TouchWiz: Samsung's Take On Android
While many people may not know (or even care) what version of Android their device has, or even know what TouchWiz is, what's important to Samsung is that the experience is familiar to someone who is already accustomed to previously using a Galaxy-branded device.
From the S Pen capabilities to the TouchWiz overlay, if you took the pure Google Nexus 10 and sought to make it more familiar to the millions of Galaxy Note owners, you'd get the Note 10.1 (2014).
The Nexus 10 is a full-sized, 10-inch, Google-branded tablet manufactured by Samsung. The standout feature has got to be its previously unprecedented (for a tablet) 2560x1600 QHD-class resolution. Under the hood is the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual SoC, 2 GB of LPDDR3 memory, a whopping 9000 mAh battery, and is available with either 16 or 32 GB of internal storage. Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, microUSB, and microHDMI round out the Nexus 10's connectivity options.
While many people oppose the idea of TouchWiz and other third-party Android overlays, we can't blame Samsung for doing it, and we're even surprised it took the company this long to make an upgraded and branded variant of the Nexus 10.
With the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014, Samsung builds upon its strategy of unifying the "Samsung Experience" found on the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 smartphones. This means forgoing the on-screen buttons, established by Android 3.0 Honeycomb, in favor of the capacitive Menu, hardware Home, and capacitive Back buttons we know today.
We can't overstate how damaging Menu buttons are to Google's user experience since Android 4.0 (and arguably even earlier in Android 3.x). The hidden menu is not in the novice user's best interest. While it might have seemed natural in the Eclair, FroYo, and Gingerbread eras, it creates an unnecessarily steep learning curve for new users, since it hides contextual options that should otherwise be self-evident.
The Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro lines, as well as the Galaxy S5, show that Samsung is finally getting the message. The company replaces the capacitive Menu button with an App Switching button, which is a huge relief given the multitude of functions previously assigned to the Home button. Unfortunately, even though the company is now using the same buttons as the stock operating system, the order is reversed, so a learning curve is still present for those coming from most other Android-based products.
As for the physical actuation of the buttons, the Home button is just the right firmness and "clickiness" for our liking. The power button and volume rocker are situated at the top of the device when you're holding it in landscape mode, so taking the Home button placement into consideration, it's obvious that Samsung was hinting that this is the intended orientation for the Note 10.1 2014.