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  # 984709 12-Feb-2014 07:33
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My partner has a Moto G, which is fairly close to stock android. One thing I don't like is the basic things I use all the time, toggling wifi on and off. I think it requires a swipe down then a long press of the wifi toggle. I don't think the mobile data works like that, you have to go into settings to do it. Compare that to my S4 which is quick and easy, for a function I use many times a day, the S4 wins. I know you can get third party toggles, but I haven't found any nice ones. I also like the Samsung settings.

I used a script to remove most of the Samsung bloat from my phone ages ago, I forget which one. I kept only the ones I use, like S health, which is actually a decent pedometer - it takes into account steps and altitude, so it can track hills and stairs.

I considered going GE, but I find TouchWiz just makes things easier, so I didn't bother.

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  # 984710 12-Feb-2014 07:44
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^^^ try switch pro widget relatively customizable with the option to have on screen widgets and or have it sit in pull down notification area

 
 
 
 


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  # 984724 12-Feb-2014 08:18

Dairyxox: Funnily enough I quite like Samsungs version of android. Don't know about all the s-features bloatware, but some of the small customisations they have make it seem much more complete than stock android.

I know you can fix these niggles with apps, hacks, & customisations, but I don't want to have to do that stuff with a phone (why I like apple, when I'm done 'fixing' computers all week, I don't want to have to come home & fix my phone, I want it to just work.)


This. I don't personally get the appeal of vanilla Android & find it almost irredeemably dull - but that's likely a side effect of my being a huge phablet fan & Google's version of the OS being poorly optimised for that form factor.

It's an excellent platform to build better things off of, just doesn't interest me much in its base form. The Google Experience/Google Now Launcher on the Nexus 5 is a prime example of doing all the things wrong.

Surprised you didn't mention the LG G2, that's a stellar piece of kit, & well supported by CyanogenMod. I shouldn't expect the S5 or One II to be vastly better spec-wise, either. Suspect we'll be looking at 1080p & Snapdragon 800 for the first half of this year, with the second half jumping to 2K/QHD/Snapdragon 805. Both should be solid, though, they always are.




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  # 984744 12-Feb-2014 09:03
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Agree with Tim, dairyxox and NikT and find the GE/AOSP rather boring and like Tim find the pull down menu and buttons far easier to use than mucking aroud with GE and AOSP to switch GPS , data etc off and on. I know we can download an app to do anything but why when you can just have one device that has software designed for phone to do that, less issues.

Also like Tim I remove the bloat I don't want but do find some apps lag on TW compared to AOSP but I'm comfortable with that.

As with most things its what you like or used to and with current mobile offering we have a plethora of choice and with Android we can customise it to the max if we want.

Keen to see the new phones this year. The LG sounds good as does new HTC then we will get the Iphone 6, a good year ahead




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  # 984782 12-Feb-2014 09:22
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^^^ Agreed

I do not understand the appeal of using 'vanilla' android. If you are only using the phone for texting and calling, then vanilla probably better.

For Android 4.3 and above, you can always disable those apps that you don't like - therefore no need to root etc etc etc.

In my experience, Sony has skin that is probably the most simplest, close to vanilla but with lots of great apps included in it.







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  # 984789 12-Feb-2014 09:33
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nakedmolerat: In my experience, Sony has skin that is probably the most simplest, close to vanilla but with lots of great apps included in it.


I have the current Xperia Tablet Z and would drop the Sony skin in a heat beat for pure Kit Kat. Will almost certainly replace it with a Nexus 8 ... if and when it releases.

The appeal of pure Kit Kat to me is that it is (1) very clean interface (2) faster (3) really great for users deep into the google ecosystem.

The last point, is probably the main reason I love pure android. I am a big user of gmail, play music, Keep and Drive. No other phone came close to giving me the seamless interface into my google than pure kit kat.



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  # 984799 12-Feb-2014 09:49
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dafman: (1) very clean interface (2) faster (3) really great for users deep into the google ecosystem.


1. I dont quite understand this point. You can always arrange icon/widgets. Care to expand on this point? (staring at my galaxy note 3)

2. Faster? Really? I have nexus 5 side by side with my galaxy note 3. How do I test this?

3. I have gmail, chrome, hangout, google play, music, movie, drive - i am not on Google+. How deep do you have to be to make android vanilla works better than my samsung touchwiz?





 
 
 
 




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  # 984905 12-Feb-2014 11:11
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nakedmolerat:
dafman: (1) very clean interface (2) faster (3) really great for users deep into the google ecosystem.


1. I dont quite understand this point. You can always arrange icon/widgets. Care to expand on this point? (staring at my galaxy note 3)

2. Faster? Really? I have nexus 5 side by side with my galaxy note 3. How do I test this?

3. I have gmail, chrome, hangout, google play, music, movie, drive - i am not on Google+. How deep do you have to be to make android vanilla works better than my samsung touchwiz?


