Samsung Galaxy Alpha review: Galaxy reboot
Latest TouchWiz on KitKat
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha runs on the latest available Android 4.4.4 KitKat enhanced with the TouchWiz UI that also powers the Galaxy S5.
The lockscreen can be secured with a fingerprint - the Galaxy Alpha can be set to recognize up to three individual fingerprints. You can scan the finger from a different angle to improve the accuracy of the reader. If it still fails reading the finger for some reason (e.g. wet fingers), the phone will ask for a password so you'll never get locked out.
The new lockscreen wallpaper is interactive and as you move the phone in your hand it shifts colors around.
The homescreen features the My Magazine that displays both news articles and social networking updates. This is powered by Flipboard and you can enjoy your reads in a clean interface and send links to your friends or post social updates straight from the app.
There are regular homescreens too, with shortcuts, widgets and folders. If you want just those, My Magazine can be disabled completely.
The notification area is filled to the brim with features. The toggles work as usual and below them are two buttons (S Finder and Quick connect). Below that is the brightness slider, which can be hidden to save space, but you're stuck with the two buttons.
There's a new feature called Recommended apps, which adds relevant shortcuts when an accessory is plugged, like the headphones. You're free to edit the list of 5 shortcuts or disable the feature completely.
In the app drawer, icons are presented as a customizable or alphabetized grid. You can also view only the ones you've downloaded yourself or just hide the ones you don't need. You can also disable some of the pre-installed apps so they won't take any RAM.
The Galaxy Alpha has an App Switcher button that calls up a custom switcher UI. As usual, you can go into the task manager for more advanced controls or just hit the Close all button.
The Galaxy Alpha comes with the Multi-window multitasking feature, which allows you to run two apps side by side. Unlike previous iterations of the feature, you can't resize the two windows (even though the Help tries to teach you how).
If a pair of apps works well together (e.g. the browser and the email client) you can create a shortcut that launches both. Note that only select apps work with Multi-window but more can be found in the Play Store.
There are no floating apps here, but there's something called Toolbox - a floating icon that shows a list of shortcuts once tapped. This is a quick way to get to some of the most commonly used apps.