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Google built Android 12, but Samsung will make it look and feel better

Android 12 Logo
Android 12 Logo (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

It's opinion time, and one that people might not agree with — I hate how Android 12 looks on my Pixel phone. The giant menu list items, the chonky controls, the animations, all of it. It's definitely the Google Pixel look and style, but everything seems very out of place to me. I think it all ruins the bright (yeah, I am not a dark mode kind of guy) and minimalistic feel to Android that Google gives us on its Pixel phones.

I know Android 12 isn't nearly finished and by the time it comes out of testing and beta phases it could change, but I doubt it will. And I'm not throwing shade at the Pixel experience team here. It's their product and they get to do whatever they like with it, but this time it just happens to be, well, goofy. At least I think it's goofy, YMMV.

If you don't feel what I'm saying here, that's cool. Different strokes and all that apply. If you have no idea what I'm talking about and have the Android 12 DP on a Pixel phone, open the settings menu and scroll to the top. Then keep scrolling and watch that ripple wave animation. Boing.

Android 12 Settings

Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

Adding in the weird app splash effect and the new minimize animation (though that one is kind of cool on its own) and the extra spacing and the ginormous controls, you have the Pixel's bland but efficient software with some extra effects tacked in place on top of it. And I definitely do not dig it.

Android has no default "look" because phone makers can do what they want with the UI.

But it's not all bad news because when it comes to the very best Android phones, manufacturers like Samsung are going to take the basics Google has added — like splash loading animations — and turn them into something that will fit in a little better. That's the beauty of Android as well as one of its faults: companies are free to change most of it when they use it.

We've all seen this. Grab one Android phone and then move to another from a different manufacturer and things are going to look and feel very different. Sometimes we love the "skins" manufacturers put on top of Android's base. Other times, we don't love it so much. But it's been there since the beginning (well, almost) and it's not going to change.

These changes are often more than skin deep, though, and that's where things can cause a problem. When a company like Samsung or Xiaomi takes the code that Google offers and then tries to change how everything looks, it affects more than just the colors and animations. Google doesn't use Android as written, either, though it does generally keep everything in its original place when it comes to settings and menus and shortcuts.

Companies like Samsung are really good when it comes to building a cohesive interface.

Some folks think this is a bad thing, and when it used to take Samsung a year or more to make these changes to the newest version of Android, it was hard to argue. Nowadays, though, companies that make our phones have their teams in place, and waiting for even simple updates is mostly a thing of the past. Unless you bought a Motorola phone, anyways.

There are times when it's a good thing, too. If you're not a fan of what you've seen from Android 12 in the UI department, this is one of those times. Samsung will include splash animations and fancy new ways to bounce around, but it will take time to blend this new eye candy into something that fits well with Samsung's One UI. Even companies like OnePlus who keep the software on their phones fairly close to basic Android will do a little more with what Google offers here.

Android 12 Leaked People Space Widget

Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

What makes Android phones different is also what makes Android great.

As I mentioned, this is what makes Android different and great. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, we have plenty of choices when it comes to the software on our smartphones. There is the minimalism of the Pixel (complete with bouncy bounces and uber wide volume controls) or the over-the-top look and feel we see from Xiaomi. Even Huawei, which doesn't make Google-based Android phones any longer, can take the same base code and Huawei-ify it to its heart's content.

I still love what I see in Android 12 and think it's going to bring some great changes like how we chat with friends and how we can better manage our privacy. I'll even get used to what the Pixel team has done with the user interface, eventually. But I have a feeling we're going to see Samsung do it better.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

