Disclaimer: I am a UI snob and hate ugly, poor design and I make no apology for that. I also realize that Android is very customizable so UI design can be changed. This is about Samsungs aspirations to win over Apple customers and where I think they are going wring. This is not a review in anyway.
Samsung Won't Win Over Apple Customers With Their Ugly Software
If Samsung was content with the billions of dollars they are making from mobile devices this post wouldn't exist. This post is about the dichonemy between Samsungs apparent goals and their actual offerings. Judging by their ads Samsung wants Apple users to switch to their devices. The problem is that they don't seem to understand why Apple users like Apple products. We like polished, cohesive devices and Samsung just isn't going to win us over with ugly hardware and even uglier software. Samsung has to spend some serious money getting its design chops up to par if they ever hope to win over Apple customers in any sizable number. Especially if Apple releases a bigger iPhone, which would take away one of Samsungs main advantages for the average user. I just want to preface the rest of this post with: It doesn't matter to me that I find Samsungs UI ugly but it should matter to Samsung if their goal is for Apple customers to buy their devices.
Interest In The 'Note' Series
As a lover of technology, and one that has been pretty firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, the Samsung 'Note' series has intrigued me from the start. The S-Pen, the pressure sensitive screen, and the ability to have more than one app onscreen at a time all looked very interesting. So over the years I have tried out various models and I always have the same reaction:
'Wow that is amazingly ugly UI'
'The build quality seems to be miles behind Apple'
Their latest offering, the Note 10.1 (2014 edition) really piqued my interest. I watched videos for hours online looking at the features and trying to justify buying one. I was a little shocked by the price ($599) but if it was exactly what I wanted, I would have bought one. So I went to try one in person.
First Impressions With The Note 10.1 (2014)
I was pleasantly surprised at the functionality but even more surprised at how bad the UI looked. This was my initial reaction:
- 'What a disjointed UI and ugly icons. Well I have never liked Samsungs icons.'
- I started flipping through Samsungs fare of 1st party apps and thought 'what year is this?' Skueomorphism was rampant but even worse was the app design. It was reminiscant of my old Windows PC days, around 2001. I was in awe at how bad it was.
- 'Well none of that matters, I can customize it all' I then thought but as far as I can tell you can't really customize the s-pen's menu. (The one you activate by pressing the button on the stylus close to the screen.) Meaning the main reason I want an Note 10.1 is shackled to these ugly apps.
Almost everything I tried looked like it could have been on a computer a decade go. Hell, the music player looked like it could have been from 1999.
Yes I'm being a design snob, but this was seriously bad. From the icons to the apps themselves, almost everything was incredibly ugly and out-dated looking. It's the problem I have always had with Samsung, they make some really innovative stuff but put it in a terrible package. Samsung are obviously a very successful company and hold most of Androids OEM market share (and all of its profits), but with the design as it is they have little chance to get Apple users to switch to their products. This is my message as an Apple user interested in your products. "Work on your UI, because it looks like shit." I love iOS because of the level of polish and design if has. It feels premium, from the hardware to the software, while the Note 10.1 felt like a cheap tablet with an OS from a decade ago. No matter how good the features are, a users first thought when turning it on shouldn't be 'Wow that is ugly'.
Final Words To Samsung
Samsung, you may be making money hand over fist with your shotgun approach to mobile products but if you want to get the Apple users to switch you've got to make a beautiful, cohesive package. I have owned an Android tablet (Original Nexus 7) in the past and had no issues with the UI design but your smartphones and tablets make me shudder at every turn. Spend some of your gigantic marketing budget hiring designers to re-think everything from your icons to your app UI and you have a far greater chance of us switching. Apple users like iOS for a reason it's simple, it's cohesive, and it's beautiful. You don't have to be simply but you sure have to be cohesive and beautiful to court Apple users.
Credit for the pictures goes to Redditor /u/mastervahar (Thanks Again)