Despite my complaints with all the add-ons on the S4, a number of them show promise:
- Easy Mode
It's not entirely new, as the S III and the Galaxy Note 2 have it, too. But Samsung makes that option more prominent when people set up the S4 for the first time.
Icons in Easy Mode are larger, so you are less likely to hit the wrong one and have to figure out how to go back. You also get fewer choices for customizing the phone and using its camera, so there's less confusion about which to pick.
Easy Mode isn't as easy to use as I would have liked, though, because features and settings from the regular mode creep in now and then.
- Multi Window
Again, this feature isn't entirely new, but it's the first time I noticed it.
It allows you to run two apps side by side, the way you've long been able to on traditional computers.
That means I can keep up with Facebook on the top half of the screen, as I send email from the bottom half about all the dumb things my friends are saying on Facebook.
Unfortunately, it works with a limited number of apps. Foursquare and Instagram aren't among them. And I needed an online video tutorial to figure it out.
- Air View
When you point to an email or calendar entry with your finger, you see contents pop up in a bubble.
That way, you don't have to open the entry and find the back button to return to what you were doing. Samsung has this feature on the Galaxy Note 2 phone, but that's designed for use with a stylus.
On the S4, you simply hover over the entry with your finger.
I wish it would work with more apps.
For instance, you can use it with Android's generic email app, but you can't on the one made specifically for Gmail.
All of these would benefit from being part of Android rather than an add-on from Samsung.
Easy Mode would truly be easy if it were designed from the start that way rather than as something that couldn't fully separate itself from the main Android.
More apps would work with Multi Window and Air View if they were standard features, not ones app makers have to adapt for one by one.