84 Comments
  • Samsung will make Android 12 not just look and feel better, it will be better than Google's bland and boring implementation of Android.
  • You're an idiot. One UI is sluggish, bloated, and filled with ads. I won't touch a US model Samsung phone with a 10 foot pole.
  • I don't often agree with Beno but the idiot here is you! One UI is neither sluggish, nor more bloated then other phones. And ads? I have never seen one in the last 6 years I've been using Samsung! You're just a bone headed troll! Go, get your Pixel and play with your inferior piece and leave the rest to more knowledgeable folks.
  • I like the Samsung UI, but I have seen ads in the notifications
  • Try using a recent Samsung phone before posting, I use a Galaxy S20 FE and One UI isn't sluggish at all. I used to by an ignoramus like you until I actually used a Samsung phone.
  • "I used to be like you..." LoL We tried to tell you years ago Beno!
    As far as ads, I only get AC's ads..
  • Maybe one UI is different, but the last time I looked at a Samsung phone, the UI was bloated and sluggish, awful, I will never buy another Samsung phone, overpriced anyway.
    I prefer my Android to be as close to Android as it can be, My old Huawei p10 lite was pretty close, the Oppo i have just got is a bit further away from it than I would like, but it is still ok.
  • Huawei's UI is horrible, looks like an iOS knock off.
  • It is fine if you set it to drawer, more like normal Android then
  • @BongforHire ... You just actually made yourself look as dumb and as uninformed as humanly possible next to beno of all people... now that's quite an accomplishment!
  • Wasn't too long ago we were saying the opposite...how things change..
  • I'm still saying the opposite. Samsung ruins Android with their bloatware and ads. In the US you can't even unlock your bootloader to flash custom ROMs or root, so you're stuck with mediocre solutions like ADB commands. **** Samsung.
  • Nonsense... Ads don't exist on premium Samsung phones. Total lies.
  • They exist on mine and every other Samsung premium phone in North Ameica.
  • They(ads) don't exist on my premium and budget Samsung phones.
    I only see ads on this(AC) Amazon site.
  • Who roots their phone nowadays?
  • There's always some people who just have horrible taste in everything. People who think Samsung produces a "beautiful UI" are like those who think Applebee's is "fine dining".
  • Samsungs UI is the gold standard for Android, Google's implementation is barebones, lifeless and lacking in features and might as well be an iPhone. Until I got my S20 FE 5G, I was only interested in stock Android or close to it but not anymore, One UI is amazing with the tons of features and customisation on offer. Google's iPixel software is just drab, dull and boring. Samsung still the leader in Android and pushing Android forward, not Google who just steals Samsung's ideas.
  • You do realize that you can change that on a Pixel phone with different launchers and wall papers right? Or do you even know how Android works?
  • I know and I have a confession, I like the Pixel UI and am using Lawnchair 2 mainly for the Google feed and the minimalist look.
  • That's where it gets fun. It's very much a "beauty is in the eye" kind of argument. I, personally, have grown accustomed to a lot of what Samsung does however I do still enjoy a lot of the more minimalist approach Google takes with their Pixel lineup. Even MIUI manages to add a little bit of flare i find interesting.
    Applebee's though... applebee's is trash.
  • This perfectly sums it up. If you like One UI, you are a tasteless cuck. So much bloatware, so much advertising, sluggish overall experience.
  • Try using a recent Samsung phone, Samsung's UI isn't sluggish at all, try using a Samsung phone instead of being ignorant or stick to the boring, lifeless, featureless barebones iPixel software that's just a poor iPhone clone.
  • 5 posts on the same thing? Hard to take your opinion seriously.
  • I was responding to other people, read the entire thread rather than criticise my saying the same thing. I'm defending Samsung here against people who are still stuck in 2012.
  • No I was referring to the other dude.
  • Oh my bad.
  • I used to work for a major wireless company and the majority response of the general public to the Pixel's software was that it is boring. I mean I dont feel that way, but it would appear as if your opinion is the one being cucked here.
  • I do not like either, so where does that put me? :)
  • That would be neutral lol
  • Perhaps, but Samsung pollutes their devices with bloatware duplicating app for app everything included with Android. That gobbles up storage space and battery life over time. Samsung also delays releasing new Android versions so long Google's already released the next. Up to the user if Samsung's improvements are worth the price.
  • Most of Samsung's apps and services are better than Google's. And Samsung didn't delay Android 11, in fact Samsung was one of the fastest to update its devices to Android 11 and are as consistent as Google is with security patches and beats Google in a lot of cases recently, try using a recent Samsung device and the bloatware has been toned down so your bloatware claim has been shot down.
  • Most people would disagree Google's services are worse than Samsung's duplicate. Samsung doesn't have a web presence -, it's tired to their devices.
  • You're right and I've had to switch back to chrome because when I enlarge text on Samsung Internet, it merges all the text into an unreadable mess and also with Chrome being cross platform.
  • But can you get rid of Samsung's Apps?
  • Unfortunately you can't get rid of Samsung's apps, only disable some of them but that's fine as I use most of Samsung's apps more than Google's.
  • And this is the problem, but sadly not just with Samsung, but they do seem to stick a load of their apps on, including Brixby, why they have doe that I do not know.
