Last October, OnePlus shook the Android enthusiasts community with a weird, but pleasant gesture, by releasing an Oreo-based Open Beta build for last year’s flagship devices, the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T, followed by an official stable update in late November, just a couple of weeks ago, making OnePlus the first (sort of) company to upgrade their devices to the new Oreo platform. While a lot of the OnePlus 5 discerning owners were left baffled, it was very satisfying and refreshing to see OnePlus striving to upgrade its devices as soon as they could, and sure enough that did put a smile on their fans’ faces, till they updated to the latest stable version, OxygenOS 5.0.
Of course, the Android 8.0 update includes a lot of major changes to the UI and the aesthetics, some newly added core functionalities, like the Picture-in-Picture mode and the Auto-fill feature, and some improvements and refinements to the whole user experience—the refined split-screen implementation is a prime example. But weirdly enough, OnePlus decided to skip some of the hallmarks of Android Oreo for unknown reasons as of yet.
The Settings app
Let’s begin with one of the most obvious changes of Android Oreo: the Settings app. With Oreo, Google has overhauled the Settings app to make things much easier and more intuitive. A lot of settings have been regrouped, resulting in a much shorter menu once you open the Settings app—about half the size of Nougat’s Settings menu. Unfortunately, OnePlus weirdly decided to settle with the Settings menu layout of the older Android release, despite incorporating Google’s new interface for the battery and storage settings.
The Quick Settings
Things get even more bewildering when you swipe down the quick settings panel, where OnePlus took yet another strange decision. With Oreo, Google decided to alter the way some of the quick settings are expanded. Instead of tapping on the icon itself, the user has to tap on the text right under the icon to expand it, whereas tapping on the icon will just toggle it on or off. I agree the text doesn’t look that much of a button to tap on. But that doesn’t give OnePlus the excuse to, rather annoyingly, do away with expanding menus altogether. That forces the user to take the more cumbersome approach of long pressing the Quick Settings tile to access the corresponding menu in the Settings app.
This trend of unexplainable choices continues through other aspects such as settling with Nougat’s split-screen —where Oreo’s interface allows “peeking” when returning to the home screen—and the inconsistent adoption of Oreo’s Adaptive Icons feature. But that isn’t where OnePlus disappoints the most.
No Project Treble Support
Last month, it was revealed in an AMA session on the OnePlus forums that OnePlus has no plans updating any of their devices with Project Treble support, one of Oreo’s defining features. While some may accept that fact for last year’s OnePlus 3/3T, it is an undeniably huge bummer to know that the OnePlus 5 and the recently released OnePlus 5T won’t receive Project Treble support anytime soon. For those unfamiliar with Project Treble, it is one of Google’s most important low-level changes that has been ever done.
Essentially, Project Treble should massively speed up the updating process of any supported device, since all the vendor-specific code is separated from the Android OS framework. This allows the OEMs to update their proprietary code much quicker via the Play Store. Furthermore, Google requires the OEMs to ship devices that can boot AOSP without any issues. This means that every Treble-supported device can boot an AOSP build compiled from the source! Surely this will take the whole development scene to the next level, making it possible for Treble-supported devices to hang around for much longer than just two years easily. Sadly, none of the OnePlus flagships owners will be able to experience such privileges. Certainly, that would have hugely benefited the custom ROM developers and made their life much easier.
It’s not all gloomy, though. Many of those who installed the update were happy to report a significant improvement in battery life, more specifically the idle drain. But I am sure OnePlus could have done a much better job if they just stuck with what Google provided.