Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority
Samsung has made excellent progress with its software over the decade, and we can see that on all the great Samsung phones. What once used to be criticized as the weakest point of the brand’s phones has now become the driving force behind the user experience and connected ecosystem. One UI has evolved to have its own fan base now, and due credit goes to all the features that Samsung has added over the years. Here are all the features that Samsung has added to One UI through updates!
When is One UI 6 coming out?
One UI 6 is a major release for Samsung’s user experience skin, as it will include a rebase to Android 14 and all of those platform features within itself. As such, Samsung will have to wait for Google to publicly release the stable version of Android 14 before it can release One UI 6 builds for its phones.
Google will release Android 14 with the launch of the Google Pixel 8 series. This is expected to happen in late September or early October, giving us the rest of October as the window for the rollout of the first stable One UI 6 releases for Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
One UI 5.1.1
One UI 5.1.1 is an iterative upgrade largely focused on refining existing features for foldables and tablets. Here are the highlights for this update:
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Flex Mode becomes easier to use on foldables. The panel’s icons now float up the screen and allow for easy access. Users can now customize the panel by choosing which icons can show up.
The media bar on the Flex Mode now has a 10-second fast forward and rewind button and is placed conveniently. It also allows for easier scrubbing through the media progress bar if you want some granular control.
Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority
On foldables and tablets, multitasking is getting a small upgrade. You can now quickly and easily open the Samsung Internet Browser in a pop-up floating window by just dragging it out of the taskbar, in case you want to do a quick Google search. Once you are done, you can drag the browser to the edge of the screen, where it will snap out of view. If you want to access the browser again, tap the pop-up on the side, and the window will open at its previous location.
If you find floating windows distracting, One UI 5.1.1 now has a gesture for quickly switching a pop-up window into a multiwindow. Just press and hold the handle at the top of the pop-up window.
Two-handed drag and drop
On foldables and tablets, you can now use a two-handed drag-and-drop feature. You can now open your source app with one hand, select your files or other items, and then use your other hand to open the destination app and drop the items there.
This feature has been added specifically to the Galaxy Z Fold and the Galaxy Tab S series. The taskbar on these devices can now hold up to four recent apps, making it easier to switch between them for multitasking.
One UI 5.1
One UI 5.1 is another iterative upgrade that brings together a lot of smaller changes under one update. There aren’t many visual changes aside from some lock screen customization options.
Within the Camera app, you can now quickly change the color tone of selfies using the Effects button at the top of the screen. Further, the camera app now has a quick-access shortcut to the Expert RAW app, which helps more users discover it.
The Gallery app gets a more powerful search feature that can search for more than one person or subject at a time. You can even search for people by tapping their faces too.
The remastering function has improved, and you can now remaster GIFs too. The Gallery app will now recommend pictures you can add to your shared family album by recognizing the faces of your selected family members. The photo info screen now has a simpler layout, too.
Multitasking got easier with One UI 5.1. When starting a split screen view, your most used apps will now show up below your recently used apps, covering most of your use cases on your phone. You can now also minimize or maximize an app window by dragging on the corners.
Multiwindow on DeX is also improved. Dragging the divider in the middle of the screen will resize both adjacent windows. You can also snap a window to a corner to make it fill that quadrant of the screen.
Modes and Routines
Much like iOS 16, Samsung added the ability to set a different wallpaper based on your routine. Routines can now be customized with more parameters, like changing your ringtone and font style.
The Weather app has received a few good updates. There’s now a summary when you launch the app. You can also see an hourly graph for precipitation. The widget has also received some love, as it now summarizes the current weather conditions.
Samsung’s browser app can now search through the names of bookmark folders and tab groups and even be lenient with spellings. There are also ecosystem play features here, letting you continue browsing on another Galaxy phone or tablet as long as you are signed into the same Samsung account.
Some of the other more minor changes are summarized below:
- The new battery widget shows the charge levels of all your connected devices.
- The Settings app will now recommend more ecosystem features you could use.
- Users can now change the folder where screenshots and screen recordings are saved.
- The Smart Suggestions widget can now recommend Spotify tracks and playlists based on your current activity as long as you are signed into the Spotify app.
One UI 5
One UI 5 was the most significant change to Samsung’s operating system in recent memory. Thanks to the platform upgrade to Android 13 that came alongside, One UI 5 brought along many changes.
One of the first things you will notice when installing One UI 5 is that all the icons are a little larger. Some apps also get new icons, bringing them a consistent look around the rest of the ecosystem. Samsung has also changed the background gradients and improved the contrast on these icons.
