If you’re anything like me and you’ve fallen in love with Ice Cream Sandwich’s looks, then seeing what Samsung has done to it may be a bit of a heartbreaker. SamMobile managed to get their hands on what seems to be an developer build of Android 4.0 with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI running on top of it, and have loaded it up on a Galaxy S II to play with.
Frankly, I think TouchWiz just ruined everything.
On the one hand, I can’t blame Samsung for wanting to bring TouchWiz to Ice Cream Sandwich. The UI has, for better or worse, appeared on nearly all of the company’s flagship smartphones and one could argue that it has become part of a Samsung device’s identity.
But here’s the problem: Ice Cream Sandwich doesn’t really look anything like the Android versions of the past, and that’s part of what makes it so appealing. It oozes a sense of freshness that I as a long-time Android user find reinvigorating, and Samsung wants to cover it up with an updated version of the same UI we’ve seen for years.
Let it breathe, guys! I’m not saying that TouchWiz needs to die, but Samsung should poke a few holes in it and let some of Ice Cream Sandwich’s style show through.
Now in fairness, TouchWiz doesn’t seem to rid the device of ICS’s design flair entirely. The Roboto typeface is still there, as are a few tinges of neon blue scattered throughout the device. And yes, all of ICS’s lauded improvements haven’t been messed with — the fast app switcher and Face Unlock are present and accounted for.
For all I know, I could be in the minority. Maybe most people would rather have bright friendly icons rather than a vaguely Tron-inspired design. But visually, Ice Cream Sandwich is a pretty bold step for Google — why not add to it instead of just covering it up wholesale?
SamMobile notes that the build that they played with is dated December 7 — there’s really no way to tell how far along Samsung is in the process, although a few force close issues means it’s not quite ready for primetime yet. Motorola and Sony Ericsson have outlined the amount of sheer work that goes into preparing an Ice Cream Sandwich update for their devices, and it’s likely that some things will change before Samsung’s update is pushed out. I’m not holding my breath for a massive redesign, but nevertheless, a nerd like me can dream.
If you’ve got a Galaxy S II and nothing to lose, SamMobile has made the ROM available for you adventurous users to download and install. Be careful though: it’s not meant to be a daily driver, and not everything works the way it should.