1. Interface. I accept it's a personal thing - but I really think Kit Kit has a wonderful 'clean' look to it - the font, the size of the icons, the menu structure. But, yes, agree, icon arrangement can be pretty much replicated whatever the skin.

2. Speed. Put a note 3 running pure kit kat alongside one running TW. The former is likely to be faster. The N5 was blistering fast ... but yes, so are the new skinned phones running the latest chips.

3. Google eco-system. Again, subjective I guess, but navigating through google apps just feels more integrated in the N5 than in my old S2 TW.

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  # 985060 12-Feb-2014 13:51
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nakedmolerat:
dafman: (1) very clean interface (2) faster (3) really great for users deep into the google ecosystem.


1. I dont quite understand this point. You can always arrange icon/widgets. Care to expand on this point? (staring at my galaxy note 3)

2. Faster? Really? I have nexus 5 side by side with my galaxy note 3. How do I test this?

3. I have gmail, chrome, hangout, google play, music, movie, drive - i am not on Google+. How deep do you have to be to make android vanilla works better than my samsung touchwiz?


1. Touchwiz is still very inconsistent (seriously that colour scheme), AOSP since 4.4 is a lot more consistent with colouring and layouts.

2. HTC One GPe, none of the lag or stuttering I've experienced with the S4, scrolling through the home screens or app drawer pages is just sad on Touchwiz.

3. Native Google email/exchange app destroys all others. Music integration on lockscreen. The new file picker is tied into everything Google. The Google Now intergration with the new Launcher is fantastic.

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  # 985091 12-Feb-2014 14:06

bradstewart:

1. Touchwiz is still very inconsistent (seriously that colour scheme), AOSP since 4.4 is a lot more consistent with colouring and layouts.

2. HTC One GPe, none of the lag or stuttering I've experienced with the S4, scrolling through the home screens or app drawer pages is just sad on Touchwiz.

3. Native Google email/exchange app destroys all others. Music integration on lockscreen. The new file picker is tied into everything Google. The Google Now intergration with the new Launcher is fantastic.


Touchwiz has inherited many of 4.4.x's UI enhancements - white status bar icons, rounded toast notifications, fonts including Roboto Light & Condensed, transition animations, + the full album art/music controls on the lockscreen. I could personally do without the blues & yellows in the UI, & a number of icons could be a lot better, but other than that, I don't have too much issue with it anymore. Nothing else comes close for functionality.

When I was last using exchange, I found Samsung's email app (IIRC it's a whitelabel offering from Seven) superior to Google's as it utilised more Exchange features & had better previews of each message. Has that changed significantly of late?

As for the Google Now integration in the GPE/GN launcher, it took all the wrong pages out of iOS' book circa 2009. giant icons, useless 4x4 grid, breaks the muscle memory & UX of every vanilla Android launcher prior by enforcing Google Now as the only page to the left, app drawer snaps back to page one on close (They did just fix that, to their credit), changed the ICS+ widgets-in-app-drawer UX back to one that's incredibly counter-intuitive, adding a new page is a terrible experience...

I really hate that piece of software & consider it much more offensive than everything Samsung has done of late. JMO. :)




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  # 985106 12-Feb-2014 14:19
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NikT:
bradstewart:

1. Touchwiz is still very inconsistent (seriously that colour scheme), AOSP since 4.4 is a lot more consistent with colouring and layouts.

2. HTC One GPe, none of the lag or stuttering I've experienced with the S4, scrolling through the home screens or app drawer pages is just sad on Touchwiz.

3. Native Google email/exchange app destroys all others. Music integration on lockscreen. The new file picker is tied into everything Google. The Google Now intergration with the new Launcher is fantastic.


Touchwiz has inherited many of 4.4.x's UI enhancements - white status bar icons, rounded toast notifications, fonts including Roboto Light & Condensed, transition animations, + the full album art/music controls on the lockscreen. I could personally do without the blues & yellows in the UI, & a number of icons could be a lot better, but other than that, I don't have too much issue with it anymore. Nothing else comes close for functionality.

When I was last using exchange, I found Samsung's email app (IIRC it's a whitelabel offering from Seven) superior to Google's as it utilised more Exchange features & had better previews of each message. Has that changed significantly of late?

As for the Google Now integration in the GPE/GN launcher, it took all the wrong pages out of iOS' book circa 2009. giant icons, useless 4x4 grid, breaks the muscle memory & UX of every vanilla Android launcher prior by enforcing Google Now as the only page to the left, app drawer snaps back to page one on close (They did just fix that, to their credit), changed the ICS+ widgets-in-app-drawer UX back to one that's incredibly counter-intuitive, adding a new page is a terrible experience...

I really hate that piece of software & consider it much more offensive than everything Samsung has done of late. JMO. :)


I can't speak to Samsung's email app since 4.2, but I was never a fan. The new email app with 4.4 in AOSP is great, modelled after the Gmail one.

