Samsung has gotten a lot of flack for its various software interfaces throughout the years, but ever since the company announced its new project, One UI , there’s only one thing I’ve been able to think about. While One UI brings a lot of new features to the Galaxy S9, S9+, and Note 9, the most important one (at least, if you ask me) is the new Interaction Area and Viewing Area paradigm.
I’ve always hated the various one-handed UI modes implemented on Android — most of which shrink the contents of your screen down to a near-unusable size to make the top elements slightly easier to reach. It feels half-baked, especially compared to Apple’s Reachability function in iOS that just brings the top half of the screen down without resizing it, leaving an empty space up above.
Samsung’s One UI almost mirrors that functionality, but in a much more natural way. When you reach the top of a menu in One UI, the top menu items keep scrolling down towards the bottom of the screen, into what Samsung calls the Interaction Area — otherwise known as the parts of your phone reachable by a human thumb. Up top, where you’d typically have to shift your phone around in your hand to reach, is the Viewing Area that simply fills with plain text denoting the app you’re in. This wouldn’t be the first time Samsung has come up with an awesome feature before Google. This new schematic is littered all throughout One UI, from the settings to the clock app, and Samsung has even made the quick setting toggles in the notification shade lower. It’s an absolute godsend as far as one-handed usability is concerned, and even though I’m in favor of smaller phones like the Pixel 3 and Galaxy S9, this could be the change that lets me use big phones again — and enjoy the better battery life that comes with them.
It’s entirely unrealistic to expect this new interaction scheme to make its way to Android Q already, but I’d absolutely love to see Google adopt it eventually. It wouldn’t be the first time Samsung has come up with a breakthrough feature first; remember back before Multi Window was on every Android phone? I tend to prefer the "pure" or "stock" versions of Android found on phones like the Pixel 3 or OnePlus 6T, but of course, this goes beyond Google’s Android versus Samsung’s. If One UI’s menu overflow system makes its way to stock Android, that means it’ll show up in every phone, no matter who makes it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a major win for everybody, and makes large phones dramatically easier to use.
Have you tried One UI? Are you interested in the Interaction and Viewing Area scheme at all, or do you like Android just as it is?
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