Samsung’s ‘TouchWiz overlay for Android is one that often gets a lot of flack. This is essentially a selection of added UI elements that they package with the version of Android that comes on their phones in order to provide extra features. In theory that might sound good, but for many the changes only distract from the ‘stock Android’ experience that you might get on a Nexus device, slow down the phones and make them less visually pleasing to boot.
But before you write off TouchWiz completely – as is the trendy thing to do at the moment – try looking beyond the surface at what some of those features do, and at some of the less obvious benefits that they may have for people who perhaps don’t have such easy access as they once did.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink
A common complaint with regards to TouchWiz is that it includes too much ‘bloatware’. This is the additional software that comes with their devices that can’t be removed and that often just gets in the way.
But while you might find yourself ignoring 75% of what TouchWiz has to offer, almost everyone is still likely to find at least something they like. Often this will just make the experience that little bit more comfortable and have the occasional moment of usefulness, but in some instances it may do no less than completely transform the experience for those who might have had difficulty using the devices before.
Here are some examples of the features that might just prove to be life-savers for disabled Samsung fans…
Samsung’s latest phones come with a range of fantastic voice controls that can be used to launch various functions. For instance, it is now possible to use the camera app by simply saying snap.
This is very handy for those people who might want to take photos of themselves from a distance, but at the same time it can also be useful for people who perhaps can’t reach around to hold their phone and press the photo button at the same time. Another feature allows you to launch apps from the lockscreen simply by saying their names out loud.
Air view, air command and other such options have been popular since the S4 and are incredibly useful for people who want to interact with their phone when their hands are wet for instance. Simply by gesturing in front of your phone you can now swipe through web pages or images which means you don’t actually have to come into contact with it at all to do most things. One feature even lets you control web page scrolling by simply tilting your head down, which is really rather incredible.
Who this is also useful for though, is the person who doesn’t have free hands to use because of a disability, or who is using their phone propped up next to them while they’re in bed.
Big Phones for Everyone
Large phones are becoming ever more popular as the hugely successful ‘Note’ series of devices has proven. However while there are many benefits to owning large screened devices, practicality is not one of them; and this is especially true for those who are already facing mobility issues.
Fortunately though, the latest Note 3 has a number of features that make it more friendly for one handed use. One of the best of these is a well-hidden feature that allows you to shrink the entire screen and whatever is running on it. This then allows your device to mimic a smaller phone meaning that you can reach to any point that you might need to with one thumb.
Another great feature is the one handed keyboard. This has been around for a while on a number of devices, but still it’s a nice addition that makes the Note 3 a device for everyone, not just those with massive hands.
Finally there are the features designed specifically for accessibility. One of these is ‘no hands mode’ which instantly reads out notifications and texts for instance so that you don’t have to look away when you’re driving.
Whatever you think of TouchWiz then, don’t dismiss it out of hand, and recognise that for some people it’s a real life saver.