Samsung to nix bloatware in Galaxy S6 OS, report says

Samsung has been rumored to be improving its TouchWiz Android skin, but it might actually decide to remove all of its own programs in favor of those from Microsoft.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Samsung's new software platform, TouchWiz, will be unveiled at Unpacked in March. Samsung

Samsung will remove many of its own programs in the upcoming version of its TouchWiz user interface, a new report claims.

The new version of Samsung's TouchWiz will be stripped down to not include any Samsung-built applications, Sammobile is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the company's plans. In their place, Samsung will bundle Microsoft apps, including OneNote, OneDrive, Office Mobile, and Skype, the blog's sources say.

Samsung is putting the final touches on TouchWiz for the anticipated announcement of the Galaxy S6 flagship smartphone at its Unpacked event on March 1. TouchWiz is the company's user interface that sits atop a standard build of Android. Most Android vendors have created their own user interfaces to differentiate their software experiences from that of other vendors. LG, Sony, and other major vendors, have their own user interfaces that they slap atop a standard Android build.

In years past, Samsung has bundled several of its own applications into TouchWiz -- considered bloatware -- including its health-related app S Health and its note-taking program S Note. Its S Voice personal assistant has also been among the bundled apps.

However, in an effort to improve the platform's responsiveness, Samsung will remove all of those apps by default and make them available in its onboard application marketplace, Sammobile says. The programs will be available in the Galaxy Apps store for free.

Samsung's Unpacked event will be crucial for the company. Last year, Samsung watched its mobile profits fall off a cliff as it faced increasing competition in key markets, like China. To fend off competitors, Samsung was forced to spend more on marketing.

In the last few earnings calls with investors, Samsung has acknowledged its troubles and said that it plans to reduce the number of smartphones it offers this year by a third to focus more on its top performers. The company's Galaxy S line is among its top performers, so the upcoming Galaxy S6 could play a crucial role in the company's mobile success or failure.

According to Sammobile, Samsung believes that it can set itself apart from competitors through its software. In addition to nixing some of its own apps, the company will improve the platform's default keyboard and add more themes to customize the operating system's look and feel. All of the company's apps will also be more colorful.

But it's the addition of Microsoft apps to TouchWiz that might prove most surprising. Microsoft and Samsung have been locked in a patent royalty case that they settled earlier this week. Microsoft sued Samsung for royalties related to Android last year after attempting to resolve their issues out of court. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The timing of the news that Microsoft may have found its way into TouchWiz is ironic, if nothing else, and could call into question whether bundling Microsoft software with the Samsung software was part of the agreement.

Neither Samsung nor Microsoft immediately responded to a request for comment.