It's been a week since OnePlus formally announced its Watch, surprisingly running home-grown software that gives it nigh-unbelievable battery life. Today a OnePlus product manager posted a Q&A about the upcoming Watch on the company's forum, bringing some much-needed insight into the choices made for the new wearable.
Much more than hardware, OnePlus has matured on the software front in its relatively short existence in the smartphone space. In all these years, OxygenOS has embraced some neat little features that, in their own imperceptible ways, make our lives much easier. We’ve always liked how OnePlus handles customizations and its myriad of accessibility features. Now that some of these OxygenOS elements have lately been creeping into stock Android, we’re left wanting more.
It took OnePlus long enough, but the company finally introduced an always-on display option (and an easily toggleable dark mode) with its latest Android 11-based firmware. However, the always-on display option is missing from Oxygen OS 11 on the T-Mobile carrier variant of the OnePlus 8T, as Redditor u/konnesotan was quick to point out. When we reached out to T-Mobile, we were told that the feature should be added in December.
Google may have set the pace in releasing a stable version of Android 11 for its phones earlier this month, but OnePlus isn't far behind. After debuting Open Beta 1 for OxygenOS 11 on September 8, the company is already pushing out Open Beta 2 to devices in the OnePlus 8 family. The new update fixes bugs and improves stability, but it also introduces a new feature that takes ambient display to the next level aesthetically.
Google made some changes to how Digital Wellbeing's "bedtime mode" works back in April, renaming it from Wind Down and adding a "while charging at bedtime" setting. But the company is not done tweaking things, as we've spotted a few new changes, like the option to turn off the always-on display in bedtime mode, and some tweaks to the "while charging at bedtime" notification.
Recent OnePlus phones have largely closed the gap with mainstream flagships by adding widely-requested features like wireless charging and an IP rating, but there’s still room for improvement. An always-on display setting is perhaps the most sought-after software feature, and it even topped OnePlus’s crowdsourced suggestions for OxygenOS, following which, the company decided to greenlight it. With the IDEAS campaign coming to an end, OnePlus has shared a timeline for AOD’s projected arrival.
Shrinking screen bezels have played a big role in the disappearance of the subtly breathing notification LED from our modern phones. An always-on display is a fine middle ground that lets you stay on top of your notifications right from the lock screen, but OnePlus hasn’t been able to perfect it for general availability. While you wait for the feature to see the light of day, the only way to get a notification indicator (well, kind of) on your OnePlus 8 right now is through the aodNotify app, but it brings along with some unwelcome implications.
Although the company has been teasing us with the idea for almost a year now, OnePlus has just announced that a much-requested always-on display feature is coming. The company says that the feature is "on our roadmap" and being fine-tuned following widespread requests via the new IDEAS platform, but there's still no date attached to the promise.
The lightly tweaked version of Android that OnePlus phones use, called OxygenOS, has some pretty big advantages going for it. There are even things about it that we'd like to see make their way to stock Android. But there's always room for improvement, and we've got a (slightly larger) wishlist of changes that we think could make it even better.
When Google first introduced the Google Assistant Ambient Mode, it was initially limited to smart displays. Then at IFA 2019, Google introduced a version for portable devices, such as tablets and phones, turning them into something like a Google Nest Hub when they're docked or being charged. After being initially available for only a handful of tablets and phones, the Assistant ambient mode is starting to roll out to more phones.