Samsung Shows How Complex Its New Android Philosophy Is
Samsung’s Android user experience (UX) has always offered innovative ways to interact with a smartphone and the company has now released a new infographic to help users track its somewhat difficult-to-follow progression from the first handset through to the incoming One UI and the philosophy it’s meant to embody. The company’s Android overlay started way back in 2010 with a UX the Korean tech giant called ‘TouchWiz’, setting its handsets apart from the competition with a Quick Panel for easily switching between apps. Building on that, in 2011 Samsung’s Live Panel brought information from apps to the home screen without the need to boot up the app itself. The Galaxy S3 brought an even bigger change to user interaction, introducing features to adjust brightness automatically when the user looked at its display. Samsung improved on that further in the following year with its Galaxy S4, bringing Smart Scroll and Smart Pause to the forefront. Those features allowed the company’s devices to scroll pages or pause media based on where the user is looking.
S Voice was also implemented in 2012 on the Samsung Galaxy S3. That would eventually evolve into Bixby on the Samsung Galaxy S8 in 2017 but Samsung spent the three years leading to that focused on aesthetics and providing users with useful information at a glance. The first change arrived with the Samsung Galaxy S5 in 2014 with a complete overhaul of UI elements and interactive features meant to improve the experience. In 2016, the company introduced the Samsung Galaxy S7 family of devices and an always-on display alongside a rebranding of TouchWiz to ‘Samsung Experience’. For the interceding year, the company’s now iconic curved ‘Edge’ panel was introduced with the Galaxy S6. That not only seems to have been inspired by the above-mentioned Live Panel but also seems to have inspired more work on extensions to usable screen space continued again in 2017 with Samsung’s DeX. Finally, Samsung introduced its user base to AR camera features and personalized emoji with the Galaxy S9 series last year.
Shifting to a more unified UI
The flow of movement from its first steps into the Android mobile area toward unification and refinement has not been the most straightforward path for Samsung. But it has moved the overall experience forward with successive generations. Set to be introduced with Android 9 Pie beginning with its flagship devices and on all devices moving forward, Samsung’s next step with One UI will fundamentally alter both interactions and aesthetics for users. The tech giant introduced One UI at Samsung Developer Conference 2018 in early November and has since released a video highlighting what users are in for. The primary tenant for changes with the update is enabling easy one-handed smartphone use for better productivity.
Summarily, that’s accomplished by focusing interactive elements to the lower portion of the display, where user’s hands are naturally placed while reducing visual clutter and placing other elements nearer the top of the display. Icons and other visual cues have been reworked to be closer to stock Android too, while minimalism takes on a more central role. Additionally, One UI includes a new Night mode that’s built on automation outlined above but taken to an entirely new level. With the new mode enabled, a handset’s screen brightness, color tones, and other aspects such as contrast adjust automatically to ensure the most comfortable viewing experience for the lighting in the user’s environment.
Rolling out right now – kind of
The software update containing the new UX is already beginning to roll out in some parts of the world for Samsung Galaxy S9 and Note 9 users. That has chiefly been for areas where the international version of the device is sold and carriers in some regions will undoubtedly slow things down. But those using the Snapdragon variant of Samsung handsets should see the update soon since the current company roadmap points to January and February for nearly all of its primary flagships. The Samsung Galaxy S8 family is the exception to that, according to Samsung’s roadmap featured in its dedicated ‘Members’ application. It should arrive in March for those two devices before rolling out to a number of mid-range and budget phones and tablets over the course of 2019.