With the Android 12 stable release right around the corner, major smartphone giants have started showing off their latest software skins. While companies like OnePlus and Oppo have already released OxygenOS 12 and ColorOS 12 beta builds for their flagship phones, Samsung is not far behind. Samsung’s Android 12-based One UI 4.0 software skin is also here and is rolling out for the Galaxy S21 series. With One UI 4 getting its latest beta last week, things look pretty exciting. If you are a Samsung user wanting to know all the latest features in One UI 4, well, we have you covered. We have listed the 25 most exciting features and improvements you can look forward to in One UI 4.0.
One UI 4.0: All the New Features and Changes (2021)
The list below represents a wide assortment of additions and improvements coming to Samsung’s One UI Android skin. While One UI 4 gets its share of Samsung-exclusive features, if Android 12 functionality is all you are looking for, use the table below to jump straight to it.
1. Material You Wallpaper Theming
One of the best new Android 12 features that users will appreciate is the intense level of customization offered by Material You. The design language provides creative freedom to users, enabling them to customize even the finer aspects of their phone. Taking your wallpaper as a base, Material You theming in One UI 4 allows users to choose from custom color palettes that are applied system-wide.
Samsung’s One UI 4 has fortunately embraced this feature. Users who now apply wallpapers on their phones will get various theme color options to choose from. Inspired directly from the wallpaper’s colors, these custom color themes apply all over the phone, including apps that support Material You, and look amazingly attractive. The Material You-based theming has to be our favorite One UI 4 feature right now.
2. Samsung RAM Plus
While smartphones already come with sufficient memory these days, there are times you just that extra boost while gaming or multitasking on the move. For those times, Samsung has brought its popular RAM Plus feature in One UI 4. To those unaware, RAM Plus provides the user with virtual RAM by using 4GB of onboard storage as a replacement.
RAM Plus can be important for the times your Samsung device needs that extra speed. While you cannot increase or decrease this virtual memory allotment, this new One UI 4 feature is a good one to have nevertheless.
3. Home Screen Widget Redesign
Home screen widgets have now been redesigned in an effort to be better organized and informative. The new widget menu has been neatly divided vertically (same as stock Android 12) and features easy selection options. The widgets themselves are now more detailed than before and offer more info at a glance. Making the entire widget experience smarter and more stylish, One UI 4 is taking ambitious steps towards a cleaner UI.
4. Media Output Menu on Lock Screen
While the media output button was introduced in Android 11-based One UI 3, Samsung’s One UI 4 has now made it accessible on the lock screen. The media output menu lets select users various audio devices through which they can play music from the lock screen itself. It is certainly a handy feature to have on your smartphone.
5. Quick Settings Panel Redesign
While Google has completely revamped the Quick Settings panel in Android 12, Samsung has stuck with the “don’t fix what ain’t broken” ideology. The Quick Settings panel in One UI 4 looks the same as its predecessor, with minor UI changes here and there. An easily visible change is the redesigned brightness slider, which is now bigger and easier to navigate.
Melding Samsung’s own design language with Google, the brightness slider is easier to use and looks attractive with rounded corners. The notification shade itself is now a bit less transparent than before and puts more focus on the content itself.
6. Dark Mode Is Smarter
A big part of using any smartphone these days is the dark mode that is pleasing to the eye. Samsung knows the same and has brought along a few subtle changes to its own version.
One UI 4 now features a dark mode that automatically adjusts the home screen and its icons to be a bit darker. This subtle tinting is done across the home screen and is much appreciated. No doubt, it has been done to make using the UI more comfortable and consistent. So yeah, the improved dark mode is a welcome change in One UI 4.
7. Camera UI Changes
The Samsung Camera app now feels less confusing with the One UI 4 update. Samsung has replaced the tree zoom icons with numbers, making it abundantly clear what level of zoom you are on. The Pro Mode has received the same treatment with the icons and experience now being simpler than before. You will also notice a few minor animation upgrades when switching through the various levels of focus.
The scene optimizer button will now only show when a scenario has low lighting conditions. One UI 4 also brings a handy feature that lets users record a locked video while in photo mode. To do that, swipe up to lock, and you are set. Moreover, Samsung’s Single Take feature now allows you to add extra time if those precious few seconds aren’t enough. The entire camera experience is now easier to use and more pleasant in One UI 4.
8. Multitasking Improvements
Multitasking in One UI 4 is now more efficient with minor changes here and there. For starters, the window options no longer need to be clicked repeatedly. You can now easily pin the window options to the top of a floating window, thereby getting easy access.
Even edge panels are now easier to use along with other apps for more convenience. Moreover, picture-in-Picture windows across apps can now be resized using pinch to zoom. Also, multitasking itself now features smoother animations and a better user experience.
