Honeycomb Is Still A Wreck, But Samsung's Galaxy Tab Update Does A Lot To Fix It

galaxy tab update

Photo: Screenshot

Samsung will release a new update for the Honeycomb-powered Galaxy Tab 10.1 that fixes a lot of common problems with Android’s tablet OS.The update, which brings Samsung’s TouchWiz skin to the Galaxy Tab, will be available to the public on August 5 as an over the air download. I got my hands on TouchWiz for Honeycomb today. Keep reading to see what I think.

Or click here for a bunch of screenshots >

The Rundown
The update is Samsung’s TouchWiz skin for Honeycomb, which adds a bunch of new widgets and apps for Honeycomb that can run in the foreground without closing the app you’re currently using.

The apps are pretty basic, including a calendar, notepad, and music player. Samsung also updated Honeycomb’s control dock with a new look that appears a lot more user-friendly than the one included with Honeycomb.

There are a bunch of widgets pre-loaded now, including Social Hub for managing your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. You’ll also get the typical clock, weather, bookmark, and mail widgets. Honeycomb has been missing these since the beginning.

Finally, Samsung included Swype, the keyboard modification that lets you type by sliding your finger across the keyboard. Many Samsung Android phones use Swype on their keyboards now.

The update will be available to Galaxy Tab owners beginning August 5. You can download it directly to your Tab.

TouchWiz Makes Honeycomb Better, But It’s Still Far From Perfect
I’ve only been using TouchWiz on the Galaxy Tab for a few hours, so this is far from a full review. But I can safely say that Samsung did a great job at targeting many of Honeycomb’s flaws and making them better.

That’s better, not perfect.

I like that there’s now a control panel to control things like Wi-Fi, GPS, aeroplane mode, etc. from the notifications menu. Before, Honeycomb made you dig through the settings menu to do that.

The Music Hub, Samsung’s music store, has a decent selection with 11 million songs. It’s not as robust as iTunes, but it should get the job done for most people. Android has been missing a solid music store for years.

Media Hub, the store for downloading movies and TV shows, doesn’t have the best selection though. The library is populated with a bunch of sub-par videos. Again, I think iTunes is much better for video, but Media Hub is a sorely-needed feature for Honeycomb tablets.

To get a full taste of what else is new with TouchWiz on the Galaxy Tab, check out my screenshot tour below.

 

Tapping the Images widget opens up your photo albums. Select the album you want to use

Now select the photos you want to scroll through the widget. Click OK when you're finished

Your photos will begin scrolling in the images widget

The screen to the left has new widgets for bookmarks, AP news, and e-mail

The first screen to the right has another date/weather widget (why?) and Social Hub, which displays feeds from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Let's set up Social Hub

Tapping Social Hub brings you to this set up menu

Select the account you want to set up

Enter your login information

Social Hub will put all your social networking feeds here

Your feeds will also stream to the Social Hub widget

Here's a look at Music Hub, Samsung's music store. There are 11 million tracks to choose from. Other than that, it's pretty standard.

Here's Media Hub, Samsung's video store. The selection isn't that great. But you can store movies on up to five devices and stream as your file downloads.

Samsung added a few standard apps that can run in the foreground of other apps. It's almost like using a Windows or Mac desktop. Here's the calculator running along with the web browser

Here's the notepad

As you can see, these basic apps can run at the same time as any app.

Here's the task manager. You can close apps from here.

Here's the new Swype keyboard. To type, just slide your finger to the letters in the word you want to type. It takes a while to get used to

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