Believe it or not, Samsung has done something many of us didn’t think was possible: it has made great software. Tomorrow, it will unveil a pile of new phones — the thoroughly leaked Galaxy S10 lineup — and all them should be running the new "One UI” software, which is built on top of Android 9 Pie.
I’ve been testing One UI on a Galaxy S9 for the past week or so and thus far I really like it. In some ways, I like it better than what Google itself is shipping on the Pixel 3. If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t yet trust Samsung to deliver major software updates quickly, I would be shouting about One UI from the rooftops. As it is, I just want to point out that it’s time for us to stop instinctively turning our noses up at Samsung’s version of Android.
There are still some annoying parts of One UI, but they don’t ruin what is otherwise a full-featured, coherent, and (dare I say) thoughtful version of Android. This is not the conventional wisdom about Samsung software.
If you haven’t been paying close attention to the world of Android in the past few years you might have missed something: we don’t talk about "skins” much anymore. We used to think that there was such a thing as "pure” Android, which was then sullied by unnecessary and annoying layers of software slathered on top of it.
Nowadays, "pure” Android does much less than it used to. The basic Android Open Source Project (AOSP) version of it is not something you’d really want to use on its own anymore — too many important pieces have been pulled out of open source and are now distributed by either Google or the manufacturer instead.
NO PHONE SHIPS WITH "PURE” ANDROID ANYMORE
So to talk about "pure” Android and "skins” is sort of to miss the point. Most phones built on Android have custom software that goes way deeper than the skin, whether they’re made by Samsung, by Xiaomi or — yes — even by Google.