Obviously personal opinion but I really like GNL. I prefer fairly clean homescreens so the grid size hasn't bother me. The drawer 4x6 and icon I find great. I've found the new (old) widget UI to be quicker and easier to reach with your thumb, with screen sizes increasing its harder and to reach the top of the screen (phablet operation being a little different). Also it makes for a cleaner untabbed app drawer.

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  # 985121 12-Feb-2014 14:32

bradstewart:

I can't speak to Samsung's email app since 4.2, but I was never a fan. The new email app with 4.4 in AOSP is great, modelled after the Gmail one.

Obviously personal opinion but I really like GNL. I prefer fairly clean homescreens so the grid size hasn't bother me. The drawer 4x6 and icon I find great. I've found the new (old) widget UI to be quicker and easier to reach with your thumb, with screen sizes increasing its harder and to reach the top of the screen (phablet operation being a little different). Also it makes for a cleaner untabbed app drawer.


Bit of a rant re: grid size - At this point I feel like no-one has done anything worthwhile with the 5"+ form factor in a launcher. With the possible exceptions of LG/HTC/Pantech(!), who all opted for 5x5 icon grids in their larger devices. Just boggles my mind that the best that Google themselves & the biggest Android OEM can think of to do with increased screen real-estate is blow up the same 4x4 grid UI that debuted on the 3.5" iPhone in 2007. I have 5.68" to play with, I expect more at this point.

At least the Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition got a 5x5 launcher! Would have been a bit sad otherwise. Z Ultra is a great example of the benefits of skinning in those larger form factors, as several major tech sites called out the Xperia version with Sony's UI as the better model.




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  # 985324 12-Feb-2014 17:54
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NikT:
bradstewart:

I can't speak to Samsung's email app since 4.2, but I was never a fan. The new email app with 4.4 in AOSP is great, modelled after the Gmail one.

Obviously personal opinion but I really like GNL. I prefer fairly clean homescreens so the grid size hasn't bother me. The drawer 4x6 and icon I find great. I've found the new (old) widget UI to be quicker and easier to reach with your thumb, with screen sizes increasing its harder and to reach the top of the screen (phablet operation being a little different). Also it makes for a cleaner untabbed app drawer.


Bit of a rant re: grid size - At this point I feel like no-one has done anything worthwhile with the 5"+ form factor in a launcher. With the possible exceptions of LG/HTC/Pantech(!), who all opted for 5x5 icon grids in their larger devices. Just boggles my mind that the best that Google themselves & the biggest Android OEM can think of to do with increased screen real-estate is blow up the same 4x4 grid UI that debuted on the 3.5" iPhone in 2007. I have 5.68" to play with, I expect more at this point.

At least the Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition got a 5x5 launcher! Would have been a bit sad otherwise. Z Ultra is a great example of the benefits of skinning in those larger form factors, as several major tech sites called out the Xperia version with Sony's UI as the better model.


Who knows, we might actually see some changes for when it is released to more than the Nexus 5. There's been quite a few tablet improvements made to it as well. You'd have to assume it's currently just a stealth beta for the launcher that will come with Android 5.

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  # 985349 12-Feb-2014 18:16
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I'm so glad I dumped my S4 for the Xperia Z1. I even tried GPe on the S4 and it was OK, nothing fantastic BUT the phone ran waaaay better than it did with TW.
Sony seemed to have gotten it right with the toggles and only a light skinning of pure android.
The only thing that annoys me is the "screen protector". I have a few light scratches.
After the dramas with 2 S3s getting SDS, the S4 being a dog in general and The bit where Samsung might let developers access more of your data, I'm not touching another sammy with a 10ft pole.
I don't really care what Google knows, but I don't want some developer knowing my shizzle. :D

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  # 985359 12-Feb-2014 18:35
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NikT: Bit of a rant re: grid size - At this point I feel like no-one has done anything worthwhile with the 5"+ form factor in a launcher. With the possible exceptions of LG/HTC/Pantech(!), who all opted for 5x5 icon grids in their larger devices. Just boggles my mind that the best that Google themselves & the biggest Android OEM can think of to do with increased screen real-estate is blow up the same 4x4 grid UI that debuted on the 3.5" iPhone in 2007. I have 5.68" to play with, I expect more at this point.

At least the Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition got a 5x5 launcher! Would have been a bit sad otherwise. Z Ultra is a great example of the benefits of skinning in those larger form factors, as several major tech sites called out the Xperia version with Sony's UI as the better model.



Have you tried KK Launcher? Very similar in use to GEL but allows any combination from 2x2 thru 10x10 grid, also lets you scale icon size

My One with 5x5 grid and icons scaled down to 85% of original size provides a real nice usable and uncluttered homescreen. I am confused as to why Google would not bake these two options into their launcher to take advantage of 1080p and phablet sized screens

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