Using Oxygen OS 13: Top features, a seamless experience and promise of 4 years of software updates
By India Today Tech: At a recent roundtable in London, OnePlus made a big announcement regarding future software support for its upcoming range of smartphones: a promise to OnePlus users and OxygenOS 13. Starting in 2023, select OnePlus devices will receive four generations of major OxygenOS (Android) upgrades along with five years of security updates. In other words, when the OnePlus 11 launches on February 7 at the company’s Cloud 11 event, it will come with OxygenOS 13 and a promise that it will receive at least 4 years of major software updates and at least 5 years of security updates.
This is a big deal. Although OnePlus has also been quite quick in the past to offer quick software updates for its top smartphones. In fact, if we are talking about 2022 – right after Google dropped the Android 13 beta update for the Pixel series of smartphones in August, OnePlus was quick to follow up with its own announcement of the OxygenOS 13 software. From then on, only a week passed and the first open beta version was available to the general public.
Fast forward to about two months, and the company is already rolling out the first stable version of OxygenOS 13 on top of Android 13 for the OnePlus 10 Pro. This is the same software that will likely power the OnePlus 11. So let’s talk about it.
We’ve been using OxygenOS 13 on the OnePlus 10 Pro for quite some time now, and the experience has generally been smooth and fast. OxygenOS 13 is loaded to the brim with unique features and we love using some of them.
1. Aquamorphic design
With OxygenOS 13, OnePlus has introduced “Aquamorphic Design”, which in simple words means that the software experience is inspired by the elements of nature and water. Beyond buzzwords, we note that it offers a clean and consistent user experience, eye-pleasing shades for better visual comfort, along with large fonts and folders for better readability. Even the system animations, fingerprint animations or sounds you hear while interacting with the UI are pleasant and satisfying.
2. Always-on display
What’s the first thing you see on a smartphone when you hold it in your hands? Your phone’s screen, right? We’re trying OxygenOS 13 on the OnePlus 10 Pro, and we should love the always-on display. In addition to displaying the time and notification icons, the display on the OnePlus 10 Pro now allows users to set a variety of wallpapers. It even integrates Bitmoji and it allows users to find and display personal avatar. But that’s not all, as one can also check music playback along with tracking food delivery services via apps like Swiggy. The best part about all of this is that because the OnePlus 10 Pro has an LTPO display, meaning the phone’s display has a variable refresh rate, we also noticed that the always-on display doesn’t use much battery.
3. Enlarged folders
OxygenOS 13 takes a minimal but effective approach with its home screen design, and one of the coolest implementations in it is enlarged folders. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Well, listen to us. Usually when you create a folder, you add a bunch of apps to it and in the process, to access a particular app, there’s always this extra step of opening the folder and opening the app to load it.
But with enlarged folders, not only the folders are enlarged, which means you have better readability of the apps that are grouped together but well spaced. On top of this, there is a gallery-like implementation of the process. This means you don’t need to open the folder to load an app, in fact you simply tap on the app in the folder and the app loads. No extra steps!
4. Material You customization
We’ve seen the Material You customization on Pixel smartphones, and while it looks great and minimalistic, OnePlus offers you the same goodness, with a bunch of extra options. For example, the ability to create your own wallpapers. Or to set a personal theme, which you download depending on your choice and taste from the OnePlus theme store. Or the ability to customize the icons, the shape of the icons, match their colors and size and more. Or also change the colors of the user interface. Because the same old gets boring after a while, right? Well, OxygenOS 13 is the way to go when things get boring.
5. Floating windows
Floating Windows is a basic Android feature that was introduced years ago. However, we still don’t see this feature on many smartphones, and even if we do, the implementation isn’t that great. With OxygenOS 13, OnePlus gets it right. Alternatively, you can go to the multitasking window and tap the three dots next to an app to load it into a floating window. Or better yet, you can simply swipe from the bottom of an app to the top of the screen and drop the app when you see the floating window option.
The implementation of the floating window feature is great here. It works well and it works for most of the apps. And the best part is that you can use a supported app in a floating window on top of another app and you can also resize the floating window according to your preference.
6. Improved editing of screenshots
Of course, after taking a screenshot in OxygenOS 13, you get your usual cropping and selection options. But beyond cropping and highlighting, there are a number of other things you can do with a screenshot in OxygenOS 13. For example, there are many types of printers that you can use to highlight specific elements of your screenshot. In fact, you can even crop a precise shape if you wish, and it’s very easy to do. Additionally, OxygenOS 13 also adds this automatic pixelation feature for screenshots, which allows you to hide sensitive information like phone numbers, email addresses, etc. And of course, anything that isn’t automatically pixelated can also be done manually. Finally, there is also a wide range of tools available, such as filters, text, blur and even AI palettes, for advanced edits.
7. Privacy-focused features
OxygenOS 13 brings a number of privacy-focused features, such as Private Safe 2.0 to securely store your personal stuff like photos, documents, videos, etc. Then there’s System Cloner, which lets you create your own user profile on the same phone. Basically, you can have one profile for work and you can have another profile for leisure. Other features include Kids Space, an easy mode, and one of our favorites, the all-new Work Life Balance. With this setup, you can now set up a proper work mode, during working hours of course, and that way only the important notifications reach you at the right time. Work Life Balance is definitely a great tool for improving focus.
8. Smart sidebar
OxygenOS 13 comes with a very neat addition called Smart Sidebar. Of course, this feature allows you to have a sidebar on the side of your screen, and when you swipe in and open the sidebar, you can simply add any app installed on your phone to quickly launch it in a floating window. But that’s not all. You see, when you open the sidebar and you tap an app, it opens in a floating window, but when you drag the app outside the sidebar, the app automatically launches in split-screen mode. Also, the best part about Smart Sidebar is that it can be accessed from any screen, it can be set to auto-hide, and it also gives you smart recommendations that come in handy while watching videos.
OxygenOS 13 in 2023
As we said earlier, OxygenOS 13 combined with Android 13 is loaded to the brim with top features, and these “features” we briefly mentioned above only touch the tip of the iceberg. Because, frankly, a phone’s software experience is important, and the good part is that OxygenOS 13 brings a ton more refinement and additions.
Now as good as it is on the existing OnePlus phones, we can’t wait to try Oxygen OS 13 on the upcoming OnePlus 11, which is going to have powerful hardware that we think can unlock even more potential for the new software. And of course, there’s the update schedule that OnePlus has publicly promised. Four years of system updates is a big deal in the Android world, and while only time will tell if OnePlus can talk or not, the fact that the company has publicly made a promise should count for something.