With Android 12 development nearing the finish line, it's time for Android phone makers to get their own takes on the phone software ready for the big update. And it sounds like Samsung is getting a jump on the process.
Samsung today (Sept. 13) announced that it's going to launch a beta program of One UI 4, the new version of its user interface based on Android 12. Galaxy S21 users in select markets — including the U.S. — will have the chance to register for the beta program using the Samsung Members app on their phone. Enrollment kicks off tomorrow (Sept. 14).
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The timing probably isn't coincidental. Samsung is launching its One UI 4 beta program on the same day Apple prepares to launch the iPhone 13 while also prepping for iOS 15's release. A new beta program isn't going to overshadow Apple's big day, but it does give Samsung Galaxy S21 users a software update of their own to track.
Previous One UI beta programs have gotten underway in October usually, so this is definitely an earlier launch than usual for Samsung. There's no word on whether that means the user interface will be ready earlier than normal, bringing Android 12 to Samsung device owners. Typically, Samsung flagships start to get the new version of One Ui around the end of the year.
Introduced for the first time three years ago, One UI is Samsung's take on Android. The interface is marked by rounded icons and a streamlined interface aimed at making it easier to use larger phones with one hand.
This version of One UI draws heavily on Android 12 for its features — or at least, for the features Samsung is talking about at this point. Samsung promises more theme options for adjusting your device's look, along with tools for configuring the home screen, icons, notifications and wallpapers on your phone. One UI 4 is also focusing on upgrading widgets for greater customization as well. And or course, expect a lot of emjois to be added in this update.
In addition, Samsung is touting new privacy features in One UI 4 such as indicator alerts when apps are using the microphone or camera on your phone. One UI 4 also extends permission options to show history up to seven days instead of just 24 hours.
Android 12 is currently in beta, though the fifth and final version has come out. That signifies a launch is near, and a new report claims Android 12 will be released on Oct. 4. Highlights of the release include a new Material You design, improvements to Quick Settings, and the aforementioned Widgets enhancements.
Editors' Note: Updated at 9:29 p.m. ET to add more information about One UI 4.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.