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[Interview] Galaxy S8 UX Designers Explain What it Took to Create One Continuous Experience
United by a single, continuous visual and sound experience, the Galaxy S8 was designed to blend seamlessly into one’s life, enabling a more natural interaction between the user and the device.
Members of the Samsung Mobile UX Innovation Team discuss with Samsung Newsroom the concept, the improvements and the inspiration of the Galaxy S8’s UX.
Q. What is the overall concept of the Galaxy S8 UX?
Joan Park: The overall concept of the Galaxy S8’s UX is ‘New Rhythm.’ The word ‘rhythm’ is derived from the PIE root ‘sreu,’ meaning ‘to flow.’ We chose this concept to introduce new services and functions through the smartphone’s UX and to enhance the flow of user interactions to better fit the way people use their phones today. Like the design of the device itself, the UX is seamless, unifying both visual and audio components to establish one continuous experience.
Q. How was this concept applied to the phone’s visual language?
Joan Park: The Infinity Wallpaper of the customizable Always On Display complements the color of the phone and makes use of the captivating Infinity Display to visually immerse the user. Its eye-catching aesthetic transitions smoothly to the Lock, Home and Apps screens for an added effect.
Seockhyun Yu: We applied similar dynamic effects to other apps to not only create a fun and immersive experience, but to ensure that users could intuitively use the device, guided by visual interaction. For example, users can easily zoom in and out on the Camera app by sliding the shutter button rather than using a pinch-zoom gesture. Also, when making or receiving a call, the color scheme is extracted from the contact’s picture and is displayed as the background in a gradient form.
Heekyung Deon: Even the phone’s icons and typography incorporate the Galaxy S8’s design language through a series of continuous curves and lines – an aesthetic inspired by a ‘Light & Line’ concept that is drastically different from previous Galaxy models. By cutting certain parts of the icons’ lines, we replicated a play of light and shadow that can be observed in everyday life. The result is a design that is systematic but also unique.
Q. What were the changes made to the phone’s audio language?
Josh Youn: We wanted to complete the user experience through the musical interpretation of the Galaxy S8’s visual experience and overall aesthetic. Therefore, the essence of the phone’s visual language was injected into the Galaxy S8’s brand sound “Over the Horizon.” The latest version of the song aims to manifest the yearnings and changes of our current age, appealing especially to the millennial generation.
The phone’s ringtones have also been updated to better harmonize with the icons, wallpaper and exterior design of the device. Furthermore, five new vibration patterns that differ in strength, length and frequency have been added.
Q. What is the biggest difference in the Galaxy S8’s UX compared to the previous model?
Seungwook Nam: Perhaps the most noticeable difference in design is the considerably larger display. To create this expanded screen space, visually obtrusive elements were minimized, and the home key was embedded underneath the screen. We needed to make sure, however, that this alteration did not create any inconveniences for the user.
So, to ensure they could use their phones in a familiar way, we made it so that the ‘invisible’ home button would function in the way a typical home key would. Furthermore, when watching videos or playing games, users simply need to press and hold the location where the home button would normally be to activate its functionality, rather than pulling up a navigational menu, like some other smartphones require users to do.
Q. What improvements have been made to the Galaxy S8’s edge screen?
July Baek: With the Galaxy S8, we’ve made two major changes to the edge UX to enhance usability and allow users to do more, right from the edge screen. First, we added a new Edge lighting feature, which illuminates the edges of the smartphone when the user receives a notification to create a fuller experience. We also provided a notification preview function to alert users of incoming calls or messages while minimizing screen distractions so they can stay focused on their movie or game.
Secondly, we expanded the edge panel through the addition of Clipboard edge, Device maintenance, Smart select and Reminder panels to facilitate the user experience. The Clipboard edge panel, for example, can be accessed when using an app, without having to navigate between windows to access saved images or text.
Q. How has the Always on Display been updated?
Hayoung Kim: We also added FaceWidgets to the Always On Display. By double tapping the clock, users can scroll through these widgets to quickly control music playback, view their schedule and check upcoming alarms. Furthermore, users can customize their Always On Display screen with memos and to-do lists via the Pin to Always On Display function via the Reminder app.
Q. How would you define the perfect UX?
Junwon Jung: A good UX is not only appealing to the eye, but is also easy and fun to navigate, and built with comprehensive features. Furthermore, a UX isn’t simply what appears on the screen – it’s a continuous stream of use. Therefore, all of its elements must work harmoniously.
That’s why “perfect” is not a completed state but rather a process. Samsung’s UX designers are continuously working to understand what users want so that we can achieve a UX that’s as close to perfect as possible.
Q. Where does the UX team get their inspiration?
Hyunkyoung Kim: We are continuously listening to fellow employees’ ideas and keeping an eye on various blogs to better understand the current needs in the market. We also look at user reviews of previous products to make improvements on future models.
For example, the Samsung Connect feature that allowed users to play TV audio from their smartphone could previously only be activated when the Galaxy S7 was connected to a pair of earphones. But, after reviewing user feedback, we designed the Galaxy S8 so that it can play TV audio via its built-in speaker.
Through continuous brainstorming with related divisions and departments, we are always working to create innovative functions that add to the user experience. It’s very satisfying to receive positive user feedback regarding the newly applied features born from our efforts.