    On my Oppo phone there seems to be very few apps from Oppo and I have uninstal;led what I wanted to get rid off.
    My main problem is Google messages, I am not a fan of it, the one that came with my old Huawei phone was much better, even delayed the sending of the message for a few seconds so i could cancel if it was not right. Googles own messages do not have that function.
    I don't use a lot of apps from Google.
  • If you have the latest Samsung phone you will get the update early. The wait increases if you don't replace the hardware with the then latest. That's not the case with google. Even a three year old phone gets updated the day OS is released.
  • That's not true, they update their older Samsung phones almost as quickly as Google and often beating Google in the rollout of updates.
  • I wouldn't say they pollute their phones at all. They offer choice, sometimes better and less invasive than Google. As long as those choices don't slow down my device, and I can set up my phone as I like, what do I care? The anti-Sammy talking points have lost most of their bite in 2021.
  • "As long as those choices don't slow down my device, and I can set up my phone as I like," But they do slow down your device and prevent you from setting up your phone how you like. I had a Note 9 for a brief period of time, the amount of hoops I had to jump through just to remap the Bixby button and hide Bixby Feed was absolutely ridiculous. You can remove a lot of stuff using ADB commands but it's liable to break other things relying on Samsung's baked-in integration. Worth nothing that once that Note 9 got updated to Android 10 it was practically unusable. Absolutely sluggish performance and battery life. I ended up selling it and going back to a Pixel XL from 2016 because it was such a terrible experience. Worth noting I had full diagnostics ran on the phone at a Samsung authorized service center and the hardware was fine. Samsung's software is just that bad.
  • It absolutely does not slow down my S21 Ultra. You're talking about software from 4 years ago.
  • And you are talking about a phone that costs over £800, if it doesn't run the UI properly then there is something wrong, but I bet it would work a lot faster without the stuff Samsung sticks on top. Samsung's hardware is pretty good, but they add far too much to the U.I.
    My phone cost £130 and runs well, very well to be honest, I am shocked how good it is for the price. Sure it may not have the looks or power of your s21 ultra, but it does what I need and there is no way on this earth that I would ever pay more than £200 for a phone, i think people have more money than sense, paying that much just for a phone. i think for some people it is a look what I have got thing and just to show off, I know someone who does that.
  • I paid $500 for my S21 Ultra. Not sure what you're talking about. And again, I like the choice. For me, choice is good. I don't like always being locked in to Google. Some of you who haven't owned a Samsung phone in 5 years, really sound ignorant.
  • How can anyone comment on a software that is NOT finalized? Is it ignorance or is it just a Sammy zombie? I have had SamDUNG phones. And I will admit they are very well made; however, their software sucks big time....MY OPINION. And I have never cared if others agree or not. However, mine is based on finalized software not something still in the process stage. So if you are a SamDUNG zombie...cool. But to say they will make something better of a non-finalized software is ludicrous.
  • Google has been making operating systems for a while now. We know how they operate. Shouting My Opinion just makes you look obnoxious btw.
  • Imagine talking to someone at a coffee shop and they make the above postulate (verbatim) verbally. I'm laughin' mate.
  • You've also described the problem with ChromeOS. It's now a highly capable operating system but because Google just doesn't know how to design UX that wins hearts and minds like Apple and Samsung do it receives little love because it looks basic. It's actually rather powerful but a little boring. This is a problem when it's ChromeOS not Android Google have been busy actually developing for tablets.
  • Samsung has always been pushing Android forward not Google who's just steal Samsung's innovations like multitasking, etc.
  • You mean multi-window. The thing that Google implemented and was working on adding to Android, then Samsung used the unfinished code to build their own APIs that needed apps built to use it, then changed to Google's version once it was finished.
  • Samsung pioneered it and has perfected multitasking, Samsung has more multitasking capabilities than Google's bland and boring implementation.
  • Google always makes Android ugly while Samsung makes Android fun.
  • Samsung makes Android bloated, sluggish, and filled with advertising.
  • So not true.
  • Not true at all, stop with the false narratives of ads and bloatware on Samsung phones, I use a Samsung phone so I know what I'm talking about.
  • Where in the actual ffuckk are these ads you speak of?!? I see exactly zero of them on my note 20 ultra... I think you're just here trying to outdo beno and everyone else on this site by attempting to reach the most obnoxious, borderline unachievable levels of stupidity and ignorance... and you're doing a darn good job with each and every comment you make...
  • It harkens back to early 2000s internet trolling, when trolls trolled for the lulz and didn't become the target of social witch hunts IRL. In general the internet had a spine back then, so these goofy bastards were either engaged with (for further lulz) or ignored. No one really cared tho, including the trolls.
  • I give Google credit for their clean UI which I've switched to, in the form of Lawnchair 2.
  • It is a phone, you make calls with, send messages, maybe take a photo or two, browse and that is it, oh yes some people play games on them. Android fun, oh good grief.;
  • Nothing wrong with playing games on phom, stop being so negative.
