None Walkthrough OS 1.5: How well does this mimic the Pixel experience? [Video]
Nothing hit the ground while the phone was on (1). The company’s first smartphone comes with an architecture close to AOSP, but it took longer than expected to release Nothing OS 1.5 on Android 13. Just what’s new and does that improve the experience? We practically worked to find out.
With the news that future smartphones may not be coming to the US, you might want to know what Nothing OS 1.5 on Android 13 has to offer on Google Pixel phones. There aren’t a lot of Android devices out there that offer clean, lightweight versions of the software without some major flaws.
The London-based startup isn’t taking the biggest and best at this point, but there’s nothing OS 1.5 more desirable than heavy-duty third-party skins from the likes of Oppo and Xiaomi. Here’s everything you need to know:
Video – Nothing OS 1.5 full walkthrough
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Android 13 features
Since Nothing OS 1.5 is, after all, based on Android 13, it encapsulates a number of features and functions that have been popular on Pixel phones since the official launch in August. Many of these functions are intended to improve usability and privacy on the device.
- Active apps: Background apps’ operations can be managed and tracked from the quick settings panel. This allows you to stop rogue apps from running so that performance does not drop.
- New setting buttons in the QS panel: None OS 1.5 adds improved settings and accessibility to the Quick Settings panel. The new icons are found at the bottom right of the fully expanded notification panel. The Edit icon for the QS keys remains below the Quick Access controls.
- Expanded dynamic color options.
- Themed Icons: As part of the default Nothing Launcher, there’s a new option to toggle “Themed Icons” that run with dynamic colors. When enabled, supported icons will adopt a two-tone icon design with a circular icon defined by the default system color rules.
- Screenshot in the Recents menu: The nifty quick screenshot tool is now in the Recents app screen. This allows you to take a screenshot of a full-screen app without pressing hotkeys. Unfortunately, the Quick Text Copy tool is missing with the Nothing OS 1.5 Open Beta update.
- Per-app language settings: Besides the default system language, Android 13 adds the ability for you to set the app language on an app-by-app basis. This makes it easy for Nothing Phone (1) multilingual users to find the perfect setup for their device.
- Floating menus for Internet/Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Just like on Pixel devices, expanded QS tiles for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections now appear in central floating notification panels instead of in vertical sections.
- Grouped notifications: If you receive more than three notifications from at least three separate apps, Android 13 will group them with shorter icons that indicate waiting for more app-specific notifications. This is visible when the lock screen is displayed.
- QS Square QR Code Scanning: No OS 1.5 also adds a Google Lens-powered QR Code Scanner to your choice of QS Squares. This simply launches Lens and allows you to scan QR codes without launching the dedicated app and changing settings.
- New Media Player Controls: Larger and improved with additional controls, the Android 13 media player includes improved functionality with playback refinement, app-specific control, and customization based on album art. This is visible on the lock screen and in the notification center.
- Clipboard previews of copied text: When copying text from web pages or other apps, this appears in a pop-up at the bottom left with the ability to edit the text, quickly share to other apps or share to nearby devices in a similar way to the screenshot pop-up tool.
- Improved photo picker: Android 13’s photo picker is also available in Nothing OS 1.5. This privacy enhanced popup user interface allows you to grant apps access to only the photos/albums of your choice rather than your entire media/photo library.
Completely new functionality
Besides many of the “core” Android 13 additions, none implemented a number of existing features that are technically completely new to the device. Some of them were even seen for the first time outside of Pixel phones.
- Game Dashboard: Google’s Game Toolbox is now part of Nothing OS 1.5 with a built-in game mode including custom Game Dashboard functionality. This allows you to track in-game screen refresh rates, take in-game screenshots, quickly enable or disable Do Not Disturb Mode, as well as go live to YouTube via a connected account. The game control panel may not work with every game.
- Personal Safety: The Nothing Phone (1) is the first device outside the Pixel ecosystem to come with the Personal Safety app pre-installed. It is disappointing that vehicle collision detection is not available. However, you can access other features such as crisis alerts, adding medical information, and adding emergency contacts.
- Redesigned Volume Control Panel: Sidebar volume controls now include quick access to notifications, media, and alarm volume controls via the three-dot override menu.
- Live Captions: AI-generated captions are now available for all video content with the addition of Live Captions within Nothing OS 1.5. A quick toggle to enable this feature is also now available under the volume controls in the sidebar.
- New Weather: Nothing has built a custom weather-tracking app from the ground up using the company’s dot matrix font and key design elements. This is powered by AccuWeather.
- Screenshot Shutter: Sound & Vibration has gained a new option that allows the user to completely disable the screenshot shutter sound when using the default ringer mode.
User interface and cosmetic changes
Mandatory UI and cosmetic changes are also present. Most of these tweaks have been made to improve the aesthetic and visual flair of Nothing OS 1.5 on Phone (1) but do not affect general functionality.
- Separate Wi-Fi and Hotspot Unified Internet Switch: None OS 1.5 separates the large QS Internet tile with Hotspot functionality now living behind a dedicated tile. With this change, the ability to quickly enable/disable Wi-Fi connection is now lost. Much like Pixel devices, the floating panel will appear where you can enable/disable Wi-Fi connections and see any nearby networks.
- Smaller lock screen icons: Home and Google Wallet icons are now smaller on the lock screen in a similar way to the Pixel series. The homepage code still doesn’t stick to the updated code though.
- Lockscreen clock widget mimics At a Glance on Pixel: When notifications are visible on the lock screen, the Nothing OS persistent clock/date widget now mimics the At a Glance widget found on Pixel devices. The digital time sits above the date and current weather/temperature conditions. In Android 12 and Nothing OS 1.1.7, weather conditions are located above the digital time.
- Rounded M3 buttons: More areas of Nothing OS now include rounded M3 buttons or sharper button borders. A prime example is the Clear All button found in the recent apps menu.
- Modified on-screen prompts: On-screen pop-ups to allow access to notifications or location information now include round buttons and adhere to dynamic color settings.
- 50% Increase in App Load Times: Nothing to claim that the company’s Android 13 release delivers up to 50% faster app load times. In practice, this appears to be true but it is very dependent on the application in question. However, the system should be much faster when accessing the apps on the device with this performance boost.
- Self-healing: Nothing OS will automatically clear caches for unused apps and expired system dumps in an effort to improve long-term performance levels. It’s not clear how much difference this makes at this point.
- Improved sleep mode: A function quietly added in Nothing OS 1.5 is improved sleep mode. This works by temporarily limiting mobile data and some features on the device when you’re in standby mode to help increase longevity. This can affect how quickly you receive notifications.
- Google Pay not working: Wireless payment cannot be made using Nothing OS 1.5 beta.
- Netflix may not work normally: Due to the nature of this beta update, some apps, such as Netflix, may experience problems or not work properly.
- Picture-in-picture may not work normally.
When will Nothing Phone (1) get Android 13?
Nothing OS 1.5 Open Beta brings some significant performance-related improvements to what is still a mid-range smartphone with modest internal hardware.
At this early stage, we do not recommend installing Android 13 beta on your device due to the lack of NFC payment capabilities. There are other risks such as the possibility of your device being hacked if you do not follow the correct process. The folks over at XDA have a great guide detailing how to get started. There are also several leaked versions of Nothing OS 1.5 that can be downloaded via the links below:
We expect the stable release at some point in Q1 2023, which could be very soon since this release is fairly bug-free for the most part.
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