Samsung. The name rings a bell in the mind as the company always at war with Apple and its legion of patents. It reminds us of the company that still chooses to use plastic and other non-metal materials for its devices. It calls to mind the company that has its feet in all different types of electronic item production, from dishwashers to smartwatches, smartphones to Apple’s iPads’ displays. But when you open up the app drawer of your brand new Samsung Galaxy device, what do you see? You may see some Google services, like Chrome and Google+, Gmail and YouTube, but you will always see some Samsung-y goodness alongside these hallmark essentials. You’ll see Samsung’s own photo gallery, their video player, their Internet browser on your homepage, and of course the toggles for key system features in the notification pulldown. Which do you use most? Probably the gallery, phone dialer, and the messaging app, right?
That is what most people use on a daily basis, and Samsung wants to provide all the services you could ever use on your device, even going so far as to include an entire separate app store, known as and titled Samsung Hub, where you can fill your device with Samsung’s own versions of many of Google’s key applications and services. But of the billions of devices and the millions of users, how many do you think choose to actually use many or any of these add-ons, known lovingly as ‘bloatware’ by the many fans of actually getting to use as much of the promised internal storage as possible? Now, there may be many people that prefer the gallery app from Samsung over the Google+ Photos app, for aesthetic or ease-of-use, or simply because you don’t have to sign into Google to use it fully. There are folks that love Samsung’s video player, and the music player they include, because it has a nicer feel about it compared to the ones found on Nexus devices. But that second app store. That second app store has been, and technically still is, the center of Samsung’s presence on your device, putting aside the additions and changes to the operating system as a whole.
Earlier this year, we heard that Google contacted Samsung about its changes to Android as an operating system on their devices. Samsung reportedly agreed with Google to lessen their extras on their future Android devices. All this was after Samsung unveiled the TabPRO and NotePRO lines of tablets, with the HTC BlinkFeed-esque ‘news congregation to the left of your first homescreen’ called Magazine UX. Samsung’s app store, though not addressed in the supposed agreement, has seen less use, because as people change from owning a Samsung to an HTC, to a Motorola device, the Google Services are always there, whereas the Samsung ones aren’t, and then aren’t used once the user returns to a Samsung device. Recently, some people were having a hearty discussion about Apple and Samsung attempting to lock users into their respective ecosystems on Twitter. They were discussing this matter with none other than Samsung’s Marketing Manager for Technical Media, Philip Berne. In this discussion, Berne replied “Samsung Hub is going away.” with no real prompting. This leaves us wondering, ‘What is to come of Samsung’s Hub of apps and services?’.
More importantly, it is worth noting that this ‘abandonment, if you will, of Samsung Hub is made all the more likely because, for those of you with a Galaxy S5, take a quick look through the apps, because Samsung Hub is not in the app drawer unless you got it yourself. Those without Galaxy S5’s, Samsung Hub is absent entirely from the Galaxy S5 out-of-the-box app drawer lineup. Could this spell the beginning of the removal of many of Samsung’s apps from our Galaxy devices? Or even further, could this be the beginning of a long-awaited ‘dialing back’, a toning down if you will, of Touchwiz on Galaxy devices? Only time will tell what Samsung Hub’s exclusion from the first flagship from Samsung will mean in the long run.