It didn’t always used to be this way, either, but ever since a firmware change happened midway through the life of the Galaxy S3 — oh, we remember Samsung — the Australian shortcut dock has been locked for Samsung devices made available locally. It was locked on the S4, which we complained about in our review, and it’s locked on the S5 too.
But that’s not all.
You also can’t open apps from the lockscreen. We could on the S3, and the S4 brought in lockscreen widgets (which we suspect nobody used), but on the S5, there’s nothing. There’s a slide to open, or a fingerprint unlock, or another security measure, but that’s it. No camera access from the lockscreen, no drag to open an app like the web browser or phone call… nothing.
It’s strange, because you can actually customise the interface of the camera, though you can’t seem to decide what mode the camera opens up in first.
And you can change the order of the items in the “My Magazine” page, but even though it’s based on Flipboard, not all of your settings from Flipboard seem to work here. In fact, just like HTC’s BlinkFeed, you can’t add your favourite webpages and RSS feeds, so once again, you’re stuck with what Samsung suggests.
From what we gather, though, this lack of customisation might extend from making the Galaxy S5 as easy to use as possible, while still providing a modicum of room to move.
In a way, that’s similar to what Apple provides in its iPhone: a complicated product that removes the layers of complexity, resulting in something that is simple and just works.
That’s what it feels like Samsung is trying to achieve in the S5, keeping the homescreens, the widgets, the menus and dropdown bars, but doing everything the company can to appeal to iPhone users curious about the big screens and Samsung style by simplifying Android so that it’s less fussy and easier to adopt quickly.
But in some ways, the company has done too much.
Not being able to change the dock will frustrate customers, especially those who don’t want the stock internet browser, and want to change the shortcuts to something more beneficial for them.
Samsung can argue that it has provided a solution for these customers in the “Toolbox,” a new option that stays on the screen when it’s switched on and provides user upgradeable shortcuts in any location. Think of it as your favourite five programs that can appear at a moment’s notice from a small circle you can keep on screen at all times.
That’s nice, and we’re delighted to see some customisation here, but seriously, it doesn’t make up for a dock you can’t change. It really doesn’t. And a more secure fingerprint unlock doesn’t make up for the ability to open your camera from the lockscreen. Sorry, but it doesn’t.
Moving items around on the homescreen is a little different, too. It could be that we’re seeing the result of the ongoing lawsuits through these steps, but if you hold down on an icon on the homescreen and try to move it, you’ll be instead asked to hit the edit icon on the screen, which is a little pencil that, when pressed, actually lets you move icons and widgets around. Strangely, you can still remove icons and send them to trash by holding them down, but changing where things sit can’t be done this way.