What has TouchWiz done to JellyBean?

Since I decided to upgrade to an S4 rather than another Nexus device I thought I show how the Samsung edition of some core apps are different than the Android edition and why you may choose to use them. Samsung built its reputation by including added features that were not available with the Nexus experience. I will be comparing TouchWiz (built on 4.2.2) to the 4.2.2 version of JB that I'm running on my Nexus or the latest offering via the play store. Core criticisms of TouchWiz include bloat and icon styling - let's take a look.
 
JB vs. TW
With 4.2.2 Android introduced toggles in the notification shade at last, kind of. Not all of them are simply on or off and you have to go to the second screen to view all the available toggles and settings. TouchWiz has had toggles in the notification shade since Eclair.(2.0) and they just keep adding them. Now you have to scroll to access all of them but you can sort them to keep the 5 you want most always visible. When you hit the little mosaic you see all the available toggles so you can sort them. A settings icon is next to the mosaic and there is an auto brightness slider that allows you to adjust how much extra adjustment you would like. To clear notifications you simply tap the clear button in the notifications bar.


While the Gallery apps appear similar they are quite different. Android sticks to sorting by album, locations, times, people and tags. When you tap the menu you can select album, make available offline, refresh and go to settings. Settings are pretty basic. TouchWiz shows a mosaic of your albums when you open Gallery. Touch the sort button and in addition to albums and you sort based on Time, Locations, People, Favourites (spelled correctly) and Spiral. From the menu you can select an album, launch a slideshow, decide what content to include and go to settings which are similar to the stock app.

The keyboards seem similar as well with the flat well spaced keys that do not do double duty on long press, again TouchWiz is keeping close to the Android foundation. This time the visual twist is the number keys for a top row. With screens getting so large this is a welcome addition. Flow is built in as is predictive text using the Swiftkey engine. An interesting addition is the ability to choose a handwriting option that works with a finger or traditional stylus (but not a Note stylus). Lots of keyboards available to choose from; many people swear by SwiftKey.

Not a lot to say about the core Messaging app. It lets you text from a basic screen and does group and MMS. Perhaps not much has been done with it because there are so many options like GoSMS, Chomp and Google Hangouts. TouchWiz has added some minimal theming to the basic app. TW allows you to change the wallpaper and message bubble style and add a signature.

I'm using the TouchWiz apps because they are multi-window and that's one reason I went to the S4. Handwriting recognition (another reasons) is almost as good on the S4 as it is for the Note. You can call TouchWiz bloat but I'll continue to call them value added features.
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