Samsung is expected to launch its Android 9.0 Pie beta program for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus any day now. This will likely take place until the year’s end, giving select users an opportunity to take the new Experience UI (version 10.0) for a test drive before its official rollout.
We’ve already spotted early builds of the new software, which Google released to the wild in August, and we may have just received our final glimpse at the software before the beta program begins.
An Android dev known as Suyash Bhatt supplied us with a handful of screenshots ripped from a leaked beta build, which you can find here (it’s for AT&T’s Galaxy S9 Plus ARI6 build). The new UI is similar to the previously leaked builds we’ve encountered — there have been are some subtle tweaks to the call screen, quick settings, and a few other places, but the direction is very much the same as had been established.
If you want to know what’s changed between this iteration and Samsung’s Experience 9.0 (based on Android Oreo), though, you’ve come to the right place.
One of the biggest changes in Samsung’ Android Pie builds compared to Oreo is in the way it uses bubbles. The settings menu, which caused its fair share of complaints last time it leaked, makes use of this shape to group and separate certain items.
It doesn’t look quite as jarring against a white background as it did on black (seen in the video here), and I think it makes a lot of sense to try and subtly break up these, sometimes easily confused, sections. I suspect there will still be plenty of haters, though. You’ll see this rounded style in the notifications shade and quick settings menu too.
At this point, it seems these aspects of the design are probably here to stay in Samsung’s take on Android Pie; take a look at the examples in the images below (in each pair, Android Oreo is on the left and the Pie build is on the right).
The Galaxy S9 Plus beta build also maintains the prominent headings we’ve come across previously. This can be observed in the quick settings menu (above right), where the date and time now takes center stage rather than quietly sitting at the upper-left corner.
Examples like this are strewn throughout the system, like in the messages area (below left), the caller ID (below center). Samsung has even given the “next alarm” text the heading treatment in the clock app (below right).
Icons and colors
Some of the app icons in the screenshots are presumably from icon packs and not the official Samsung designs, but there are icons elsewhere in the build that we ostensibly will see during the official beta.
Among these are new navigation buttons and revamped quick settings icons. The new nav keys don’t do much to change the experience, they’re still going to have the same basic functions as before, but the larger quick settings icons could aid usability.
The settings icons have also undergone a slight change — they’re in bold colors rather than outlines. This particular alteration looks like less of a usability decision and more for a fresh aesthetic, though.
The general color scheme, meanwhile, is largely the same as in recent Samsung Experience UIs, but there’s been a shift towards a darker shade of blue (seen up close in the quick settings and notification shade images).
Update 10/23/2018, 10:16 ET: It turns out the icons on the home screens are not part of an icon pack, as I previously speculated. Bhatt reached out again with the following image revealing the default icons found in the app drawer. They’re pretty cute, right?
The bolding of the settings icons mentioned above symbolizes the rest of Samsung’s changes. Samsung seems to be moving towards in-your-face headings, clearer options, and stronger colors, helping to make sure everything is understood and where one expects. It’s lacking subtlety, sure, but it’s also going to power millions of handsets; Samsung will want to make its interface as easy to understand as possible.
If this doesn’t sound like your kind of thing — if you’re looking for a less hand-holding type of experience — you may end up disappointed: we’re a few builds into Samsung’s Pie developments without significant deviations between them. Samsung may only change course now if something significant happens in the beta — like everybody says the new design is awful or broken.
Samsung could launch the beta in the U.S. before the end of the month. Until then, what do you think of how the software is shaping up? Let me know in the comments.