Samsung has also changed animations and transitions, which should help make the update feel snappier. The background blur effect on the quick panel, homescreen, and throughout the rest of the UX has also been tweaked.
You can now set background colors on call screens, too, letting you quickly know who is calling by just the color (and the name and other information displayed).
In addition to these changes, Samsung is making it easier to customize more comprehensive features. You can now customize various aspects of the lockscreen with different clock styles, notification settings, and more, with live previews for the changes.
Samsung has also added more wallpaper options and more wallpaper-based color palettes for themes.
With One UI 5, you can stack several widgets of the same size into a single widget to save space on your homescreen. Once stacked, you can swipe around the widgets without swiping away on the homescreen pane.
There is also a new Smart Suggestions widget that analyzes your phone usage patterns and offers suggestions. It can suggest apps to use, people to call, and more.
As part of the upgrade to Android 13, One UI 5 included some heavy-duty changes to notifications.
For starters, all apps have to now explicitly be allowed notifications, which is a complete reversal from past versions of Android where all apps could start with notification permissions. Further, you can go directly to the app notification settings using the button at the bottom of the notification panel.
App icons in notifications are now more prominent. Text alignment has also been changed, promising to make it easier to read. Moreover, you can now separately control whether apps can show pop-up notifications, app icon badges, and Lockscreen notifications as individual settings.
Modes and Routines
Samsung added a comprehensive Modes and Routines solution with this update. You can set what you are doing, and your phone will react accordingly. For example, Sleep mode can be auto-activated at a particular time of the day, and your phone could change the sound mode, turn on dark mode, and exit these settings once Sleep mode ends.
Routines are similar automation based on you toggling certain actions. For example, you can have routines set to start when you turn on Airplane mode or mobile hotspot or enable auto-rotation when you enter certain apps like YouTube and reverse the change when you exit them. Routines can now also open app pairs and adjust the left/right sound balance.
Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority
There are a few new multitasking gestures in One UI 5. Swipe upwards with two fingers from the bottom of the screen to switch from full screen to split screen view. You can also open apps in split screen from the Recents screen by dragging it to the side of the screen where you want to open it.
You can switch from full screen to pop-up view by swiping inward with one finger from the top left or right corner.
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
The Camera app has a few minor changes that add up to a meaningful experience:
- Thanks to a single swipe gesture, you can now zoom in and out quickly with one hand.
- Pro mode now has a histogram setting to check the brightness of each tone.
- Pro and Pro Video modes now have a help icon to guide you if you need assistance with the available buttons and features.
- You can now automatically add watermarks to your pictures, including date, time, your phone’s model name, and other custom information.
- You can now use the telephoto lens on your phone (in case it has one) to take close-up shots of food.
- The single-take mode has been simplified, with fewer options and shorter recording times, making it faster and easier to get great, usable shots.
- The app now makes it easier to select filters for photos and videos.
Much like the Camera app, the Gallery app also received some good changes:
- You can now customize which albums appear by default in the Gallery app.
- You can hide less frequently used albums to keep the clutter down.
- Albums with the same name can now be merged.
- You can also create auto-updating albums that include pictures of people you select.
- If you wanted Stories in your Gallery app, now you have Stories in your Gallery app. These stories that are automatically created can now have an interactive slideshow view.
- You can now create reusable stickers from any picture in your gallery.
- Animated GIFs can now be trimmed, adjusted, and further edited.
- Portrait mode effects can now be retained even after cropping or changing filters, letting you adjust the background blur at any time.
- You can now use the pen tool to draw shapes freehand and then hold down on the drawn shape to transform it into a clean shape with straight lines and perfect angles.
- 60 new emoji stickers have been added.
You can now extract text using the Samsung Keyboard, Internet, Gallery, or whenever you take a screenshot. Further, when a text appears in an image in Gallery, Camera, or other apps, actions will be recommended based on the text, like calling a number or visiting a URL.
Text extraction and suggestion features are supported only for English, Korean, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.
As part of the bump up to Android 13, you can now set languages on a per-app basis.
RAM Plus can now be turned off completely, which surprisingly wasn’t the case before. Samsung also has a controversial “device care” feature that schedules your phone to automatically restart when needed to keep your phone in the “best condition.” However, note that you could miss critical notifications if your phone restarts when you don’t expect it to and cannot unlock it right after the restart (as apps are allowed to initiate only after the first unlock).
The Do Not Disturb mode now has a few more settings. Individual contacts can be set as exceptions to DND. You can allowlist people so your phone can ring or vibrate even when DND is on. Apps can now also be set as exceptions to DND.
