Samsung has announced the availability of an Android 12 public beta for Galaxy S21 devices, just a few weeks before the final OS is expected to be available for the first time on Pixel phones. Samsung boasts that it manages to get these betas out a week or two early every year, however it’s only by a week or two this year compared to 2020.
The beta programme will open for registration on September 14th, the same day the iPhone 13 will be introduced. To try it, users must first register in the Samsung Members app, and if history repeats itself, the number of open slots will be limited. It is now only available in the United States. The beta is for Samsung’s One UI 4, which is its own version of Android. That distinction is crucial because one of the most noticeable differences in Android 12 is its appearance. All of the buttons on a Pixel phone are large, and the colours vary dynamically based on your wallpaper, a design Google calls “Material You.”
We don’t know how much of Google’s design language Samsung will utilize on the Galaxy S21 phone yet. One UI already featured a plethora of theming possibilities, and Samsung’s shop was brimming with more that customers could purchase (though most are fairly garish). Theme options are notably mentioned in Samsung’s list of what’s new in One UI 4. Samsung is also integrating Android 12’s graphic indicators for microphone and camera usage. It will also feature toggles for entirely turning off the sensors. New widgets will also be welcome, as the majority of them have grown to seem a touch dated across most Android versions. Samsung’s widgets, as you can see at the top of this piece, are at least clean and have large rounded corners. However, they don’t go as far as Google’s new widgets.
With Material You, Google is becoming more opinionated on how Android should look on its Pixel phones, and a significant question will be whether those beliefs translate effectively to non-Google phones. For the past few years, Samsung has been heading in a very consistent visual direction, but it’s one that uses more white space and larger typefaces than Google’s latest designs. However, we can see Samsung using some of the larger, bubbly rounded corners for notifications.
Owners of the Galaxy S21 will find out as soon as they go deeper into the public beta that whether there is a match between the two appearances or whether on a Samsung homescreen, Google widgets might appear out of place. They can also clarify their doubts on whether Samsung will accept the new locations for Android’s many system functions that have been relocated.