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.
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