The lack of any major hardware announcements during yesterday’s Google I/O keynote presentation was not only disappointing, but surprising too, as rumours had spread that at the very least we’d be seeing an updated Nexus 7 tablet. So what did phone fans get? While there was no new Nexus on the menu, we did get the next best thing, a special version of the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Google didn’t give it a name, but it popped up in a last minute rumour report as the Galaxy S4 Google Edition, so what makes it so special? Hardware-wise, it’s exactly the same as the Galaxy S4 we all know and love, but when it comes to the software, it’s a different beast. The TouchWiz user interface has been completely removed, leaving only Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, just the way Google intended it to be.
This is a huge departure for Samsung, as it has built TouchWiz up into an expansive collection of tools, apps and tweaks, and deciding to remove it must have been a difficult decision. Now it has done so, the Google Edition will be sold through the Google Play store, but has so far only been announced for America.
It will come with an unlocked bootloader, allowing developers to play around with the OS and test their apps, plus Google has promised it will receive Android updates faster than its sister phone. It’s a GSM device with 4G LTE connectivity, so there’s no obvious reason why it shouldn’t get a release in the UK in the future. It’s out on June 26 in the U.S., and has been given a price of $650, which converts over to around £430.