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OxygenOS for the OnePlus One Arrives

OnePlus One with OxygenOS 1.0.0OnePlus One users have been anticipating an Android 5.0 Lollipop ROM for some time. It has finally come, in the form of a new brand of ROM, OxygenOS, from the makers of the One. Updating to OxygenOS isn’t an OTA though, which means whoever wants to try it had better have some familiarity with flashing Android ROMs.

OxygenOS is OnePlus’ own flavour of Android 5.0 Lollipop. The One phone had come with CyanogenMod 11S preloaded, and 12S, which is Lollipop-based, was promised within 90 days of Lollipop’s source release. The timeline has slipped somewhat. But more importantly, because of a rift between OnePlus and CyanogenMod, OnePlus begun to develop their own ROM.

At the start, OxygenOS is pretty much stock Android with minimal changes. This should mean a quick development time. On the other hand, it’s a totally new development effort, so there surely would be some hiccups. Hiccups there were, but alas, it’s here, and it comes ahead of CyanogenMod 12’s official release. For users who just wanted Lollipop, and didn’t really care whether it was CyanogenMod or OxygenOS, I guess they’ll now be jumping onto the new ROM.

You can read more about OxygenOS from the official OnePlus OxygenOS webpage, and installation guide in the OnePlus forum thread. Briefly, to get OxygenOS into your One:

  1. Get TWRP recovery and OxygenOS. Copy the TWRP image and oxygenos_1.0.0.flashable.zip (from inside the downloaded oxygenos_1.0.0.zip) to the Downloads folder (or anywhere on /sdcard) in your phone.
  2. Get your computer setup to run adb and fastboot from the Android SDK.
  3. Unlock your bootloader if you haven’t done so. Go into fastboot mode by turning off your phone, then holding the power and volume up buttons together to boot into fastboot mode. Then run:
    $ fastboot oem unlock
    Unlocking will wipe your phone, so you’ll lose your settings, data, etc.
  4. Flash TWRP recovery:
    $ fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
  5. Boot into recovery. Turn off your phone, then holding the power and volume down buttons together to boot into recovery. Then do a factory wipe. If using TWRP, go into Advanced Wipe, then select everything except “Internal Storage” and “USB-OTG”.
  6. Finally, install the ROM. In TWRP, go to Install, and choose oxygenos_1.0.0.flashable.zip.

That’s pretty much the gist of it. If you need more detailed instructions check the OnePlus forum thread.

I’ve had OxygenOS for about a day or so. The Lollipop experience is really nice. However, coming from CyanogenMod 11S that was preloaded into the One, OxygenOS feels almost too basic. Some people may be disappointed by the lack of customisations, a key feature of CyanogenMod, and possibly a strong reason that made the One so desirable. However, OnePlus has said that hey will add more features in time to come. This first release of OxygenOS is expected to be mostly stock Lollipop, with only just a few OnePlus secret sauce added. Double-tap to wake-up the phone, among other screen-off gestures, are present. However, you don’t get the double-tap status bar to lock the phone.

OxygenOS uses the Google Now Launcher. The Google Now app is pinned to the left of your Home screen, and you can start voice search from any Home screen by saying “Ok Google.”

I did experience a problem which has also plagued CyanogenMod 11S and possibly many other ROMs. Google Play Services seem to always keep the phone awake. The screen is off, but the battery status page shows you that the phone is constantly, or frequently enough to be almost constant, awake.

This problem seems to have been discussed extensively on the net, and the root cause appears to be a recent update to Google Play Services. I don’t see this happening on my 2nd generation Nexus 7, but clearly this issue is not peculiar to OxygenOS or even CyanogenMod 11S. Hopefully someone or other will get this sorted out. It does seem that CyanogenMod has taken steps to circumvent the issue in there 12-series nightlies.

Despite that anomaly, OxygenOS still runs every well, and the impact on battery is not very appreciable. To be clear, it is noticeable, but not enough to impair your use of the phone. Nevertheless, some users, myself included, may be sufficiently bothered by the issue.

OxygenOS is a good first release. There are a few known bugs (aside from the above), none of which are significant, in my opinion. The lack of OTA, and the need to do a factory reset, may deter some casual users. On the other hand, experienced Android users familiar with flashing custom ROMs, and thus quite capable of handling OxygenOS, may find the new ROM too basic. However, OnePlus has to start somewhere, and I think their first launch is a promising start of more good releases to come.

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