During this year's Samsung Developer Conference, the South Korean company announced a new user interface for its devices. One UI aims to simplify the software and, at the same time, make everything more visually appealing. We were able to test the beta made available by Samsung on our Galaxy S9+ and we are ready to give you our first impressions after 24 hours of use.
A Google-style make over
I was really impressed by this new interface. I never expected Samsung to make a visual restyling so similar to Google's Material Design. It features the classic icon roundness, white backgrounds for the various tabs and bright blue accents. At first I thought I was browsing the Android 9 Pie stock firmware, especially when the new notification bar made its first appearance with its quick toggle.
Samsung has also changed some of its app icons, a choice that I honestly didn't like much. Not because they didn't need it, but simply because they could have chosen better icons. The only thing that Samsung has not changed is the app drawer - even today it continues to scroll horizontally and not vertically, as it does on Android stock devices.
Night mode is finally here
One of the features I've been waiting for too long as a Samsung smartphone owner: night mode. It extends to the entire user interface and system apps (messages, settings, quick toggle and even Bixby) and is simply fantastic! Using night mode on the AMOLED display will certainly save battery, and besides, it gives the UI a look I love.
Everything at your fingertips
As they explained during their conference, Samsung wanted to redesign the user interface in accordance with the ever-growing size of smartphones. This is why they have moved the points of interaction at the bottom, while the top of the screen remains dedicated only to displaying information.
For example, by scrolling through the notification bar you will notice that the top half of the screen only displays the date and time, while the bottom incorporates all the quick toggles. This not only makes the buttons within an inch's reach, but the interface much cleaner.
You can see the same thing in each menu or submenu of the settings: the screen is divided in two with a huge space reserved for the title of the menu in which we are, while the lower part is dedicated to the various menu choices that you can scroll to extend them all.
New gestures to get used to
Another noteworthy change is the new navigation bar buttons: the home button is a little more round, while the one dedicated to multitasking is now represented by three vertical lines. If you don't like to use these buttons, Samsung has also included the ability to navigate through the interface using gestures.
The gesture controls are not the ones Google uses on its Pixel devices, they were designed by Samsung themselves. Basically, pressing the navigation buttons is replaced by vertical scrolling from the bottom of the screen. The idea is not bad at all and, like all gestures, you simply have to get used to it. The only thing I didn't like is the fact that the back button gesture doesn't give any haptic feedback, but it's possible that the company will implement it in due time.
Multitasking also has a completely new design. Recent apps now appear in tabs that you can scroll horizontally. To switch to an app, just swipe down. Swipe up to close an app.
Small but appreciable novelties
Finally, some other new features of the One UI you should know about are:
- The Always On Display does not always remain active, but you can simply tap the screen once or pick up your smartphone in your hand. In addition, it now displays information about charging and you can find new styles to customize it to your liking.
- One UI supports HEIF image format.
- The Samsung keyboard has a "mobile keyboard" option. With it you can move the keyboard to any position on the screen. It also will change its color depending on the color of the app used.
- The camera app offers "scene optimization" - it recognizes what we are photographing and automatically adjusts the settings of the scene.
- Bixby Home also has a new design, but there's nothing new in terms of functionality .
The Samsung One UI Beta is currently available for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ in Germany, the United States and South Korea. If you have the chance to try it, we want to remind you that it is still a first beta, which means that some apps may not work or crash at any time. The same applies to the entire operating system.
Will you immediately install the new One UI on your device or will you wait for the official launch by Samsung?