9. Samsung Keyboard Upgrades
While Gboard has remained the gold standard when we talk about Android keyboards, the Samsung Keyboard is getting a feature or two with One UI 4. Expressing yourself has become even easier as options for stickers, emojis, and GIFs are now better categorized and neatly divided into various buttons. The One UI 4 update also brings with it the option to combine two different emojis (like Gboard’s emoji kitchen) into an animation. The end result looks nice with support for a lot of combinations.
Besides choosing emojis, users now get text correction prowess powered by Grammarly. While only available in English (US) right now, you can expect support for more languages to arrive soon. If Samsung keeps this up, its keyboard just might rival Gboard really soon.
10. New Share Sheet
The share sheet remains pertinent for sending files across various apps through your Samsung phone. While One UI 3.1 has a pretty decent share sheet, One UI 4 makes it even better. Things have now been rounded up more as the sharing menu has turned horizontal. Users can now horizontally scroll across various apps and take their pick.
If you are tired of tapping apps, One UI 4 now lets users add their favorite apps to the menu for easy sending. However, even if you don’t do that, it will pick your most-used apps for that category. The sharing menu will now even suggest you polish up the image if it has weird dimensions.
11. Gallery and Photo Editing Improvements
As part of One UI 4’s various media features, the Gallery and Camera are getting their own series of touch-ups. Stories in the Gallery app will now show a short video preview on the cover. Also, you can now see where a specific photo was taken on a map and sorting images is getting easier as the search now includes helpful suggestions.
Editing gets a bump too, as users can now add stickers and emojis to photos using the built-in editor. As for some serious editing chops, the object eraser tool is here and allows one to completely remove a chosen object through intelligent image algorithms. You can even edit metadata of photos and revert them to stock even after saving an edit. Pretty handy, right?
12. Revamped Device Care Menu
The Device Care menu in Samsung phones is a good way for users to run a quick battery and security checkup on their device. Now, with the latest One UI 4 update, this handy menu has gotten a visual touch-up for enhanced accessibility. The overall status of your phone is now shown as an emoji instead of a score. Categories like Battery and Storage now get their own dedicated bubbles. Plus, the app is compatible with Material You theming and adopts colors from the wallpaper.
If you are a stickler for battery life, you will now find the Protect battery feature here itself. Once enabled, Protect Battery will limit the maximum charge level to 85%, thereby expanding the battery’s lifespan.
13. New Mic Mode for Video Calls
One UI 4 also introduces a new mic mode toggle that gives users various options for the phone’s microphone. Promising to improve audio quality in video calls, the mic mode might be a useful feature for working professionals.
14. New Charge Animation
Exactly as the title says, One UI 4 now has a new charging animation that is equal parts informative and attractive. Plugging in the phone now brings up a colorful greenish-yellow circle on the lockscreen. It contains various hues along with a bold battery percentage text. The new animation is a much-needed step up from One UI 3.1, which had a decent battery indicator.
15. Extra Dim Toggle
Is minimum brightness not minimum enough for you? Well, similar to Android 12, the One UI 4 update brings with it an Extra Dim toggle setting that can dim the screen beyond the minimum brightness settings. You can even adjust the intensity and darken out the display even further. Moreover, besides the quick panel toggle, users can add a shortcut that sits right beside the navigation buttons.
16. Picture-in-Picture Now Has Rounded Corners
Picture-in-Picture in One UI 3.1 worked as advertised but looked out of place with its sharp corners. One UI 4 fixes that by rounding the corners of PIP windows. The change has been applied system-wide and works across streaming apps, including YouTube and Netflix. So the next time you open a YouTube video on your Galaxy S21 running the latest One UI beta build, try it out.
17. Bixby Routine Improvements
If you favor Samsung’s voice assistant over Google’s, you already know about Bixby routines and how well they can work if used regularly. Bixby now gets more conditions to set routines in One UI 4. The new routine conditions allow Bixby to tell you about certain notifications that contain your chosen keyword.
You can ask Bixby to tell you once the battery has been fully charged too. Advanced options allow users to have Bixby wait before or after the next action has been performed. Editing has gotten easier as certain Bixby conditions have now been unlocked and give even more opportunities for customization.
18. Always on Display Lights up for New Messages
You can now choose to customize your AOD even further. One UI 4 now has a new setting that only enables the Always-on Display when the user receives a new notification. What’s the benefit of this, you ask? Well, it will ultimately help get timely notifications while saving battery. Want more? You can now add new stickers to the always-on display on your Samsung phone.
