appleinsider logo
Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Samsung's TouchWiz preventing Galaxy S owners from getting Android 4.0 ICS

The Samsung Galaxy S smartphone and 7-inch Galaxy Tab will not receive the latest version of Android, because Samsung has said its custom TouchWiz user interface, not Google's operating system, is too taxing on the hardware.

Android device makers like Samsung and others apply their own user interface elements to Google's free, open-source Android operating system on handsets, tablets and other devices to differentiate themselves from the large number of Android products on the market. On Samsung's devices, this "experience enhancing" software is called TouchWiz.

But it's the addition of TouchWiz to Android that will keep popular devices like the Samsung Galaxy S from running Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," according to The Verge. Though the Galaxy S has a speedy 1GHz Hummingbird processor and enough memory for ICS, Samsung has revealed the software update won't be coming to that device, which sold more than 10 million units last year.

But the Galaxy S sports the same internal hardware as Google's Nexus S smartphone, and Nexus S owners can already obtain Android 4.0 through an over-the-air update.

"Samsung addresses that inconsistency by again pointing to the differing software provision; the Nexus S only has to run the basic Android OS, whereas the Galaxy S has to deliver TouchWiz, carrier services, video calling software, and, in some markets, mobile TV," wrote Vlad Savov.

That stands in contrast to Apple, which this year kept around its iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009, with a free update to iOS 5. Meanwhile, Android phones often ship with an outdated version of Google's mobile operating system, and the systems are also rarely updated, even during the original contract term of the handset.

Blogger Michael Degusta revealed in October that 45 percent of Google's installed base of active Android users were stuck using software released in the middle of 2010. That's because handset makers like Samsung, HTC, Motorola and others do not make those updates available to phones, and users cannot circumvent their inaction without "rooting" their handset.

Samsung's explanation for why Galaxy S and 7-inch Galaxy Tab users won't get ICS comes soon after Motorola and Sony Ericsson also told customers they would not be able to update to Android 4.0.