TouchWiz is a front-end interface installed on Samsung devices, which can be customized using various themes. Some of the problems with TouchWiz is that it ships with many pre-installed applications that cannot be uninstalled and it consumes substantial amounts of memory. Now there are rumors that Samsung may partner with Google GOOGL +0.26% to optimize the TouchWiz interface, according to Samsung Viet.
The rumor about Google helping Samsung enhance TouchWiz comes at an interesting time. In the past, Google has worked with HTC HTCCY +%, LG, Motorola, Huawei and Samsung to build Nexus devices. Now there are reports that Google is going to start building its own phones. Even though Android has a dominant share in the smartphone market, Apple AAPL -0.85%’s iPhone leads in profits. Plus Apple’s larger-sized smartphones like the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus are convincing Android users to switch over. By creating its own hardware, Google could ensure higher quality products powered by stock versions of Android.
At one point, the relationship between Google and Samsung was contentious. In February 2014, Samsung released another customizable user interface known as Magazine UX in its Pro series tablets. But users were not able to turn off Magazine UX since it was built into the tablets. Google prefers its manufacturing partners to ship devices with stock versions of Android.
Back in June 2014, Bloomberg said Magazine UX “enraged executives at Google” because it hid Google’s services like the Play app store and it required Android users to learn a new set of behaviors. Magazine UX also replaced the Google Chrome browser, Google Hangouts, Google Voice Search and Google Wallet with Samsung’s own apps that perform similar functions. Sundar Pichai, the newly appointed CEO of Google who was the head of Android at the time, took charge of resolving that situation.
Following the release of Magazine UX, Pichai set up several meetings with Samsung Mobile chief executive J.K. Shin. After the meetings, Samsung decided to scale back Magazine UX. Samsung and Google also signed a ten-year patent deal that covers all current and future technology patents. In the same month as the patent agreement, Google also sold Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Samsung seemed appeased by the sale because Motorola had early access to Android upgrades over other manufacturers while it was under Google.
Why would Google partner with Samsung to fix TouchWiz? Samsung’s reputation would be improved if it received under-the-hood optimization support from Google and it could prevent users from switching away from Android.
Samsung is the largest manufacturer of Android devices, meaning TouchWiz is the most used Android interface. But TouchWiz definitely has room for improvement because it struggles with memory problems even on newer devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy Note 5, which have 4GB of RAM. Hopefully, Samsung and Google partner on TouchWiz improvements because its customers would largely benefit from the changes.