Samsung's next update will make your Galaxy phone feel more like an iPhone
Samsung's Galaxy smartphones are getting a facelift, which should make their software feel more seamless and customizable. If you switch from an iPhone, it will also feel familiar.
At its annual developer conference on Tuesday, Samsung detailed the upcoming One UI 4 software update and outlined its strategy for the smart home, Tizen TV, and Bixby voice assistant. The new smartphone software has been available in beta since September, but the tech giant detailed its new features during its opening keynote at the conference. The update will be available starting with the Galaxy S21 series in late 2021 and will be rolled out on other Galaxy devices later.
Design is the main focus of One UI 4. You can match the phone's system theme to your wallpaper, and certain actions like setting an alarm or using the device's fingerprint sensor will trigger the sense of touch and sound. But some other features in the update feel a lot like the iPhone, notably more consistent gadgets and new privacy options. It's another sign that as smartphones have matured over the past decade, the feature gap between iOS and Android is starting to narrow.
For example, widgets in the One UI 4 have rounded corners, regardless of whether they are made by Samsung or a third party.
Based on what we saw in Samsung's demo, it looks a lot like the iPhone's home screen widget.
For customization, you can also set your AR emoji as your Samsung account avatar. This is similar to how iPhone users set Memoji to iMessage and Apple ID photos.
One of the biggest changes to the 2019 iPhone 11 is the QuickTake feature added to the camera app. This feature makes it easier to switch from photo mode to video mode by holding down the shutter button and dragging it to the right. Samsung device owners will get a similar shortcut when the One UI 4 starts up. This update lets you switch from photo mode to video mode by dragging from the camera shutter.
A UI 4 will also help Samsung devices catch up with the iPhone in terms of privacy. Galaxy smartphone owners will be able to choose whether to share their precise or approximate location in apps, an option Apple introduced in iOS 14 last year.
Since the advent of smartphones, Apple and Android device makers have been racing to introduce new features and capabilities to their mobile devices. This is a race that will never have a straight answer, and for most people, the right choice will largely depend on which operating system they are most comfortable with.
But throughout the history of smartphones, there have been some areas where the iPhone has been ahead of Android, and vice versa. The iPhone paved the way for modern smartphones by popularizing touch-centric interaction on mobile devices, and the industry remains obsessed with tiny keyboards. In recent years, Apple has generally been more forward-looking when it comes to consumer privacy.
But Android device makers pioneered many aspects of today's mobile user interface, offering key features like widgets and quick-set drop-down menus long before Apple. Companies like Samsung also released smartphones with larger screens years before the iPhone 6 Plus was introduced in 2014. Now, Samsung, Motorola, and Microsoft are all experimenting with foldable designs, while Apple has yet to mention the possibility of a foldable iPhone.