The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (left) and Galaxy S21 (right)
Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones are getting a facelift that should make their software feel more seamless and more customizable. It might also feel familiar if you’re switching from an iPhone. Samsung detailed its forthcoming One UI 4 software update during its annual developer conference on Tuesday, where it also outlined its strategy for the smart home, Tizen TVs and Bixby voice assistant. The new smartphone software has been available in beta since September, but the tech giant provided a detailed look at its new features during the conference’s opening keynote. The update will launch at the end of 2021 beginning with the Galaxy S21 series before rolling out to other Galaxy devices.
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Design is a major focus in One UI 4. You’ll be able to match your phone’s system theme to your wallpaper, and certain actions like setting an alarm or using the device’s fingerprint sensor will trigger haptics and sounds. But several other features coming in the update feel very iPhone-inspired, especially the more consistent widgets and new privacy options. It’s another sign that the gap in features between iOS and Android is starting to get smaller as smartphones have matured over the last decade. For instance, One UI 4’s widgets feature corners that are more rounded across the board, whether they’re made by Samsung or third parties.Based on what we’ve seen in Samsung’s presentation, that looks a lot like the iPhone’s home screen widgets.
The new widgets in Samsung’s One UI 4 will all have rounded corners, whether they’re third-party or Samsung widgets.
Here are the iPhone’s widgets for context.
When it comes to customization, you’ll also be able to set your AR emoji as your profile photo for Samsung accounts. This is similar to the way iPhone owners can set their Memoji as their iMessage and Apple ID photo.In One UI 4, you can set your AR emoji as the profile photo in your Samsung account. And here’s how Apple’s Memoji sticker looks when set as the profile photo for an Apple ID.You can set your Memoji sticker as your Apple ID photo.
Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET
One of the biggest changes to come to the iPhone 11 in 2019 was the addition of QuickTake in the camera app. This feature lets you switch from photo to video mode more easily by just holding the shutter button and then dragging it to the right. Samsung device owners will get a similar shortcut when One UI 4 launches. The update will let you move from photo to video mode simply by dragging up from the camera shutter.Here’s the demo Samsung showcased during its developer conference.Samsung’s One UI 4 update will make it easier to switch from photo to video mode in the camera app, much like the iPhone.
And here’s the iPhone’s QuickTake feature.
One UI 4 will also help Samsung devices catch up to the iPhone in terms of privacy. Galaxy smartphone owners will be able to choose whether they want to share their precise or approximate location with apps, an option that Apple introduced last year in iOS 14.Samsung is adding new privacy controls in its One UI 4 update.
Here are the similar privacy options available on the iPhone.
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET
Apple and Android device makers have been locked in a race to introduce new features and capabilities to their mobile devices first since the dawn of the smartphone. It’s a competition that will never have a straight answer, and the right choice for most people will largely come down to the operating system they’re most comfortable with.But throughout the course of smartphone history, there are a few areas in which the iPhone has pulled ahead of Android and vice versa. The iPhone paved the way for the modern smartphone by popularizing touch-centric interaction on mobile devices while the industry remained fixated on tiny keyboards. In more recent years, Apple has generally been more forward-thinking when it comes to consumer privacy. But Android device makers pioneered many aspects of today’s mobile user interface, offering staple features like widgets and quick-settings pulldown menus long before Apple did. Companies like Samsung also launched smartphones with larger screens years ahead of the iPhone 6 Plus launch in 2014. Now Samsung, Motorola and Microsoft are experimenting with foldable designs while Apple has yet to mention the possibility of a bendable iPhone.Check out the video below to learn more about Samsung’s One UI 4 update.
The pandemic changed our relationship with our phones and Samsung’s upgrading accordingly – CNET
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 (left) and Galaxy S21 Ultra. Sarah Tew/CNET The COVID-19 pandemic required us to to work, attend school and socialize from home — meaning our tech reached a new level of importance in our lives. Although the lockdowns are over, the time we spent at home in 2020 gave Samsung plenty of ideas…
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 (left) and Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The COVID-19 pandemic required us to to work, attend school and socialize from home — meaning our tech reached a new level of importance in our lives. Although the lockdowns are over, the time we spent at home in 2020 gave Samsung plenty of ideas for how the smartphone experience could be improved.Those takeaways surface in One UI 4, Samsung’s next major software update, which rolled out earlier this month starting with the Galaxy S21 series.
