The second part of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Wifi review is here! I started a review of the Galaxy Tab however the Hardware portion of the review was incredibly long. This is the Software portion. I have a lot less to say about the software because it is just Android after all.
The Galaxy Tab Wifi offers the same system that the 3G models do. It’s nothing special or different in that regard. However, compared to a blank slate (pun?) installation of Android like my LG Optimus V, it’s a little different.
Let’s start out with the home-screen. I believe the Launcher is not TouchWiz. I think it’s just some special Samsung Interface for the Launcher. When you start the Galaxy Tab up, you’re greeted with the normal Android 2.2 Lock-screen with the slide-to-unlock and Mute sliders. Sliding to unlock shows the home-screen. In the vertical orientation, here’s the break down. There is the pane location indicator at the top, nearest to the notifications bar. Then by default the normal Google search bar with Voice functionality. Then you get a bunch of app-icons. By default there is the Market and the useless Samsung App Store. Then YouTube, Camera, Calendar, Kindle and other apps as well. You can swipe to a different pane for something they call the daily briefing which is a digest of weather, news, and stock information. The Samsung/Android equivalent to do the Springboard in iOS or the Dock in OSX is weak. It houses the Applications menu along with two quick jumping buttons for Email and Browser. I was tempted to change this to Launcher Pro but I resisted for the review’s sake.
The Applications menu itself has two screens of default apps. I’ll list the interesting apps. First, you get the standard pile of build Android apps but with customizations. For instance, the Tab version of the calculator looks different from it does on my Optimus. Then you have the Daily Briefing and Digital Frame apps which serve as poster-board style applications running when you aren’t using the device. There’s the default Gmail app, Latitude and of course Maps. I’m pleased to see someone thought it was a good idea to include a basic Memo-app like Notes on iOS. There is Music and Music Hub which is a lame version of iTunes the store. Then Places, Navigation, and Google Talk of course. Task Manager is included so you can kill apps. And that’s basically all the apps that are blatantly Samsung-touched. Qik and Moviefone are there, but they’re just the same as always.
The notification drawer is actually useful on the Galaxy Tab. It has quick access to Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, Silent and the Orientation Lock. I condemned the hardware for not having a physical button for the orientation lock but I suppose this is a decent solution. The other shortcuts are generally useful and well place by being always accessible. On my Optimus, to toggle Wifi, I need to use a widget on one of my home-screen panes. A unique feature is the brightness slider. It also has a check box toggling auto-control that will control brightness based on the viewing content and ambient line in the room.
Android apps all function the same as far as I know. Facebook’s app, for example, sucks just as much as it does on my phone. It’s not nearly as polished as the iOS app. TweetDeck is really nice because it has the advantage of a spacious UI. Pandora works exactly the same but it’s great being able to view the album art.
I have a special place in my heart for the Kindle for Android app. I first experimented with Kindle on my computer, then my iPod touch 4G and now this. I never bothered with it on my phone because the display was just too small. The Galaxy Tab’s size is perfect for reading. The application is beautiful. When you start it, you’re brought to a screen with a list of your books. You optionally can have them turn into book-tiles in a grid view, which I prefer. When a book is opened, it will position itself to your orientation, but you can optionally lock it without setting the system-wide orientation lock. Swiping to turn pages will always be stupid in my opinion. Sure, it looks good in ads but in practice it’s annoying, so they allow you to do both a swipe and a simple tap. The problem persists however I always need to hold it in my right hand so I can tap on the right side-edge to move to the next page, on the right. So they’ll need to work on that.
The Camera app is my father’s favorite app I think, built-in. Here’s what it does. It offers a resolution by default of 2048 by 1232. It has options for white balance, effects, ISO and image quality ranging from normal to superfine. It also can handle automatic geo-tagging. The shortcuts on the side of the viewfinder itself are: exposure control, flash control, scene control and finally mode. The flash control has three settings, off, on and auto. The flash is bright and works pretty well. It’s a huge LED. The scene control offers Portrait, Landscape, Night and Sports. These change the way light is interpreted and makes adjusts based on movement, light and probably other factors. Finally, Mode offers Single shot, Panorama, Smile shot and Self-shot. Single shot uses the back camera with its high quality resolution, the panorama can merge different shots together at .7mp quality, Smile shot lets you wait while your target smiles, which is clever. Finally, self-shot uses the front facing camera with 1.3mp of quality to picture yourself. Finally, the highest picture quality, it claims it can save around 8800 pictures to the internal memory card. Video is good too. The video side of the Camera app has less settings. It can toggle flash on or off. Exposure control is also an option. Audio capture is available but has to be set in the options panel. It’s just your standard camera app for video.
I noticed that the ringtones on the Galaxy Tab and my Optimus are different. Now, one is a phone and one is not, but why are they different? I guess I noticed but promptly forgot, but there are many differences between the Galaxy Tab OS and the OS on my phone, despite both being Android 2.2 Froyo. Seriously, if someone says there is fragmentation, they are correct.
Overall, the software is good. With more options available, I think it could border perfect, but you know how locked down Android is. And that concludes the software review of the Galaxy Tab Wifi. This review on only software ended