The color palette feature in One UI has been around since version 4.0, i.e., Android 12. After its debut, Samsung upgraded the color palette tool a couple more times through One UI 5.0 and One UI 5.1. And now, Android 14 might prompt another big update for the Material You color palette in One UI 6.0.
But while Galaxy phone and tablet users who like to customize their UIs have embraced these color palette additions over the years, Galaxy smartwatch users are getting left behind. And maybe it's time for a change.
Samsung Galaxy smartwatches that run Wear OS 3.5 and One UI Watch 4.5 have highly customizable watch faces, but that's where it stops. There are no custom options for app icons in the app drawer, the One UI Watch settings menu, or the quick toggle panel. In fact, beyond the watch faces themselves, Galaxy smartwatches don't offer any options to customize the UI color scheme.
And considering how much care and attention the color palette feature is getting in One UI for phones and tablets, it's beginning to feel like Google and Samsung aren't paying enough attention to Wear OS and One UI Watch. But Samsung is working on the Galaxy Watch 6 series for release later this year, and I'm thinking that the next-gen hardware could benefit from a few next-gen UI customization features.
Galaxy smartwatches are in dire need of Material You colors
I've been using my Galaxy Watch 5 for a few good weeks now. And although I love the flexibility of the watch faces, One UI Watch personalization options don't come close to what you find in regular One UI for smartphones and tablets. The Watch UI utterly lacks that distinctive Material You flair from One UI. And I wish it wasn't so, even though it can be argued that smartwatch UIs shouldn't be as complex as smartphones — to maintain ease of use and performance optimization.
Nevertheless, the feeling that I'm using a sub-par UI that hasn't received the same level of care and attention becomes even more prominent after a while. And it's even more difficult to ignore when Samsung seemingly knows how good of an avenue for self-expression smartwatches can be. After all, we're talking about the company that created the Bespoke Studio for wearables.
So, what's the solution? Well, I personally would've loved the option to change the color tone of the settings menu and quick-toggle area on my Galaxy Watch 5. And even though I'm not a huge fan of matching app icon colors in One UI for smartphones and tablets, having that option would've at least been a start to expanding the customization options for smartwatches.
A new version of Wear OS is on its way, and I'm hoping that Google or Samsung will consider adding these Material You color palette upgrades to Wear OS 4 / One UI Watch 5. Android 14 may represent another big step forward for the color palette feature for phones and tablets because, as Google puts it, “color is personal.” In my opinion, that should be just as true for Wear OS and smartwatches. But even if Google disagrees, I'm hoping that Samsung can add these features through its custom One UI Watch software.