  • Never said there was anything with that, but i would not call Android fun, it is a OS just like IOS and Windows, it is needed for the device to work.
  • Style is subjective, but the point of an open OS is to allow vendors/developers to put their own spin on it. Google is doing exactly what they should do. Google has continually separated core functions from aesthetics due to previous issues with fragmentation of the OS. Allowing vendors to play with design while no longer needing to fragment the OS has completely changed Samsung's approach. Why do you think Sammy suddenly started offering more OS updates to more devices? It's because they spend less overhead trying to cram new updates into their "tizen* version of Android. Some of the perks with Samsung phones are nice, but I prefer the clean bloat free experience of my Pixel.
  • I mean, I'd argue that there are several Google apps I (can only speak for myself here) consider bloat...like Chrome for example.
  • Samsung has a habit of ruining everything Android related, One UI is terrible. What you really mean is "Samsung will assault it with bloatware and advertising". Unless the next generation of US Samsung phones can be bootloader unlocked then I am entirely uninterested in them.
  • Ah...now we get it.
  • Someone hasn't used a Samsung phone in a loooooooooong time...
  • I was once a Google fan (Nexus 4-6), then got the Note 5 and haven't looked back. I actually wish the Pixel was all that, BUT, I remember Google breaking something on my phone with every monthly update. I remember Google suddenly making "improvements" that forced me to go hunting for a different app that would do what I need. Those circumstances don't seem to have changed. My experience is that Samsung's offering is superior across the board. You can commit to various apps without worrying about being left in the lurch at a moment's notice. Updates and security are quite good. And continuity through to the next device is assured. If one could count on Google being consistent with its devices, I'd be willing to give it another go. BUT, I'll let others be the Guinea Pigs first.
  • So because Google likes to try different things and Samsung continues to make the same phone over and over that is a bad thing?
  • This is one of the most ignorant articles on this site. OneUI is crap, bloated, and too much deep integration with samsung crapware. You lost any respect you had.
  • Do you own an S21?
  • Your comment is ignorant and ridiculous, One UI is not bloated at all, this isn't the Touchwhiz days anymore, Samsung's cleaned up it's UI and is a superior experience to a iPixel which is just a crappie clone of an equally crappy phone in the iPhone, running the most boring, drab and uninteresting version of Android.
  • LMAO you need to chill the F out. Its a stupid phone, and his opinion. You are weird.
  • I'm sorry I lost the respect of someone who either doesn't understand or is purposefully being ingenious. Love it or hate it, whatever Samsung does to Android 12 will fit into its OS much better than what Google has done. It happens every year.
  • Go back to Reddit with your myopic, groupthink...I'm sure plenty of updoots await you there. Your incredibly predictable reactions and opinions to things that the herd told you to think will serve you well as you amass le epic doots.
  • The title of this article alone made me laugh out loud! While it is debatable that Google's version of vanilla Android may or may not be good...Samsung's versions is NOT better! I hate the way Samsung does their UI.
  • I have sn S21 and a Pixel 5 and thoroughly enjoy both, but my sim spends more time in the Pixel. They are both excellent phones and my guess is most of the people complaining about Samsung haven't had anything beyond the 9 series. I still have an S10e and its one of my top 5 favorite phones and it is as fast today as it was new.
  • After all these years, Jerry is still obsessing about Android sub menus to mess with things like nerdy settings... Meanwhile, the rest of us use apps and take pictures. But, Samsung does lead Android change. Often, Samsung adds features that in the future become standard stock on Android. Nothing compares to the best Samsung devices on Android... But I get it... Not everybody needs big phones or perfect screens. I use my phone as my primary online device... And I'm a big guy... So the biggest, most powerful phones suit me. Cheers... Lol... Nobody cares about submenu except you Jerry.
  • Nobody needs the settings menu? OK.
  • @NorthernOil Tell me you pull the covers over your head when you fart, without telling me you pull the covers over your head when you fart...
  • Pixel phones are like proof of concept, put tomorrow updates and in the process they would like to recover the party of the amount being spent on development work. You will see the difference hopefully on pixel 6 with their own chip
  • When I read about these manufacturers (in plural), and expressions like "companies like Samsung", I think we're kidding ourselves into believing that anyone but Samsung is relevant (at least in the US). LG is gone, HTC is gone, Blackberry is gone, Huawei cannot use google services, Motorola and Nokia may still be around but they've pretty much abandoned the top of the market. Google and Oneplus are the only ones still trying and they have only a relatively tiny slice. Competition is dying and that is going to be bad for customers.
  • I thought most US consumers didn't care about competition, they tend to stick with a particular brand, in particular overpriced and inferior Apple.
  • In the US this is undoubtedly true but the rest of the world is different. Xiaomi and BBK group are massive in other markets and Huawei still sells well in China.
  • Exactly, US consumers and the money grabbing greedy networks are to blame for the poor state of competition in the US smartphone market. Here in the UK, we have much a more competitive market amd the Chinese OEMs are making progress except for Huawei, and that's because here in the UK we don't try to stifle competition like the US does.