One UI 4 Beta program lets Galaxy S21 users try out Android 12
Ahead of the iPhone 13 launch tomorrow, Samsung has just announced an incentive to keep some users from switching: a major software update for the Galaxy S21 series. Starting September 14th, owners of the Galaxy S21, S21+, or S21 Ultra in select countries can try out the Android 12 update ahead of its stable release. The One UI 4 Beta program officially begins tomorrow in the U.S., and we’ll of course be doing a hands-on of the new update when we get our hands on it, but for now, here’s a preview of what to expect.
Samsung confirmed today that the Galaxy S21’s One UI 4 Beta update will be based on Android 12, which means it will inherit a lot of the new features Google is introducing in the new OS version. The company says that One UI 4 “introduces new and improved customization and privacy capabilities that give users control over many aspects of their mobile experience” but falls short of confirming if Material You‘s wallpaper-based theming is included. However, they do state that there will be “a wealth of theme options [to] let you adjust the look and functionality of your device, giving you tools to configure your home screen, icons, notifications, wallpapers and much more.” We’ll have to wait and see what the settings menu looks like in the One UI 4 Beta to confirm how extensive the theming options really are, but Samsung is already one of the better OEMs when it comes to theming.
Samsung also confirms that One UI 4 brings new “redesigned, upgraded widgets” that offer “deep customization” from their visibility to their appearance. The company shared a screenshot of what some of their widgets look like. They also shared an image of the AR Emoji Studio app, which provides “a more robust and diverse array of emojis all in one place, so you can effortlessly navigate your options to enjoy richer communication experiences.”
Next, Samsung highlighted some of the new privacy and protection features available in the One UI 4 beta. A status bar indicator will alert the user when apps are using the camera or microphone. The new privacy dashboard shows the extent of permission usage by apps, offers a timeline of permission accesses, and provides easy access to manage permissions. These privacy features are part of Android 12, so they will be available on all devices running the new OS. Samsung says it has expanded upon Android 12’s privacy dashboard, though, as its software shows permissions history from the last seven days and not just the last 24 hours.
The One UI 4 Beta will be available for users with the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra in China, India, Germany, Poland, South Korea, the UK, and the US. To enroll, you’ll need to download the Samsung Members app and click on the in-app banner once it shows up. Samsung will collect feedback from participants to fine-tune the One UI 4 user experience before rolling out the stable update later this year. Google plans to roll out Android 12 to Pixel phones in early October, so Samsung won’t be too far behind.