Samsung's Android-powered smartphones look and behave a little differently to other Android devices. They have a specially developed User Interface (UI), or skin, called TouchWiz, which sits on top of the Operating System and alters the way that Android looks and feels.
Most major smartphone manufacturers develop their own Android UIs - HTC have Sense, Sony have Timescape, and Samsung TouchWiz comes as standard on most Galaxy smartphones (excluding the Nexus models). Getting to know how TouchWiz works and what you can do to customise it will improve your user experience.
Getting to grips with TouchWiz
Even if you aren't already familiar with TouchWiz and how it alters the menu arrangements and customisation options of your smartphone, you should find it relatively easy to navigate around. But wouldn't it be cooler to master your mobile and match its layout to your mood and tastes?
Customising your homescreen
Your homescreen consists of a background image (or wallpaper) with widgets, icons and shortcuts placed in the foreground.
To add content to your homescreen, hold your finger down on a free space for two seconds, until the 'add to homescreen' menu appears, then select the type of content to add. (You can also reach this menu by pressing the Menu key from your current homecreen and tapping 'add'.)
Changing the wallpaper
Pressing on 'wallpaper' will bring up a new menu with 'gallery', 'live wallpaper' and 'wallpaper gallery' for you to choose from. In brief:
If you have a live wallpaper already assigned, you will notice a 'configure' option. This allows you to modify some of your live wallpaper's settings, either to change the colour scheme or other visual settings.
- Gallery – the photos taken by your phone's camera app. Select this to choose a truly personal background
- Live wallpaper – live wallpapers can be a small burden on your handset's battery life, but don't let that deter you (unless your battery life is already pushed to its limits). Live wallpapers are animated, and on occasion can also be interactive. Fresh live wallpapers can be downloaded from Google Play
- Wallpaper gallery – This is where the stock background images are located. These wallpapers are supplied by default on your phone
Rearranging the homescreen
The wallpaper has been changed, but what if your icons and widgets are obscuring the best bits of your newly chosen background? Simply press your finger on any object on your homescreen for two seconds, then drag your finger around the screen to place that object elsewhere. If you drag the icon to the edges of the display, you can even transfer your apps and widgets to one of your Home screen's other pages.
Custom Ringtones and Alerts
You can personalise the message or ringtone on your Samsung phone in almost exactly the same way as you would on any other Android smartphone, mainly due to the fact that TouchWiz is more of an attractive cover for a more widely used system. The underlying menus and options tend to work in the same way across devices, no matter who manufactured it.
To set a song as your ringtone:
- To customise your alerts and ringtones from music you own, play a track using your handset's music player
- While the tune is playing, press the menu key and press 'set as'.Choose whether you want to use the song as a phone ringtone (goes off when anyone calls you), a caller ringtone (goes off when a specific contacts calls you) or an alarm tone (used to wake you up in the mornings)
If the sound you want to use isn't on your handset already, you can follow the process below.
- On your handset, go to Settings > Applications > Development and tick 'USB debugging'
For Alarm sounds, open your apps list and press Clock. Select the alarm clock icon to create your next alarm. If you follow the on screen instructions, your new tone should appear and be selectable.
- Plug your handset in to your computer
- Slide down your handset's notification bar and press once on 'USB connected', followed by 'connect storage to PC'
- On the computer, open your phone's memory card folder (usually called removable disk)
- Inside this folder (called the 'root' folder), make a new folder called 'ringtones'. To create a new alarm tone, make a folder called 'alarms'
- Now simply copy your music or sample to the new 'ringtones' or 'alarms' folder
- Disconnect your device from the computer
- For ringtones and notifications, open the Settings menu and press on 'sound'. Press once on either 'phone ringtone' or 'notification ringtone' to select your new tone from a list of available sounds