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Samsung brings Android 12 privacy to Galaxy S21 series

One UI 4 notifies smartphone users when apps access their camera, location or microphone. The software also lists the apps accessing people's data and keeps track of permissions.

Samsung has overhauled the user interface of its Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra smartphones to bring Android 12 privacy and security features to customers.

One UI 4, which Samsung announced this week, offers a privacy dashboard that lets people see how often apps request to use their data. It also alerts them when an app is using the smartphone's camera or microphone.

The dashboard provides controls for blocking apps from collecting data or accessing the smartphone's resources. It also lets people set whether an app can track their exact location or an approximation.

With One UI 4, people can view their permissions history over the last seven days. The feature expands on the 24-hour permissions viewing that comes with Android 12.

Samsung One UI 4 privacy dashboard showing how many apps are requesting data
Samsung's One UI 4 brings the Android 12 privacy dashboard to the Galaxy S21 smartphone series.

"The new features are providing additional layers of protection that didn't exist before," said Nabilla Popal, an analyst at IDC. "Although it won't particularly rocket enterprise sales, it is definitely a welcome addition addressing a key [security and privacy] concern." 

Android 12 is the most significant update to the mobile operating system in years. Google announced it in May at its annual I/O conference and brought it to its Pixel 6 smartphones in October.

Samsung plans to use One UI 4 to customize Android 12 for all its smartphones and tablets, not just the Galaxy S21 series. Later this year, it will roll out the software to the Galaxy A, Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series.

The most significant aesthetic features include rounded corners on application icons and color schemes that match a background photo used on the smartphone's home screen. Samsung based the color features on Android 12's Material You technology developed by Google. 

Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.

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