One of the benefits of owning an iPhone is that iPhone users can expect regular software updates, even for aging phones, and a similar, polished user experience across Apple devices. The same cannot be said for phones running Android, as each manufacturer offers its own take on Google’s mobile operating system, including unique skins, features, and apps for different devices. While this distinction has the benefit of affording Android users greater customizability and choice when selecting a device, the drawback is that the custom software experiences offered by different manufacturers can vary greatly in quality. Samsung, the South Korean company which for years has dominated the Android smartphone market, has long been plagued by complaints about bloatware and the presence of redundant features that are difficult or impossible to disable. The first version of One UI, which came bundled with the ninth version of Android as a software update in 2018, sought to address these criticisms by streamlining the user experience across the board, introducing easy-to-read UI elements and other user-oriented features. Now, for 2020, Samsung is introducing One UI 2, which will be pushed to compatible devices in the coming weeks and months.
One UI 2.0 comes with Android 10, Google’s latest iteration of its mobile operating system, and additionally includes a number of features and improvements in an attempt to enhance the smartphone experience beyond what Google offers with stock Android. While the debut of One UI radically transformed the look and feel of Samsung phones, One UI 2 is more of an iterative update, building upon the new experience the company revealed just a few years ago. One UI 2.0 has been available in beta form for some users for months, but the update only recently began rolling out to regular users. While Samsung does not provide exact release dates for its software updates, the company has said that the update will be rolled out in phases throughout the year, with the most popular phones, including the S9 and S10, receiving One UI 2 in January and the rest of Samsung’s lineup of compatible devices receiving it as late as September. As software updates grow increasingly complicated and remain prone to bugs and security vulnerabilities, Samsung has opted to take its time distributing the update to its many devices, trying to ensure that ordinary users enjoy a smooth and polished software experience.
One UI 2 contains new features designed to improve both the aesthetics and functionality of Samsung devices. For instance, the Dark Mode feature has been improved in One UI 2, which enables a black background with white text throughout nearly all of the software design. The update also enables Navigation Gestures, a method of using swipes to switch between apps that would look familiar to users of the newest iPhones. Also familiar to Apple fans is the introduction of Digital Wellbeing features, which aim to help users understand how frequently they use their devices and offer tools for limiting the duration of users’ engagement with their smartphones. Many of the other improvements built into One UI 2 take place behind the scenes, as Samsung has integrated enhancements to WiFi, audio and video codecs, and graphics processing software, which likely will benefit speed, stability, and battery life. And the company has also improved its software’s accessibility options, making their phones more useful to disabled users with options like high-contrast UI elements and even amplification of ambient noises when using the Galaxy Buds.
Android phones have long been criticized for being slow to receive updates, and Samsung’s phones are no different, as the months-old Android 10 is currently only available on a handful of the company’s products. Nonetheless, the upcoming release of One UI 2, with its impressive suite of bespoke features, shows that Samsung is committed to maintaining a quality user experience for its customers, even if it takes some time for the company to polish its software to meet the standards of the general public.