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“We looked at preexisting features and understood what was receiving more usage because of the pandemic and we reinforced that,” Hyesoon Sally Jeong, Samsung’s vice president and head of framework research and development, told CNET via a translator. The update largely focuses on improving areas like privacy, ease of use, personalization and communication, elements that Samsung noticed had become particularly important as many people began spending more time on their phones during the shutdown period. It’s another example of the broader shift that’s occurred across the tech industry as companies began tailoring their products to facilitate remote work and socialization.Read more: Apple iPhone 14 Max, Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and other exciting phones to look out for
One such feature in Samsung’s update is the ability to record audio and video during conference calls, an addition that was inspired by remote learning. “We realized that our users might want to record the audio or video while they have remote interactions with their teachers or students,” Jeong said. “So teachers might want to record the audio or video conference to monitor the lessons or sessions they had taught to students.” But perhaps the biggest change that influenced Samsung’s strategy when designing One UI 4 was the increased amount of time we’ve spent on our smartphones. A recent study published in the JAMA Pediatrics Journal found that screen time doubled among teenagers during the pandemic, not including virtual learning. As such, Samsung is trying to make its smartphones easier to look at for long periods of time with cosmetic updates coming in One UI 4. “In terms of visual design, we made a lot of design-related decisions based on the key principle of comfort,” Hyun Kim, head of Samsung’s core user experience group, also said to CNET via a translator. “Because screen time increased, comfort for your eyes [and] reducing eye fatigue has become more important than ever before.”The company made aesthetic changes to its software such as reducing the number of colors in the user interface and adjusting the size and layout of fonts. It also worked with Google to enable screen dimming that’s darker than what was 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 the way we relied on our phones for communicating and socializing in 2020. Read more: Google is still no Samsung, but the Pixel 6 might change everythingSamsung’s software update is just one example of the pandemic’s lasting impact on the way tech companies design and develop their products. That influence can be seen in Apple’s iOS 15 software, too. One of the update’s headlining features is SharePlay, which lets you easily watch movies and TV or listen to music with others over FaceTime. Such functionality would have been particularly handy during the shutdown period when many people were seeking ways to hold virtual movie nights over Zoom. CES 2021 also showcased the best efforts of tech companies to make products that reflected lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic. In addition to Razer’s high-tech face mask and a temperature-taking doorbell, we also saw laptops with better cameras that were seemingly designed for remote work.
Aside from the additions mentioned above, One UI 4 also brings features like a new privacy dashboard, the ability to choose whether to share your precise location with apps, more uniform widgets with rounded corners and more color palettes for customizing your phone’s theme. The software is now available for the Galaxy S21 lineup and will be coming soon to older Galaxy S phones, Galaxy A phones and Samsung’s foldable devices and tablets.
Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21 FE: What we’re expecting from Samsung’s next Galaxy phones – CNET
The Galaxy S21. The rumored Galaxy S22 is expected to be its successor, while the Galaxy S21 FE would be a budget version of the S21. Sarah Tew/CNET It’s been almost a year since Samsung announced the Galaxy S21 lineup, which means it’s likely almost time to see what’s next. Samsung typically announces its main…
The Galaxy S21. The rumored Galaxy S22 is expected to be its successor, while the Galaxy S21 FE would be a budget version of the S21.
It’s been almost a year since Samsung announced the Galaxy S21 lineup, which means it’s likely almost time to see what’s next. Samsung typically announces its main Galaxy S devices in the early part of the year, and we’re also expecting to see another new Galaxy phone in early 2022: the Galaxy S21 FE.If you’re a Samsung fan looking to buy a new phone next year, there’s a good reason why you might find yourself deciding between two devices. The Galaxy S22 is expected to be the successor to the Galaxy S21, meaning it’ll be the least expensive model in Samsung’s new Galaxy S family. And the Galaxy S21 FE will likely be a more budget-friendly version of the Galaxy S21. So both the S22 and the S21 FE are expected to be on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to price.
