The pandemic has changed our relationship with our phones and Samsung is upgrading accordingly

The pandemic has changed our relationship with our phones and Samsung is upgrading accordingly

Samsung Galaxy S21 (left) and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Sarah Tew/CNET

the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to work, go to school and socialize from home, which means that our technology has reached a new level of importance in our lives. Although the lockdowns are over, our time at home in 2020 has given Samsung lots of ideas on how smartphone the experience could be improved.

These takeaways surface in One UI 4, Samsung’s next major software update, which rolled out earlier this month from the Galaxy S21 series.

“We looked at pre-existing features and figured out what was being used the most because of the pandemic and we reinforced that,” Hyesoon Sally Jeong, Samsung vice president and head of framework research and development, said. CNET through a translator.

The update largely focuses on improving areas such as privacyease of use, personalization and communication, elements that Samsung noticed had become particularly important as many people began to spend more time on their phones during the shutdown period. It’s another example of the broader shift that has taken place in the tech industry as companies have begun to adapt their products to facilitate remote working and socializing.

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One such feature in Samsung’s update is the ability to record audio and video during conference calls, a remote learning-inspired addition. “We realized that our users might want to record audio or video while they have remote interactions with their teachers or students,” Jeong said. “Thus, teachers may want to record the audio or video lecture to monitor the lessons or sessions they taught students.”

But perhaps the biggest change that influenced Samsung’s strategy when designing One UI 4 was the increased time we spent on our smartphones. A recent study published in the JAMA Pediatrics Journal found that Screen time has doubled among teens during the pandemic, not to mention virtual learning.

As such, Samsung tries to make its smartphones easier to look at for long periods of time with upcoming cosmetic updates in One UI 4. “In terms of visual design, we have made many design-related decisions based on the key principle of comfort “, Hyun Kim, head of Samsung’s main user experience group, also told CNET via a translator. “Because screen time has increased, comfort for your eyes [and] reducing eye strain has become more important than ever.”

The company made cosmetic changes to its software, such as reducing the number of colors in the user interface and adjusting font size and layout. It also worked with google to enable screen dimming which is darker than previously possible when using the phone in low light environments. Samsung’s emoji pair feature – which lets you send two emojis at once – was also sparked by how we’ve relied on our phones to communicate and socialize in 2020.

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Samsung’s software update is just one example of the lasting impact the pandemic has had on the way tech companies design and build their products. This influence is found in Apple’s iOS 15 software, too. One of the key features of the update is SharePlay, which lets you easily watch movies and TV or listen to music with others via FaceTime. Such a feature would have been especially handy during the shutdown period, when many people were looking for ways to host virtual movie nights. Zoom.

CES 2021 also showcased tech companies’ best efforts to make products that reflect the lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic. Along with Razer’s high-tech face mask and a temperature-taking doorbell, we’ve also seen laptops with better cameras that were apparently designed for remote work.

Along with the additions mentioned above, One UI 4 also brings features such as a new privacy dashboard, the ability to choose whether or not to share your precise location with apps, more uniform widgets with rounded corners and more color palettes to customize your phone theme. The software is now available for the Galaxy S21 line and will soon be available on older Galaxy S phones, Galaxy A phones and Samsung’s foldable devices and tablets.