After a protracted wait, Nothing OS 1.5 is now available for the Phone (1), and we have been diving into the top new features.
With just one Android device in the firm’s portfolio, it has taken a little longer than you might expect for such a lightweight take on Android 13 to hit the stable milestone. You could level criticism at the London-based startup, but the good news is that if you have the Nothing Phone (1) then you can get the latest version of Android right now. Here are 15 of the top new features we think you need to know about in Nothing OS 1.5.
With the Nothing Phone (2) confirmed to come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-series processor, it’s likely it’ll ship with Nothing OS 1.5 later this year, you might want to know what’s up. If you’re looking for a full rundown of every individual new addition, then be sure to check out our full walkthrough with Nothing OS 1.5 here.
Video — Nothing OS 1.5: Top new features
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Themed Nothing Weather app
One of the biggest new additions in Android 13 for Phone (1) is the overdue Nothing Weather application. The dot-matrix design that has become a signature of the company is draped all over this fairly simple weather-tracking app. Everything is monochrome with beautiful line-style graphics giving what is fairly basic information a unique look and feel. One major downside we can foresee is that this app isn’t coming to more devices via the Play Store.
Improved camera UI
It would be wrong to call the default camera interface changes an “overhaul” as it’s far from that. However, the changes are notable nonetheless. Lots of the menu animations have been adjusted for a smoother feel, but the performance boosts result in a snappier experience. Switching modes is faster and UI elements take up less space when loaded in.
System performance boosts
Nothing OS 1.5 includes a few under-the-hood performance improvements that might exceed many of the other features on this list as it could vastly improve long-term viability for many people. One the major benefits is the supposed 50% increase in app loading speed, which means your phone should feel much faster after installing Android 13 for the first time. Background memory management helps reduce the speed at which your most used applications load into view.
That’s not all, as app startup speed is said to be a whopping 71% faster. Meaning that if you open an app after closing previously, it should be ready long before a device running Android 12. You can see that extra attention has also been paid to app animations and transitions. This is most obvious when unlocking, with a slower fade-in of your home screen rather than popping into view. I must admit that I personally prefer the old animation.
While the in-display fingerprint scanner is solid. This too has been tweaked with a supposed 12% boost to accuracy. Nothing has also touted a self-repair feature that’ll clear unused cache and expired system dumps to help keep things running smoothly on your Phone (1). You might not notice these changes in Nothing OS 1.5 but they are important features that build upon what was already a smooth experience.
New Glyph sound packs
Sure, the Glyph lighting panel could be considered a gimmick, but it’s still one of the most unique design traits of an Android phone in recent years. The little LED strips are useful as a soft light for videos and photos, but it’s in notifications where Nothing sells the functionality.
Eleven new ringtones and notification tones have been added in Android 13 alongside the existing 10. The new ringtones span simple digital bleeps to more musically aligned options like “woo yeh.” This includes some basic vocals and sounds very much like something you’d hear while playing a Game Boy. If, like me, you’re in silent mode 99.9% of the time then you might not be all too bothered, but the new light shows are cool.
Better Material You integration
Material You is already baked into Nothing OS. In Android 13, it becomes an even bigger part of the system with more integration into areas such as menus, toggles, and much more. More color swatches can be extracted from your wallpaper within the “Wallpaper & style” app, which has a greater effect on how you experience Nothing OS 1.5.
There’s also the introduction of Themed icons that will change color based on your color preferences here too. Any supported applications will get a monochromatic icon that will change when you alter the device wallpaper or theme. It’s great for creating simple, cohesive device themes, but sadly not all icons are supported at this stage.
Customizable lockscreen shortcuts
Nothing OS 1.5 has added a feature that even the Pixel won’t have access to until Android 14. Lockscreen customization means you can change the default shortcuts that appear at the bottom left and right of your screen. By default these shortcuts are set to Google Wallet and Device controls.
