First off, there are a number of visual improvements – the icon set has been redrawn anew, the widgets have been polished and more transparent backgrounds are abound. Everything looks much slicker now and, at times, reminds us of the HTC Sense UI graphics quality, which, of course, is still a much more comprehensive Android overlay than TouchWiz.
Having both Phone and Contacts icons in the dock strip at the bottom of the screen is a waste of space, if you ask us, since both lead you to the same phoning app. Good that you can replace the first three icons on the dock with any shortcut of your choosing from the main menu edit function.
The phone functions screen has four tabs at the top – Keypad, Logs, Contacts and Favorites – so you can easily switch from direct dialing to searching for one of your contact's details, for example. As usual, you can integrate your Facebook, Gmail and Twitter friends in the contacts list, as well as your corporate buddies from your company's Exchange server. Syncing all those allows you to view plenty of details without ever leaving the Contacts app; for example - Facebook status updates or uploaded picture albums.
voice recognition. While in the browser, the mic key turns into a slash button, so it obviously adapts to the situation.
In the Messaging app the text or MMS messages appear in threaded view, and the keyboard doesn't eat up most of the screen estate in both portrait and landscape modes, so you can clearly see where you are typing. Speaking of MMS, you can attach almost anything to your message – picture, video, file, calendar appointment, and so on. The Calendar itself hasn't been revamped on the outside, but it's the same excellent tool for keeping track of appointments, and you can add an event quickly, syncing with your Google or Exchange calendars, too.
Some novel functionalities are suspiciously tied up to the capable hardware on the Samsung Galaxy S II, so they might not appear in that form in less able handsets with TouchWiz 4.0. There are four gestures you can use in the interface, which are powered by the motion sensors inside the Galaxy S II. The Panning one lets you hold a widget or an app icon and move between homescreens or menu pages by tilting the phone left and right, until you reach the desired position to place them on. It skips a screen or two if you are not careful, and for going all the way back, you almost have to twist your arm.
Turn over lets you flip the phone to mute incoming calls or any other sound coming from the speaker, and works like a charm. Tilt lets you zoom in and out of photos and websites by having two fingers on the screen at once, and tilting the phone up and down. This one isn't particularly useful, as you can do the same with pinch-to-zoom as well. Finally, Double Tap is for when your hands are tied with, say, driving – so you can just tap the phone twice at the top, and you can give it voice commands. Works as advertised, see for yourself at 5:20 in the video review at the end of the article.