Samsung Galaxy S5

Looking for a more Googley GS5 experience? Here are eight ways to get started ...

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the hot new Android phone of the moment, with waterproof credentials, a new soft-touch plastic rear and a highly capable 16-megapixel camera. But one major sticking point for Android purists is Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. Though it's been pared back, flattened and de-bloated in its latest revision, TouchWiz remains a polarizing UI. And some of us just prefer the simpler look of vanilla Android.

Fortunately, thanks to Google rolling out many of its own Android apps freely on the Play Store, it's easier than ever for GS5 owners to switch to a setup closer to stock Android. Head past the break to find out how.

Google Calendar


Google's stock calendar app is an easy download from Google Play if you're not feeling the Samsung Calendar app (called "S Planner" on some international models).

To avoid duplicate notifications from the built-in calendar, head to Menu>Settings>Event Notification in that app, and choose "Off" under "Select Alert Type."

Google Keyboard


Samsung's built-in keyboard, based upon the SwiftKey SDK, is pretty good on the Galaxy S5, providing a full row of number keys and continuous input. Google's own Android keyboard app is a great alternative though, and it's freely available on Google Play. (We'd also recommend taking a look at the full version of SwiftKey for even more accurate predictions.)

Using Hangouts for SMS

Hangouts SMS

Since late last year the Google Hangouts app has had the ability to handle SMS and MMS as well as instant messages. (You'll probably have seen a notification about this the first time you powered your phone on.)

To have Google Hangouts handle your text messages instead of the built-in Samsung Messages app, go to Settings>Applications>Messages>Default messaging app and choose Hangouts. You may then need to select which Google account you'll associate with SMS messages — that'll determine which account shows your text messages, if you have multiple Google accounts.

Use a custom launcher

Google Now Launcher

There's no Google Play edition Galaxy S5 just yet, but that doesn't mean you can't make your GS5 look like a Nexus phone. Nova Launcher and Apex are both worth a look, and can be extensively customized to bring your GS5 closer to Google's vision of Android.

It's also possible to download the Google Now Launcher on the Galaxy S5 and bring a more Google-centric home screen experience to your device. (Things can go a bit wonky, however, if you use Ultra Power Saving Mode.)

The Google Now Launcher brings Google's predictive search engine to your home screen, along with clean, simple arrangement for your icons and widgets. Google's launcher also includes all the static wallpapers from the Nexus 5, giving you an alternative to Samsung's garish multicolored backgrounds.

Also be aware that some TouchWiz widgets — including Weather and the full-page calendar widget — only work within Samsung's home screen launcher.

Once your custom launcher is installed, you can toggle between it and the TouchWiz launcher through Settings>Applications>Default Applications>Home. (And if you're no longer using Samsung's weather widget, you can disable this on your lock screen through Settings>Sound and Display>Lock screen)

Sun Beam Live Wallpaper

Sun Beam

Ported from the original two Google Play edition handsets last year, Shen Ye's Sun Beam Live Wallpaper is identical to the red-hued animated background you'd find preloaded on GPe devices.

Google Camera — and a word of warning

Google Camera

With the recent launch of the Google Camera app on Google Play, it's now possible for any Android 4.4 KitKat device to use the stock Android camera app, with features like Photosphere and the new lens blur effect.

You'll miss out on many of the Galaxy S5 camera's more advanced features, however, including the wide range of image tweaks, and advanced modes like Shot & Mode and Virtual Tour. So this may be one to skip if you're a keen photographer.

More: What's new in the Google Camera app, Galaxy S5 camera review

Recommended extras: Muzei and DashClock Widget

Muzei + DashClock

Googler Roman Nurik has created two apps which are ideal add-ons for a Googlified Galaxy S5. DashClock gives you a customizable widget showing the time and any number of extensions from a range of built-in and third-party apps.

And Muzei Live Wallpaper brings beautifully blurred wallpaper to your phone, with a wide array of extensions allowing you to plug in fresh images from various sources. Check out our round-up of some of the best Muzei add-ons to get started.

More: Galaxy S5 review, Everything you need to know about the Galaxy S5