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Samsung’s Galaxy S21 (left) and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The COVID-19 pandemic required us to to work, attend college and socialize from dwelling — which means our tech reached a brand new degree of significance in our lives. Although the lockdowns are over, the time we spent at dwelling in 2020 gave Samsung loads of concepts for the way the smartphone expertise could possibly be improved.

Those takeaways floor in One UI 4, Samsung’s subsequent main software program replace, which rolled out earlier this month beginning with the Galaxy S21 sequence.

“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 chairman and head of framework analysis and improvement, advised CNET by way of a translator.

The replace largely focuses on enhancing areas like privateness, ease of use, personalization and communication, components that Samsung observed had turn out to be notably necessary as many individuals started spending extra time on their telephones through the shutdown interval. It’s one other instance of the broader shift that is occurred throughout the tech business as corporations started tailoring their merchandise to facilitate distant work and socialization.

Read extra: Apple iPhone 14 Max, Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and different thrilling telephones to look out for

One such characteristic in Samsung’s replace is the power to report audio and video throughout convention calls, an addition that was impressed by distant studying. “We realized that our users might want to record the audio or video while they have remote interactions with their teachers or students,” Jeong mentioned. “So teachers might want to record the audio or video conference to monitor the lessons or sessions they had taught to students.”

But maybe the most important change that influenced Samsung’s technique when designing One UI 4 was the elevated period of time we have spent on our smartphones. A current research revealed within the JAMA Pediatrics Journal discovered that display screen time doubled amongst youngsters through the pandemic, not together with digital studying.

As such, Samsung is attempting to make its smartphones simpler to take a look at for lengthy durations of time with beauty 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 consumer expertise group, additionally mentioned to CNET by way of a translator. “Because screen time increased, comfort for your eyes [and] reducing eye fatigue has become more important than ever before.”

The firm made aesthetic adjustments to its software program equivalent to lowering the variety of colours within the consumer interface and adjusting the scale and format of fonts. It additionally labored with Google to allow display screen dimming that is darker than what was beforehand doable when utilizing the cellphone in low gentle environments. Samsung’s emoji pair characteristic — which helps you to ship two emojis directly — was additionally sparked by the way in which we relied on our telephones for speaking and socializing in 2020.

Read extra: Google remains to be no Samsung, however the Pixel 6 would possibly change every little thing

Samsung’s software program replace is only one instance of the pandemic’s lasting influence on the way in which tech corporations design and develop their merchandise. That affect might be seen in Apple’s iOS 15 software program, too. One of the replace’s headlining options is SharePlay, which helps you to simply watch films and TV or take heed to music with others over FaceTime. Such performance would have been notably useful through the shutdown interval when many individuals had been looking for methods to carry digital film nights over Zoom.

CES 2021 additionally showcased the perfect efforts of tech corporations to make merchandise that mirrored life-style adjustments brought on by the pandemic. In addition to Razer’s high-tech face masks and a temperature-taking doorbell, we additionally noticed laptops with higher cameras that had been seemingly designed for distant work.

Aside from the additions talked about above, One UI 4 additionally brings options like a brand new privateness dashboard, the power to decide on whether or not to share your exact location with apps, extra uniform widgets with rounded corners and extra coloration palettes for customizing your cellphone’s theme. The software program is now obtainable for the Galaxy S21 lineup and will probably be coming quickly to older Galaxy S telephones, Galaxy A telephones and Samsung’s foldable units and tablets.

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