19. AR Emoji in Contacts
Always wished you could customize an AR emoji for your contact card? No? Well nevertheless, One UI 4 brings with it the option to set an AR emoji as your contact picture. Found after tapping your contact, you can now customize and choose an AR emoji to make it your profile picture for your Samsung account. Besides outfitting your AR emoji with a variety of clothes, you can have them pose the way you like – just as you do in Bitmoji.
20. Customizable Screen Flash Notification
Flash notification is an accessibility feature in One UI 4 that lights up the camera flash or screen whenever you receive notifications or your alarm rings. While built as an accessible tool, Screen flash is useful for any type of user.
The recent One UI 4 update brings about a slight tweak to it. Users can now choose specific apps that will make the screen flash. The setting is not restricted to messaging either, as all kinds of apps, including Spotify, are available on the list.
21. Digital Wellbeing Driving Mode
Part of Google’s slew of Android enhancements, Digital Wellbeing is a useful feature that helps maintain a balance between technology and real life. While it largely remains the same, there’s a new mode for drivers in tow here. The new Driving Monitor mode will essentially monitor your screen time while driving and see which apps you use the most.
It will do that while the phone is connected through the car’s Bluetooth and help keep your eyes on the road. Don’t worry, as you can exclude certain apps like Google Maps from being monitored.
22. Better Search Suggestions
Search now has better search suggestions across the Settings app. Giving more specific tags in One UI 4, the search suggestions offer various settings across categories that users can access with one click. If you ever wanted even easier access, then you have it.
23. Monthly Calendar Widget on Lock Screen
Besides the widgets on the home screen, even the widgets on the lock screen are getting a refresh. The Calendar widget, in particular, can now display additional information. And double-tapping the clock shows the monthly calendar along with the daily schedule, so you can now see all your details at a glance.
24. Voice Recorder on Lock Screen
Taking voice memos is now even easier as you can add a voice recorder widget right to your lock screen. One UI 4’s widget improvements are a welcome addition as users don’t even need to unlock their phones to record voice notes anymore.
25. Samsung Internet
While we doubt you use anything else except Google Chrome or a privacy-centric browser like Brave, the Samsung Internet browser has also received minor design improvements. Like Settings, the search suggestions in the browser have been improved, and you now have a separate section for it.
Samsung Internet also has a new widget that users can employ to search the web right from their home screen. It works similar to Google’s search widget and redirects to your browser of choice.
Android 12 Features in One UI 4.0
Besides the similar Material You wallpaper theming system, Samsung has mostly stuck to its own design philosophy for the One UI 4. However, there are also some of the best Android 12 features included in it. Depending on the type of execution, these features are either identical or Samsung’s own version of it. Some of which included in the One UI 4 are:
1. Camera and Mic Access Toggles
Android 12 brought about various privacy features that users received with love. One of which is the quick privacy toggles that can disable a phone’s camera and mic. Samsung’s One UI 4 has adopted the same approach and included these in the quick settings panel. Titled ‘Camera’ and ‘Mic’ Access respectively, these toggles block off the device’s components until turned back on.
2. Privacy Indicators
Another handy privacy-centric feature added in Android 12 is the privacy indicators. Put simply, privacy indicators appear in the status bar at the top whenever an app accesses the phone’s camera or microphone. I bet many of you are already using this feature on your phones via apps like Access Dots, Privacy Indicators are another Android 12 functionality in One UI 4.
3. Safety and Emergency Menu
Another feature coming for the ride from stock Android 12 is the Safety and Emergency Menu. Used in life-threatening situations, this handy section allows One UI 4 users to store their medical information and emergency contacts as a proactive action.
4. Samsung’s Permission Usage History
Tying into Android 12’s commitment to enhanced user privacy, Samsung’s Permission Usage History is the company’s version of the Privacy Dashboard.
Based on a similar principle, Samsung’s permission usage feature keeps track of the various apps that use device permissions like camera, microphone, location, and more. Another handy security addition is that now users get pop-ups on their Samsung devices anytime an app requests your precise location.
5. Android 12 Easter Egg
Ending the list with something traditional to Android, One UI 4 users can go to the software information page on their phones to see the Android 12 easter egg. Tap the Android version number rapidly, and make sure to set the clock to midnight by rotating the minutes arm to see it. Oh, and did we mention that even the easter egg in One UI 4 adapts to the wallpaper’s color too?
Which One UI 4.0 Feature Do You Like?
Samsung’s One UI 4 brings about a plethora of features and improvements that Galaxy S21 series users can experience right now. Since it’s only the second beta, we can expect many of these features to improve along with more added in the near future. If anyone is interested in becoming part of the action, check out our step-by-step guide on how to install One UI 4 beta on your Samsung Galaxy S21 right now. Do let us know your feedback in the comments section below.