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As a longtime Apple touch-device user, I was really taken aback when I got my first Android phone (Galaxy SIII). In contrast with every Apple product I've used, the Galaxy had a bit of a lag time with all touch interactions. The result is that the system overall seems more sluggish.

Upon deeper research I discovered that this is a common complaint among Android users, and is very easily changed with third party apps (notably SGS Touch Screen Booster).

Why would Samsung (and possibly other Android manufacturers) create this latency in the first place, and not improve it by a simple tweaking of system variables?

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closed as off-topic by JohnGB, Benny Skogberg, greenforest, rk., Charles Wesley Jul 1 '13 at 15:23

  • This question does not appear to be about user experience within the scope defined in the help center.
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This is a performance issue question rather than something about intentional UX. It's like asking for the rationale behind a car not being more fuel efficient. – JohnGB Jul 1 '13 at 10:37
The reason of "overhead" may be the official one, but I still don't believe that these performance enhancements can be justified by blatant latency for a device that's primarily touch-based. After modifying the touch latency with that app, I've noticed no notable performance decreases despite heavy usage and low available memory. – ewittke Jul 1 '13 at 15:13
@JohnGB IMO it's more akin to driving a car that turns its wheels one second after you've turned the steering wheel. – ewittke Jul 1 '13 at 15:19
@EricWittke those are plausible beliefs, but if Google says it's a performance issue, who are any of us to say otherwise? – DA01 Jul 1 '13 at 15:32
The touch screen booster apps do not reduce the latency. The reduce the touch movement dead zone. Samsung has a minimum movement distance before the touch screen reports lateral movement to the OS. Until you've moved the minimum distance it will report a touch being held at the original point of contact. The latency still applies before this. – Locutus Oct 3 '13 at 8:27

Seems like if you Google this, you'll come across a fair amount of info on this. A few articles link to Andrew Munn's follow up to his article titled "The Reason Android is Laggy". Andrew summaries a response from Google employee Dianne Hackborn:

...suggest[s] that the increased security and flexibility of the Android platform over iOS is a cause of performance overhead and that increasingly fast hardware will help resolve the issue

Between the two articles, it appears that the lag is simply a performance issue--not a purposefully designed 'feature'.

Just a hunch, but I imagine part of that is due to Google not having direct say about a lot of the hardware Android goes on--combined with the fact that the OS has to support a wide range of devices. A lot of manufacturers want to compete on price and, as such, likely underpower the devices. And since so many devices want to run Android, the OS likely has to make accommodations for scenarios beyond the device you happen to be using.

As for the 'simple tweaking of system variables' I have another hunch that the app mentioned likely also has some trade offs. If it's increasing the performance of one thing, it's likely having to take away from the performance elsewhere.

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As I said above, I've noticed no performance decreases that would justify this latency on a touch-based device. – ewittke Jul 1 '13 at 15:17
@EricWittke I'm not sure I follow you. It sounds like the latency is just part of the OS engineering at this point. There's overhead going on that is causing it. – DA01 Jul 1 '13 at 15:31

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