This story was originally published and last updated .
OxygenOS won praise for being most true to stock Android, but has since developed more of its own personality. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, although it’s very similar to Samsung̵
We have put together a list of our favorite features that are hidden in the various hooks and hooks of OxygenOS.
Swipe up to search apps
With hundreds of apps installed on your phone, using the search box is the fastest way to open the one you want, but it’s still a multi-step process. OnePlus takes things a step further by including a quick gesture that takes you straight to the search box for the app drawer. Tidy!
While swiping up to open the app drawer, hold in the middle for a split second, and that’s it. The keyboard automatically appears waiting for you to start typing in the search field at the top. It is enabled by default and also works on older OnePlus phones. I can not stress enough how useful and time-saving this feature is.
Screen of movements
Movements seem to be taking over our smartphones right now, but OnePlus has had something for them long before Google did. In addition to its own version of full-screen navigation gestures, OxygenOS has its much-loved screen gestures. The basic idea is to draw single-letter letters on the phone screen when it is off to take a quick action, such as turning on the flashlight or jumping directly to the video recording.
You can even program it to open the app you want, but if you do, you have to unlock the phone before the app screen appears. In addition to these, you can also assign each of the letters to open the rear or front camera immediately. Outside of these alphabetical movements, you get the usual double-tap to wake up along with some unique music controls. Drawing the pause (||), forward (>), and backward (<) icons on the lock screen allows you to play / pause, skip to the next track, and return to the previous one in that order. It's a great way to control music playback, and it works just as well on streaming apps as Spotify as it does local players.
Go to Buttons and movements part of Settings app, and then click Fast movements. This is where you will find the full list of these convenient and intuitive lock screen movements.
Having two simultaneous instances of a single app is not something you can activate on any phone, or at least the process of getting there is not particularly easy. Technically, you can use the same app on different device profiles, but there is often too much hassle for just one or two apps. OnePlus’ OxygenOS is among a handful of mobile skins that naturally support the feature, and OnePlus calls the version parallel apps. People who use two SIM cards can use it to have WhatsApp accounts with both phone numbers or run two instances of an app like Uber.
Among the apps I have installed on my phone, several social media and communication apps are supported, including Twitter, Telegram, Skype, WhatsApp and others. Autumn services like Uber and India’s Ola are also on the list, along with a local mobile wallet Paytm. The usefulness of parallel apps may vary depending on what all the apps you have on your phone, but it seems that the most popular ones are supported out of the box.
To access the custom list of supported apps, press Tool on the way in Settings. Once there, click Parallel apps. Now turn on the app you want to duplicate, but be careful when turning off any of them again: it will wipe the data from the parallel instance for good.
Live Caption has been incredibly useful for those with hearing impairments or just about anyone sometimes when it is not possible to turn up the volume. Pixel phones were groundbreaking for the feature, but Google has since opened it up for other OEMs. OnePlus is one of the few that has implemented it so far.
In the phone’s volume controls, you will find an extra button to turn on Live Caption when you need it. A live – and accurate – transcript of what is being played on your screen is displayed in the center. It works across the device and even when the phone is muted. It is one of the practical features that will make you wonder how you have ever lived without it.
In landscape mode.
We have all developed muscle memory for the one app we are instinctively leading for the moment we unlock the phone. You can cut down that two-step process to a single tap using Quick Launch. This feature allows you to select a small list of apps (or even app shortcuts) that you frequently use, and displays them on the lock screen as you keep tapping the fingerprint reader. You can scroll through the list and select an app, which then opens immediately.
Left and center: Quick start settings, Right: Quick launch in action
This may sound very close to the screen of movements we discussed earlier, but Quick Launch is different in some basic ways. First, the latter becomes much more intricate with all the device apps and their shortcuts, so you can jump straight to a feature in the app such as adding a calendar entry or opening a new incognito tab in Chrome. Furthermore, Quick Launch actually feels faster than the motion screen, which requires two taps for the same job (since the phone needs to be unlocked to launch the app).
As you may have guessed, the feature only works on OnePlus phones with an on-screen fingerprint reader, so those using older devices are out of luck. To access the option, go to Tool in Settings and click Quick start-up. There you can activate it and choose between a actually long list of apps and shortcuts on your phone.
Quick response in the landscape
Messaging apps in particular have a hard time adapting to landscape mode, and the keyboard often takes up most of the vertical space. They are basically useless (and a little frustrating) that way. However, OxygenOS has a tool that you can use to get a better chat experience when someone interrupts your YouTube video.
When you press reply on a notification banner while in landscape mode, your OnePlus phone will open the chat thread in a mini overlay on the left. A more manageable floating keyboard appears on the right, and it’s even better if you turn it on. This feature works as expected and is something I would also like to see on other phones.
OnePlus users can enable it from Tool part of Settings app.
Dark mode planning
Dark mode on older OnePlus phones followed a cumbersome process, requiring you to manually dig deep into the Settings app to make it work. Even worse, this intricate process will even ruin your custom theme.
Fortunately, the latest version of OxygenOS has added a much-needed and far more convenient scheduling feature. You can now either set dark mode to turn on automatically after sunset or turn on your own custom schedule. If you still want some manual control, you can easily add a switch to the quick settings menu.
This new scheduling option is available under the phone’s display settings.
Many recent phones adopt a dedicated assistant key – an idea first distributed by Samsung for its Bixby voice assistant. But within a few days of using the button, you will find that it is more annoying than helpful with all the inadvertent presses. If you’re one of those oddballs who want a physical key to summon Google Assistant, you can do so on your OnePlus phone using a built-in OxygenOS feature (note: the Assistant starts by default with the power key on OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro).
Under Buttons and movements, you will find a switch that allows you to hold the power key for half a second to open the voice fine. If you turn this on, the power menu appears with a longer press of three seconds (again, except on OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro devices, which only allow you to have one or the other). Just above this option there is another switch that allows you to click the lock button twice to jump straight into the camera app. It is possible to use both of these functions at the same time.
OxygenOS is a packed software skin that does not impress with all its fun little features. Beyond this short list of cherry-picked tools, OxygenOS has a lot more to do. If you think we have missed something that you strongly believe should have been on the list, please let us know in the comments.
Even more goodies
Updated to include swipe up motion for app search, Live Caption, quick response in landscape mode and dark mode scheduling.
Ryne Hager and Scott Scrivens contributed to this post.