Samsung unquestionably makes some of the best Android hardware, but its software is… not on that same level. “One UI” is the company’s Android skin, and it’s the one thing holding back Galaxy devices.
Before I get started, I just want to say that this is a very subjective topic. My taste in software design may not be the same as yours. Even if you do like One UI, you might find a few things you agree with.
Bixby Gets in the Way
Bixby is a very strange product. On one hand, it seems like Samsung really wants it to be a thing, but in other ways, it acts like it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, Galaxy devices are one area in which Samsung pushes Bixby hard.
If you’re unfamiliar with Bixby—first of all, lucky you—it’s Samsung’s take on a virtual assistant like Google Assistant and Siri. However, it’s not nearly as good, especially compared to Google Assistant—which is already included on Galaxy devices.
That’s the most annoying thing about Bixby. It doesn’t need to exist. Samsung is already including a very good virtual assistant. There’s no need to have a second one that hijacks the power button. Thankfully, there’s at least one good thing about Bixby.
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I mentioned in the section above that Samsung includes their own virtual assistant despite already having Google Assistant on devices. This problem goes well beyond Bixby.
When you first set up a new Samsung phone, you will be greeted by a number of duplicate apps. Samsung has its own version of several of the Google apps that are also installed. Here are a few examples.
- Google Calendar / Samsung Calendar
- Google Chrome / Samsung Internet
- Google Photos / Samsung Gallery
- Google Find My Device / Samsung Find My Mobile
- Google Play Store / Galaxy Store
Some of the Google apps can be uninstalled—like Google Calendar—but the Samsung apps cannot. So if you prefer Google’s app, you’re basically stuck with two. In the case of the calendar apps, this can result in the very annoying behavior of duplicate notifications as well.
The other thing this does is hide Samsung’s apps that are actually good. Samsung Internet and Samsung Health are great apps, but they get lumped in with all these other unnecessary duplicates. It makes it hard to know which Samsung apps are worth your time.
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Too Many Features
The last thing that bothers me about Samsung software is all the features. Don’t get me wrong, there are some genuinely useful things that you can only do with Samsung Galaxy devices. In general, though, it’s just too much.
It’s nearly impossible for a techie like me—let alone a casual user—to know everything you can do. There are Edge Panels, media shortcuts, Kids Mode, GIF making, system-wide search, Samsung Free, Easy Mode, and so on. Oh, and if the included cornucopia of features isn’t enough, Samsung lets you add more. It’s a lot.
Some people appreciate this maximalist approach to smartphone features. You can use what you want, ignore what you don’t need. Personally, I think there’s too much going on. You have to wade through so much stuff to find anything.
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Show Some Restraint
The moral of the story here is restraint. Samsung is trying to do too much with One UI. I have no issue with Samsung having its own design style, but the number of features and duplicate apps are unnecessary.
Samsung really wants you to know that you are using a Samsung product, not a Google product. I don’t think fewer apps and features would do anything to change that. Samsung Galaxy hardware and One UI have very distinct looks.
A little restraint could go a long way in making One UI feel less bloated. Maybe Samsung could reserve the kitchen sink approach for the Galaxy Ultra series. Let’s chill out a bit, eh Sammy?
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