With Android 13 on Nothing Phone (1), you can change these to the flashlight, camera, device control, and wallet or disable them entirely. Hopefully, we’ll see more options in the future, but for now, this is a big step up for quick access before you even open your phone.
QR code in Quick Settings
The Quick Settings panel is many things, but at its heart, it’s designed to be a section of your device that is home to persistent and useful controls/functions. Google has changed many things here since launching Android 12, but the Google Lens-powered QR code scanner is a good move.
You’re now able to launch directly into the QR code scanner in Android 13 when running Nothing OS 1.5 too. This is great for quickly scanning the resurgent dot matrix bar codes and saves a lot of time as you don’t need to launch Google Lens or the camera app to start scanning.
Multi-language app support
If you’re bilingual or speak more languages, it’s likely nice to hear that Nothing OS 1.5 comes with the ability to set distinct per-app languages. This might even be helpful if you are learning a language as your system language can be completely different. Android 13 includes lots of distinct dialects too, but the application will need to have support for those before you can change the language settings.
When you copy text anywhere in Nothing OS 1.5 the clipboard preview pop-up in the bottom left has more features. Tapping the pop-up opens a new text editor window where you can adjust or refine the text before pasting where you feel like it. There’s even a quick Nearby Share button when you want to send copied text to other connected devices.
Manage running services
Android isn’t perfect at managing or killing those rogue running services that sap at your battery. Sometimes you’ll use apps that run in the background without your knowledge. In Android 13, a new “Active apps” section in the Quick Settings panel keeps track of any apps that are currently using system resources.
If anything is running, you can tap this area and see just how long an app has been running in the foreground but is not visible. Hitting “Stop” simply stops the app or service from running and frees up system resources.
When you’re playing music or general media in Android 13, there’s a brand-new media center layout that aims to put album artwork back on full display. That’s not all, as the player includes a wider selection of controls right at your fingertips, including app-specific options such as a “Like” button in YouTube Music.
If Cast-enabled devices are available, there’s also a button to quickly connect and a playback progress bar that you can use to quickly skip forward or backward. This panel is also much larger and easier to manage.
Better Game Mode
Nothing OS 1.5 now features a vastly improved Game Mode, which is now based on Google’s Game Dashboard. The old gaming-specific mode needed to be set up to launch with specific apps. It also added very little in terms of functionality. Game Dashboard is a full gaming suite with FPS counter, a quick screenshot tool, YouTube live-streaming tools, plus game optimization options for supported games.
Another neat feature that has been added is Live caption, which works in any app or service. Although it’s quite an old feature at this stage, it is useful if you want to get speed-to-text from all of your favorite content. If speech is detected, your phone will generate captions that can be resized or dismissed when you’re done.
New Photo picker
The new photo picker in Android 13 is a pop-up panel that lets you choose to only give apps access to the specific image libraries and albums. It’s a system-wide picker that aims at ensuring added privacy to you. It’s visually sensible as often in-app galleries and photo pickers can be confusing or annoying. It still doesn’t work with every app, but more apps are starting to support it over time.
Personal Safety app
The Nothing Phone (1) is actually one of the first non-Pixel Android devices with Google’s suite of Personal Safety tools. Personal Safety debuted as a Pixel-exclusive app, which includes features like emergency contacts, SOS, crisis alerts, and car crash detection.
With the update, most of the core Personal Safety experience is accessible to Nothing’s customers. Crisis alerts ensure you’re aware of any ongoing emergencies in your region, while medical info and emergency sharing options are there to help plan ahead should disaster ever strike. Sadly, the Car Crash detection function is not available, but we’re hoping it’ll come with a future update.
What is your favorite Nothing OS 1.5 feature?
The move from Android 12 to Android 13 is more than just the feature-set, as Nothing OS has gained some important tuning to improve the overall experience of this fairly new software build. Have you updated your Phone (1) to Android 13? If so, what is your favorite new feature or function? Let us know down in the comments section below.
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