To help fill those spaces TouchWiz also features a number of widgets, some more useful than others and all featuring some level of animation, which is a nice, if useless, touch (pun apologetically intended). Office consensus has it that neither the battery indicator, the mini-controller showing the current track and pause, next and back buttons is the best, nor even the Memo application which uses surprisingly effective handwriting recognition and will display a user-designated ‘top memo’ on the home screen. No, the best feature of the YP-R1 is Sleep Cat, on which you can tap to set a 30, 60 or 90 minute timer after which the player will turn itself off, but not before an animation of Sleep Cat dozing off has played – it’s simply adorable.
In all seriousness, about half of the widgets are functionally useless. The presence of three different clocks (digital, analogue and one showing the time in two different zones) seems a bit superfluous and while a gingerbread man holding a sign reading ‘touch me’ is all well and good, it’s rather annoying that he doesn’t do anything if you succumb to his request. Likewise a flower that sheds petals indefinitely when prodded serves as a distraction for a couple of minutes before being forgotten about.
Plus widgets sit above the actually useful menu icons, so if you aren’t careful you can end up hiding the Music menu under a calendar which will cause no end of confusion.
Much worse than some of the widgets is one of the headline additions to the YP-R1 – Beat DJ. A much hyped feature, this facilitates ‘scratching’ tracks, or adding various effects such as reverb or echo to them may well be the most pointless application on anything ever. Why Samsung makes such a fuss of this ‘feature’ I have no idea, because there’s a lot to like about the YP-R1; Beat DJ, however, just isn’t one of those things.
Other annoyances come from UI quirks which are clearly intentional, but for no obvious good reason. It makes sense, for example, that swiping left or right on the Now Playing screen should skip forwards and back, but surely swiping to the right should select the next track, not the previous one?
Navigating long lists could be easier. Swiping up or down does scroll in the way you’d expect, but if you hold the screen while doing so items fly past much faster than the speed you move your digit, which seems counter-intuitive to me. I’m not sure why playback controls are hidden on the Now Playing screen until you tap to reveal them, either.