Security and privacy
A new Security dashboard in Settings shows whether your phone has any security issues and helps you quickly fix them.
Also, now the share panel will let you know when you attempt to share photos that could contain sensitive information, such as credit cards, ID cards, or passports, so you can reconsider your decision to share such images.
Most Samsung Galaxy smartphone users prefer using the Samsung Keyboard, as it gets the job done for the most part. Users can now choose which function keys and punctuation marks can appear in the keyboard’s bottom row, next to the spacebar. Further, the emoji, sticker, and other buttons can now be rearranged. You can also enter kaomoji directly from the keyboard, or if you are feeling like it, you can now use 80 additional emojis to create an emoji pair.
Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority
One UI 5 has a new settings menu listing called “Connected devices.” This combines all the features that work with other devices, such as Quick Share, Smart View, and Samsung DeX.
Other minor changes include the ability to hide notifications when mirroring your phone screen to the TV. You can also now play music to connected Chromecast devices through the Media Output button in the quick panel on your phone.
Samsung DeX now has a new search button that makes it easier to find apps. Much like how you can long press on an app icon on the homescreen to surface certain app actions, you can now right-click in DeX mode for these app actions.
DeX also has a new red dot on the notification button to indicate new notifications. A mini calendar opens up when you click on the date in the taskbar row.
AR Emoji and stickers
You can now choose many more AR Emoji stickers beyond the pre-installed options. You can use transparent backgrounds or select any picture on your gallery to create stickers. Further, you can pair up two emojis together with dances and poses.
Since this is a big update, plenty of small yet meaningful changes are scattered across the OS. Some of them have been summarized below:
- You can add several accessibility options to the quick panel.
- The accessibility button can be tapped and held to change the features accessed through the button.
- There are more surfaces available for voice assistance. You can make your phone read out keyboard input, use Bixby Vision to recognize nearby objects and tell you what they are, and turn on audio descriptions that explain what is happening in a video.
- For users relying on a mouse or trackpad for control, new actions (click and hold, drag, or drag and drop) are now available when you move the mouse pointer to one of the screen’s four corners.
- Clock: You can now run multiple timers simultaneously.
- Samsung Calendar:
- When you create a Google Calendar event in the Samsung Calendar app, you can choose whether invitees are allowed to see who else is invited, whether they can invite other people, and also add a video conference link right at the time of creation.
- A new Today category shows only reminders that are due for that day.
- You can show and hide completed reminders in any category.
- You can choose between simple and expanded views for reminders.
- Samsung Internet: Bookmarks can now be dragged and dropped between folders.
- My Files: Search within My Files has gotten a few upgrades:
- You can now choose to search all files on the phone or only files in the current folder.
- You can choose between searching only file names or for information inside files, such as text in documents or location information in images.
- Search results can now be sorted by name, date, size, or file type.
- Digital Wellbeing: The new dashboard makes reading and accessing its various features easier.
- Apps Edge Panel can now optionally show app names below the app icons.
- Quickly pressing the power button five times will call emergency services, even if your phone is in your pocket or you can’t talk.
- The emergency contact list created on your phone can also be used on your Galaxy smartwatch.
One UI 4
One UI 4 was a big update with Android 12 as the base. It brought along enhanced privacy protection features such as indicator dots for Camera and Microphone access, wallpaper-based theming and color palettes, an improved camera app, picture-in-picture functionality, and more.
Devices destined to be updated to One UI 4 have already been updated to this update. If you haven’t received a One UI 4 update to your device yet, there’s a strong chance that your device won’t receive the update.
On your Samsung Galaxy smartphone, go to Settings > Software Update > Download and Install. If an update is available, your phone will begin downloading the update. Once the update has been downloaded, you can immediately install it or schedule it to be installed soon. However, if no update is available, your device may not be eligible to receive One UI 5.
You should first check what version of One UI you are running, as the latest One UI version is 5.1.1 for foldables and tablets and 5.1 for other Galaxy smartphones. One UI 6 is also about to be released soon. Go to Settings > About Phone > Software Information on your Galaxy smartphone and check which version it says. Further, you should check for any pending updates by going to Settings > Software Update > Download and Install.
Samsung has one of the best update policies on Android. Most phones in its portfolio get One UI updates very quickly. However, as phones get older, they move down the company’s priority list, and the updates’ frequency slows down. Eventually, the updates will stop. Samsung promises four generations of Android updates and five years of security updates from the day the phone is launched, so you can check if your Samsung device is eligible for any further updates.
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