The software is probably the most important part of your phone. It’s what lets you navigate through menus, run apps and, basically, use your phone. But when it comes to the Android operating system (OS), not all phones are equal.
Each phone maker adds its own user interface (UI) to make their phones look and feel different to the rest. And with the new Galaxy S6 and One M9, Samsung and HTC have updated their UIs. So let’s take a look at what’s new.
SAMSUNG TOUCHWIZ FOR GALAXY S6
Samsung has made big improvements to its TouchWiz UI on the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. Compared to the software that came on the Galaxy S5 last year, it’s now much simpler, better looking and has a few new features.
In the past, Samsung’s settings have seemed incredibly complicated because the list of options never seemed to end. Now the menus have been trimmed back and laid out in a way that makes it much easier to find what you’re looking for. And to make things even simpler, a lot of symbols have been replaced with simple words, so the three dots that are used to indicate menus are now the word ‘more’.
Samsung has taken some parts of Material Design, Google’s style guidelines that launched as part of Android Lollipop, to make stock apps like the dialler and contacts look a lot cleaner than they used to. But Samsung’s app icons only seem to have had a half redesign, so don’t quite match the icons for Google’s apps. Overall, though, the new TouchWiz looks a lot slicker than before.
MAKE IT PERSONAL
If you’re still not a fan of the new look TouchWiz, the software now gives you the option to completely change its design. A new Themes app lets you change the style of app icons, colours of every menu and screen, and your homepage background. Plus Samsung plans to get designers to create chic new themes soon.
There’s also some handy new stuff in TouchWiz to help you be more productive. Samsung’s Knox security lets you have two profiles on your phone, one super secure for work and the other for personal use, and split screen lets you have two apps open side by side.
HTC SENSE 7
HTC made a relatively small update to its Sense UI when it launched on the new One M9. There are some nice new design features and some handy personalisation apps, but Sense 7 feels pretty similar to older versions of the UI. Why mess with something that works, right?
HTC has chosen to keep the new notification panel from Android Lollipop. It looks clear and simple and has handy quick settings that you reach by pulling down from the top of the screen a second time, or pulling down with two fingers once. That’s not the only bit of Material Design on Sense 7; the app icons have been updated to fit in with the new style too.
Like Samsung, HTC has brought in a new Themes app to let you personalise the look of your phone, but the HTC app is much more powerful. You can easily create your own themes, rather than just downloading premade ones.
Got a photo you really like? Just set it as your wallpaper and Sense 7 will pick out a few key colours from it and use them to customise menus and even app icons. You can then select styles for icons and even sounds to create something unique.
THE PERSONALISATION KEEPS COMING IN SENSE 7
There’s a new contextual widget on your homepage that serves up the apps you want when you want them. So if you always check BBC News at 8:30am, it’ll appear on your homescreen just in time. And if you spend all day at work on your emails, Sense 7 will bring that app forward when you get to the office. It’s clever enough to customise up to eight apps depending on where you are and what time it is.
Samsung and HTC have both made some really useful improvements to their software with their new phones. But what do you think? Is TouchWiz on the Galaxy S6 better than Sense 7 on the One M9, or is HTC’s UI still king? Let us know in the comments below.