(Pocket-lint) – A new version of Android is a fresh opportunity for smartphone makers to add their own stamp to the customisable phone operating system. And with Android 12 having been available in beta form to multiple third parties for a good number of weeks and months, the manufacturers have had a long time to tinker, enhance and play with it. 

One such manufacturer is OnePlus, which recently joined Oppo to share resources across smartphone and R&D divisions, putting more resources into updates. With that announcement, we were keen to see exactly what OnePlus phones were going to get in the next major software update. Thankfully, OnePlus has shown it off. 

It’s safe to say that OnePlus‘ OxygenOS 12 isn’t as radical a change from version 11 as that was to the previous software, but there are still a handful of new features that could enhance the experience of using a OnePlus phone. 

Release date 

  • Open beta launched September 2021
  • Coming to other devices soon
  • No offical word on final release

The open beta for OnePlus’ next major software update has already been made available to OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro users in September, and now we’re just waiting for official word on when the first public version is coming. The manufacturer hasn’t given us a timeline yet, but we suspect it will be relatively soon given the announcement of the new features. 

OxygenOS 12: seven key changes

Redesigned icons

In previous years, OnePlus has typically used very flat, minimal icons throughout its operating system. But that’s about to change. In OxygenOS 12, the app icons are getting a lot of love. The company’s software designers have revamped all the icons to give them more depth by adding shadows and gradients and making them feel a lot less simple. 

On the flip side of that, to make important icons and functions easier to understand, it’s simplified some of the smaller icons within the user interface to make them easier to understand and read across multplie regions. 


New Shelf 

The biggest visual change is the redesigned Shelf. This is OnePlus’ snapshot view of popular functions, widgets and information. Usually it’s for things like viewing today’s temperature/weather, adding a quick note, checking the battery level of your connected buds, or seeing where you parked your car. Like the redesigned app icons, there’s a lot more depth added by richer graphics, shadows and textures. 

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New Notes app

One of the big new pre-installed bits of software is the new Notes app which appears to take a lot of inspiration from some other more fully-featured note-taking apps. With the new app you get a lot more formatting options, including using bullet points, test justifying and font weight adjustments. Plus, you can use the Doodle feature to scribble onscreen with virtual pen and pencil ink. 

New Zen mode/Private safe design

Zen Mode and Private Safe aren’t new features as such, but OnePlus has completely redesigned the look of the apps, using lights, shadows and gradients. The aim was to “provide a sensoe of secure and mental comfort through visual changes”. We’re not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds like the company was trying to use colours, light and shadows to enhance how the app felt to use. So Zen Mode design was made more “zen” and the Private Safe now has the aesthetic of its own separate, secure space. 

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Updated Canvas AOD

OnePlus’ Always-on display customisation featured something called Canvas in the previous software which lets you use a photo as your wallpaper, but then the always-on lock screen would create a basic outline of that picture on a black background. With OxygenOS 12 that’s been enhanced with additional styles of Canvas. Rather than just the single white line style, it now has more brush styles and colour effects. 

Work Life Balance 2.0

In previous versions of Oxygen OS, OnePlus has had a feature called Work Life Balance available in India. With OS 12, the company is rolling it out to other regions, and lets you set up custom work and life interfaces. You can activate your work mode to come on during work hours, or based on location when you arrive at the office. Life mode is more focused on not getting distracted by work tasks while you’re not supposed to be working, customising which apps and notifications you have front and centre. 

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Multiple dark modes

With most phones, when it comes to dark mode, you only get one option. Either you have it switched on, or not, and it turns your interface completely black. With OnePlus’ latest system, you can adjust how dark you want dark mode to be. There are three options: gentle, medium and enhanced. The last of those is the pitch black interface, with the other two being progressively lighter. 

Which phones are getting it? 

The open beta software is already available for the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, but will be coming to the following models as well: 

OnePlus hasn’t given an exact timeline for when each of the listed phones are expected to get the official version of the new software update, but we’ll continue to update this feature as more information is revealed. 

Writing by Cam Bunton. Originally published on .

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