Bespoke as a concept is exotic when it comes to smartphones. Unlike other types of consumer technology, there is little that can be made to suit a phone’s hardware. Therefore, software customization remains an inclusive and integral part of personalizing smartphones.
Android has traditionally been a symbol of freedom to customize. But with so many brands running wild with the sole aim of increasing their market share, practical use of handheld technology is being eclipsed by features like superfast charging speeds and fantastical photography prowess.
Nothing, an infant smartphone brand, aims to change this by emphasizing the meaningful use of smartphones and giving users the power to control their phones instead of being controlled by them. But how well does it perform on its first attempt? Not as impressive as it would like it to be, I’m afraid.
That is why at first glance Nothing OS seems suitable for nothing.
How Nothing Is Labeled Minimalism
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei didn’t set anything up in 2021. Right from the beginning, it has tried to provide consumers with a delicious experience with technology, while minimizing distractions and making these experiences less boring than what was already available. Therefore, its philosophy – as its name trumpetes it – thrives along the lines of minimalism, even though its first product, the Ear(1) earbuds which launched in August 2021, follows that approach only aesthetically.
In March 2022, it did not hold anything special to announce its plans to launch a new phone. Though prolific leakers gave us a glimpse of the phone, nothing emphasizes the feel that separates the phone (1). The keynote contained symbolic references to Star Trek and was narrated by what looked like Carl Sagan.
In a nutshell – and quite ironically, enlightening – the event did not promise to build an iconic product ecosystem dedicated to seamless connectivity. The company also gave us a preview of its customized Android skin – called “Nothing OS” – hailed as a solution that allows its phones to compete with Nothing’s products, as well as other major tech brands in the world. Allows you to join.
According to Pei, Nothing OS will capture the best of Android in an adulterated form.Limiting the Operating System to Only EssentialsFor an objective, incredible and personalized experience with the smartphone. The company aims to create an experience with delightful harmony of UI elements, colors and sounds in its custom skin.
As promised at the event, Nothing has opened a new beta preview of Nothing OS in the form of a custom Android launcher, currently available only on Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S22 and Google Pixel devices (Pixel 5 and newer). available for. I tried the launcher to assess how it gives a sense of minimalism that nothing supports.
Nothing What OS Beta Preview Offers
Nothing OS Launcher is available on Google Play Store on the above mentioned devices. Contrary to the company’s goal, Nothing Launcher feels quite dull and without inspiration. These are the features seen in Nothing Launcher.
a bare-bones launcher
Nothing Launcher mimics the simple menu options on the Pixel Launcher, which are limited to Google’s smartphones. The options in the home screen menu are traditional (read the boilerplate). Plus, there are only two primary options in the launcher settings – to show notification dots on app icons and to add newly installed apps to the home screen.
Nothing Launcher allows users to resize app icons. But unlike a host of other Android launchers that enable you to fine-tune the size of the icons, nothing offers the option to enlarge the icons to a huge footprint. I fail to see the value behind the unusually long icon.
The unusual icon size becomes even more troubling when you realize that the padding between two enlarged icons is the only thing that adheres to minimalism. Closely spaced icons rob the home screen of empty space in a way that can only be classified as a benign massacre of minimalism.
The app drawer with its fixed icon grid and its lack of any option to change it, once again, feels like a small thing.
Nothing Launcher only offers one wallpaper – even though the company claims it has three. This is the same wallpaper with jagged lines that was first shown as part of a preview of the operating system in March 2022. Contrary to the view that nothing wants to sell, the wallpaper looks quite distracting and reduces the visibility of text and widgets. Speaking of widgets, there are some interesting additions here but, once again, nothing unusual.
I saw another wallpaper in one of the settings menu, but could not apply it as system background.
The only compelling aspect of Nothing Launcher is the assortment of custom widgets that it brings. There are only three widgets – a digital clock, an analog clock and a weather widget. Digital clock and weather widgets boast the hallmark dotted-line font of nothing.
I fail to understand how nothing connects this font to minimalism. Instead, its retro aesthetic alludes to classic imagery associated with futuristic technology. To me, it’s reminiscent of digital billboards and thus, visual noise.
Nothing says it adds three special ringtones designed by audiophiles, but I couldn’t find them when running Nothing Launcher on my Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
i wish it was
While nothing favors stripping down the standard Android interface in favor of a less intrusive Android skin, I do think certain features could help the company deliver the message better, while also making it different. .
Unlike emphasizing nothing, its launcher doesn’t look like a step towards an ecosystem for seamless interconnection between devices. A widget or sub-section of the app would make more sense to manage everything in one place. This may include options for managing wireless connections and Bluetooth devices, toggling sound profiles, and controlling smart home devices via Google Home integration.
Nothing not only misses the mark with its uncompromising “minimalist” design, but it also leaves – at least in initial impression – the opportunity to set an example for other brands while assuring users that it is doing something worthwhile. doing.
For nothing credit, it teased an all-inclusive quick settings interface at its March event. But it won’t be possible until it releases full firmware for devices to test it on.
A minimalism mode to go
Google and Apple have floated the idea of digital wellness for the past few years. While Android offers the ability to hide notifications while you work, iOS allows you to set multiple intervals, after which it returns a brief summary of notifications. OnePlus – and its affiliates such as Realme and Oppo – have also bet big on a work-life balance mode that allows users to categorize aspects of their lives from personal and professional fronts. Meanwhile, Xiaomi offers a Lite Mode that automatically increases the size of the icons (within tolerable limits) to make use easier for inexperienced users.
Xiaomi’s MIUI 13. In Light mode (left) and Standard mode
Nothing offers a solution like this to allow users to withdraw from unwanted noise. Simple gestures or shortcuts to enter less distracting mode would have meant a lot.
Brands should promote minimalism, not silliness
While nothing as a brand does anything to help users dodge the relentless stream of digital distractions, it doesn’t seem to take a step in that direction. Instead, nothing’s approach of separating options in Android feels unwelcome and weak. If there is one aspect in which nothing succeeds, it qualifies as unique; Nothing The first preview of the OS is conspicuously dry. The first draft lacks the skills, maturity and most importantly, enthusiasm for technology – and that is undoubtedly disappointing for a technology company.
For now, I’ll be inspired by Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl’s famous and highly relatable quote—with some modifications to make it gender-neutral and better-appropriate for modern times. “Everything can be taken from one” [human] But one thing: the ultimate of human freedom – to choose one’s point of view under any circumstances, to choose one’s own path. Nothing has chosen its path, and that’s what worries me.