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There’s likely to be a notable cost difference between them, though. The Galaxy S22 will probably be a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than the Galaxy S21 FE, and rumors suggest it’ll include a sharper camera and faster processor to justify that difference. Still, the Galaxy S21 FE might have an edge when it comes to screen size and battery life.Here’s a closer look at what we’re expecting to see based on the rumors. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (rumored) vs. Galaxy S22 (rumored)
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (rumored)
Samsung Galaxy S22 (rumored)
6.4 AMOLED 2,340 x 1,080; 120Hz refresh rate
6.06 AMOLED FHD+; 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 898 5G
32-megapixel, 12-megapixel, 8-megapixel
50-megapixel, 12-megapixel, 12-megapixel
Battery and charging
4,3720 mAh capacitiy; fast charging
3,700 mAh capacity; fast charging
128GB or 256GB
6GB or 8GB RAM
5G, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
5G, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
The Galaxy S22’s screen may be smaller The Galaxy S22 is shaping up to be Samsung’s option for those who prefer a compact phone, similar to the Galaxy S10e. The Galaxy S22 may come with a 6.06-inch screen, according to specifications published by prominent leaker Ice Universe. The Galaxy S21 FE, on the other hand, is expected to feature a 6.4-inch display, according to information posted on China’s TENAA certification website spotted by MyFixGuide. Both phones are expected to come with display refresh rates that can reach up to 120Hz. If the leaks turn out to be true, the Galaxy S22 will be smaller than both the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20, while the Galaxy S21 FE will fall between the sizes of the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus. But the Galaxy S22 could have a higher-resolution main camera The Galaxy S22 is expected to come with a 50-megapixel wide lens, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens. That’s according to Twitter leaker Tron, who has a mixed track record when it comes to reporting on unreleased Samsung products. (He correctly said the Galaxy Z Fold 3 would be slimmer than its predecessor, but he also said the Galaxy Z Flip 3 would cost $1,249 even though it starts at $999.99). The Dutch website Galaxy Club, which has been posting a lot of leaks that have yet to be confirmed about the Galaxy S22 series and Galaxy S21 FE, also says the Galaxy S22 will have a 50-megapixel main sensor and a 12-megapixel wide sensor. It also suggests the phone could come with a 10-megapixel front camera.If these rumors turn out to be true, the Galaxy S22 will have a much sharper main sensor than the Galaxy S21 FE, but a slightly less sharp selfie camera. Samsung’s rumored budget phone will reportedly come with a triple-lens camera that includes 32-megapixel, 12-megapixel and 8-megapixel sensors, according to MyFixGuide, which also suggests the Galaxy S21 FE will have a 12-megapixel front camera.
The Galaxy S22 will likely run on a newer and faster processor Performance appears to be one area where the Galaxy S22 could shine over the Galaxy S21 FE. Samsung’s next major Galaxy S entry will likely run on the newest Qualcomm smartphone processor. Since the chipmaker is expected to unveil its next-generation smartphone processor during its Snapdragon Summit on Nov. 30, there’s a chance we’ll see this new chip arrive in the Galaxy S22 family. Samsung also makes its own line of Exynos processors, but those chips are usually available only in certain markets — not including the US. And that’s a shame, because the next version of Samsung’s Exynos chip sounds like it could potentially bring a big leap forward in graphics performance. Samsung and AMD are collaborating on a future Exynos chip, which will bring high-end gaming features like ray tracing to Samsung phones. But Samsung and AMD haven’t revealed further details about the chip, such as when it’ll launch or which products it’ll be in.The Galaxy S21 FE, by comparison, is expected to run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, according to MyFixGuide, the same processor that powers the Galaxy S21. That means we can probably expect performance that’s similar to the Galaxy S21, which’ll likely be considered a previous-generation product in the not too distant future.But the Galaxy S21 FE is expected to have a bigger batterySamsung is seemingly focusing on screen size and battery life with its next budget phone. The Galaxy S21 FE is rumored to have a 4,370 mAh battery capacity, according to the MyFixGuide leak. The Galaxy S22, on the other hand, is expected to come with only a 3,700 mAh battery, according to leaks from Ice Universe and Galaxy Club. That would make it smaller than the Galaxy S21’s 4,000 mAh battery. But keep in mind that the Galaxy S22 is also rumored to be smaller.In terms of memory and storage, we’re expecting to see 8GB of RAM and 256GB of space. That’s according to a YouTuber called Super Roader, who claims to be a former employee of Samsung’s wireless division. The amount of RAM we could see in the Galaxy S21 FE is less clear. The previously referenced MyFixGuide report suggests it’ll include 8GB of RAM, while a separate report from the same website, based on details that appeared on the Google Play Console, indicate 6GB of RAM. It’s possible the phone will come in two variants, since both MyFixGuide reports say the phone will come in 128GB or 256GB storage options.
The Galaxy S22 will likely be more expensive than the Galaxy S21 FEWe don’t know how much these phones will cost, and we haven’t seen any reports or rumors that provide an indication of price. But based on last year’s pricing pattern, the Galaxy S22 would be about $800 if Samsung takes the same approach as it did with the Galaxy S21 lineup. The Galaxy S20 FE, on the other hand, was priced at $700 at launch, while the standard Galaxy S20 began at $1,000. So the Galaxy S21 FE should be around $300 less expensive than the standard Galaxy S21, which starts at $800. Of course, that’s assuming Samsung retains the same pricing structure as it did with the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 FE.Should you buy the Galaxy S22 or the Galaxy S21 FE?Before a product is actually announced, it’s impossible to know whether you should buy it. Based on the rumors, though, it sounds like the Galaxy S21 FE is ideal for those who prioritize screen size and battery life and staying well below the $1,000 threshold. The Galaxy S22 will likely be better suited for those who want a more premium device with a sharper camera, faster performance and a more pocket-friendly design.
