samsung cannot or will not be putting the latest tasty Android treat into these users’ hands.
The problem appears to be partially self-inflicted; namely, TouchWiz is the problem. The devices appear to lack some of the space for both Ice Cream Sandwich and for TouchWiz customizations that Samsung wants to offer. In an attempt to have their cake and eat it too, Samsung apparently wants to try and emulate some ICS enhancements by offering them through the Market to Gingerbread-toting Galaxy S/Tab users. It’s not Ice Cream Sandwich, but it is at least a gesture.
However, here’s the dirty little secret: Ice Cream Sandwich can fit on these devices. Enterprising Android hackers have gotten early builds of Ice Cream Sandwich running on devices like the Samsung Captivate. The catch of course is that they don’t feature TouchWiz or any other Samsung customizations; of course, advanced users may be more likely to want to ditch them for a stock experience, using their own preferred launcher instead of TouchWiz, and ditching any unnecessary Samsung apps.
So, basically, Samsung is going to be depriving users of the latest pure Android experience, because of their own attempts to improve on it. These attempts can easily be removed by users enterprising enough to hack their devices, but users having to hack their devices and violate their warranties in order to get the best experience with their phones seems paradoxical. Of course, who knows – Samsung could definitely find a way to get TouchWiz working with ICS given the space concerns. Or, they could decide that giving users the stock experience as Google intended is the way to go. However, the big manufacturers feel like they have to apply their own interfaces to their phones for better or for worse, so expect TouchWiz to live on, even if it means limiting the number of users getting the latest Android updates.