Android 11 rolled out to Google Pixel devices earlier this month, but it’s going to be a while before the update rolls out to other brands. Samsung is, of course, hard at work behind the scenes on bringing Android 11 to some of its most recent device, and now, we’ve got a peek at what’s coming. Here’s a quick look at what OneUI 3.0’s first beta looks like.

In case you didn’t know, Samsung is hosting a closed beta to give developers a shot to test their apps on the company’s flavor of Android 11. Thanks to a trick in the Samsung Members app, we were able to get this running on a Galaxy S20+, but right off the bat, let’s clear things up. Don’t try this yourself. The beta is very unstable and we’ve already encountered several issues. Just wait for a public beta, it’ll be coming soon enough!

So, what’s new in OneUI 3.0? This first beta has a few changes, starting with some UI adjustments. In this update, Samsung has a clear focus on cleaning up its skin and making things feel more natural. One of the first places that’s apparent is in the lockscreen. You’ll notice that the clock is now larger and centered, more effectively drawing your attention to it. Colors on the icons are also now uniform, and you might notice that the fingerprint sensor icon has been changed.

Moving on to the homescreen, a lot of those changes continue. Samsung’s weather widget, for example, is now centered on the screen, which immediately makes the design fit a little bit better. Another nice touch is the background color of folders that now matches the light or dark themes.

Samsung is also adding some more translucent elements to its UI in Android 11. Notifications, for example, now let the background elements come through just a bit, and the background as a whole has a nice Gaussian blur. Behind the multitasking screen, too, this effect is applied. All of it looks best in dark mode, if you ask me.

Speaking of dark mode, it seems the quick settings toggle for that feature has been removed in OneUI 3.0.

Rounding out UI changes, Samsung has also tweaked its animations in OneUI 3.0. They’re a little faster, a little cleaner, and thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate, they feel very smooth. We’ve captured a couple of the new animations in recordings below, but GIFs just don’t do these justice.

In terms of feature additions, Android 11’s notification tweaks are definitely here on Samsung OneUI 3.0. That includes the “Conversations” section. Bubbles are around, but they’re buried in the settings menu. Luckily, they’re still turned on by default for supported apps. On the same note, though, there’s another headlining feature from Android 11 not showing up in OneUI 3.0’s first beta release — power menu controls. By default, Bixby still opens, and even diving into the settings, there’s still no way to turn on the power menu controls that are so useful on Pixels.

Android 11’s new media card, though, is present on this build. However, it’s also super buggy when multiple apps are playing. I’ve also noticed that the seek bar doesn’t update.

Samsung also made some tweaks to its own features. There’s a new high-level shortcut to Android Auto in Samsung’s settings menu, for one. Another, bigger addition is wireless DeX support. That feature was first available on the Galaxy Note 20 series. Notifications also now have a “brief” and “detailed” pop-up feature. “Detailed” is the typical Android behavior, while “brief” has a smaller design that also includes edge lighting and works when the display is off.

Another small tweak in Samsung’s Android 11 build is the adoption of the vertical volume slider. It now more closely matches stock Android’s current design while retaining an expandable menu for media, ringer, and other volume sliders.

Beyond these more major changes, Samsung has updated a handful of other UI elements. The battery screen, for example, no longer buries usage data in a second screen. You can now set a custom call screen background. You can now double-tap the homescreen to turn off the display. There are a bunch of other small changes like those, many of which the folks over at XDA have broken down in detail.

Surely, the final builds of Android 11 for Samsung devices will change a lot more, but this first beta gives us some good insight into what the company is working toward.

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Ben Schoon

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