Smart home holiday vacation checklist: Prep your house to be home alone – CNET
The appeal of the smart home is, in part, the management and monitoring that can happen while you’re out running errands or at work. Your smart home can perform just as well if you’re gone for days or even weeks, with the right setup.If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, we have the tips…
The appeal of the smart home is, in part, the management and monitoring that can happen while you’re out running errands or at work. Your smart home can perform just as well if you’re gone for days or even weeks, with the right setup.If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, we have the tips you need to leave your smart home home alone with confidence. Read more: The best travel gifts | Best DIY home security systems to buy in 2021The new Amazon Smart Thermostat is currently our top pick for smart home climate control.
Thermostats If you have a smart thermostat, most types will detect that you’re away and offer a way to change the thermostat remotely. After all, that’s probably why you bought the thing in the first place. It’s a nice perk when you’re out for a few hours or a workday. For longer periods of time or for thermostats that include a vacation mode, it’s a good idea to check the threshold settings before an extended absence. These temperatures are the minimum and maximum your system will allow before it kicks in. To save energy, set them to a bit colder and warmer than you would if you were home.
4 ways to deter break-ins with your smart home
Sure, you can adjust the temperature remotely, but the whole idea here is to set it and go. So before you leave, set the temperature ranges on your thermostat so you can save money while keeping your home safe. Read more: Amazon Smart Thermostat review: A steal at $60High and low temperature thresholds save the most energy when they are set closer to the outside temperature than you would probably prefer when at home. However, they should still be safe enough for your home. If you have shades or window coverings, it’s best to lower them in your absence.
Lights and shadesMy parents always left the TV on when we were away so people would think we were home. I thought it was a weird game of pretend as a kid, but now as a homeowner it makes sense. Lighting isn’t a fail-safe protection against intruders, but having your lights or TV set to mimic human activity is a good start. Smart switches and schedules can do just that. Read more: Our review of the Lutron Serena Remote Controlled ShadesA good rule of thumb is that outdoor lights should be on at night and off during the day, while indoor lights should go on and off in different rooms. If you have smart switches, consider creating a schedule based on time of day that replicates what you’d typically do while home. You can also set smart light bulbs to power on and off intermittently. If you have automated window shades, consider setting them to stay down while you’re away. Keeping lights on might deter crime, but leaving your shades open could turn your living room into a window display for a burglar. The Ring Alarm Pro is our top pick for DIY smart home security.
Cameras, doorbells and security systems You have plenty of choices when it comes to both DIY smart home security systems and professionally monitored ones. While they do most of the work for you once they’re out of the box, it’s important to give them a quick status check before you leave. Security settings will differ depending on what products you have.Regardless of brand, it’s a good idea to make sure all the integrated motion sensors, cameras, locks and doorbells have fresh or fully charged batteries and notifications correctly enabled to reach the right emergency contacts. Read more: Our review of the Ring Video Doorbell 4When it comes to cameras and smart doorbells, be sure the lens is free of dirt, cobwebs or decor that might obstruct the view. If you’ve turned down motion sensitivity or set your camera to ignore motion in some areas around your home, now is a good time to put those features back to maximum vigilance. Finally, ensure all notification settings are set to notify the appropriate people at the appropriate times.Be sure detectors and sensors are powered up and ready to notify you in case of an incident.
Environment detectors Leak, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors offer peace of mind every day, and even more so when you’re out of town. Making sure all of these have fresh batteries, a solid Wi-Fi connection, updated apps or firmware and correct notification settings is worth a few minutes of your time before you hit the road. Read more: Smoke detector placement guide: Where and how to install sensorsIf your detectors aren’t connected to a live monitoring service, it’s even more important to get a notification sent to the right mobile device. That way, you can ask a friend or neighbor to check out any suspicious alerts. The iRobot Roomba S9 is our favorite robot helper.
Robot vacuums and other small appliances There are several robot vacuum cleaners out there with some version of a scheduling option. If that’s a feature you use often, turn it off while you’re away. If no one’s home to make messes, the vacuum doesn’t need to run. Plus, if you’ve enhanced the sensitivity of the motion detector portion of your security system, a robot vacuum could trigger false alarms.Read more: Our review of the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus vs. Neato Botvac D7 ConnectedYou’ll save battery life and wear and tear on your vacuum by making sure it isn’t running when it doesn’t need to. The same goes for other small appliances that might run on a smart schedule or with smart switches. Run through your list of managed devices to be sure everything is on or off accordingly.
The human element Yes, smart homes are cool. They can do a lot for you on a daily basis, and they keep you connected to home when you’re hundreds of miles away. Still, smart homes aren’t perfect, and it’s a good idea to have one or two very trusted (and tech-savvy) humans keeping an eye on things. Whether it’s sharing a camera feed, security code or plain ol’ house key, knowing someone could physically check on your home if anything looked suspicious will help you travel happier.
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