Without these 9 customizations, your One Plus One sucks

  1. icekyuu
    Froyo Aug 4, 2014

    icekyuu , Aug 4, 2014 :
    I wasn't blown away by the software, a modified version of CyanogenMod built specifically for the One Plus One, when I first experienced it. After some tinkering however, I got the phone just the way I like it and now I'm in love. So this post is about those customization decisions. Yes, this is another excuse to geek out, but what's the Internet for if not to do that?

    This is not a complete list by any means -- the amount of customization possibilities are endless -- but these are the 9 changes I recommend to get a great experience with the One Plus One. I'd go so far as to say that without these 9 changes, the One Plus One isn't all that great.

    Related: Check out my review of the One Plus One for more context


    1) Face unlock

    Perhaps my favorite thing about the iPhone 5S (which I'm coming from) is Touch ID. It was so easy to unlock the phone that I couldn't imagine going back to passcodes and patterns. The first priority was therefore to figure out how to unlock the One Plus One; because I access cloud accounts with my phone, security is definitely required.

    I was surprised by how well face unlock works on the One Plus One (Settings > Lock screen > Screen security > Screen lock). Perhaps it's the 5 megapixel, wide lens front facing camera. Regardless, the phone was able to recognize me smiling or frowning, rocking headphones or even wearing a cap. I don't have to be fully facing the camera, though the speed of recognition goes up when I do. Recognition works best with sufficient light.

    Face unlock works fast. Not as quick as Touch ID, but quicker than passcodes and patterns.

    See it in action here - https://vine.co/v/M9vMdb62YBF

    I tested it with half a dozen people to see whether it would unlock for another face; thankfully, the phone didn't recognize anyone else. There's a trick where you can show a photo of a person and the phone would unlock. To combat that, you can require blinking eyes but that proved too cumbersome. If a thief stole my phone, I'm hoping he won't know my identity.

    Face unlock is not as good as Touch ID, but it's much better than passcodes and patterns. The latter are inconvenient because, with the phone's large size, two hands are required. One hand is all you need for face unlock.

    2) Double tap to wake and swipe to sleep

    With its 5.5 inch display, the One Plus One isn't the easiest phone to hold. Tapping the power button to open the phone can be a hassle. Fortunately, you can simply double tap the screen to wake up the phone -- this is on by default.

    The size of the phone also makes closing with the power button inconvenient. There's a shortcut for that as well. Under Settings > Interface > Quick launch shortcuts for 4.4.2 and Settings > Buttons > Quick launch shortcuts for 4.4.4 (note this option only appears when on-screen navigation is enabled), configure it so swiping up-to-the-left from the home button closes the phone (or up-to-the right depending on which hand you hold the phone with).

    I can now comfortably open and close the phone with one hand, which makes the phone's large size quite manageable.

    See it in action here - https://vine.co/v/M9vKQzl6ulq

    Note: You can of course swipe much faster than what I demoed in the video above.

    3) Home and work profiles

    The above two tweaks make the One Plus One much more comfortable to operate, but it was still annoying to do face unlock at home, in the dark, on the couch, watching TV. When you're safely at home, you don't need to fear burglars (as much anyway) so there's less need for security.

    Welcome to profiles. Under Settings > Profiles, tap the settings icon for Home. Set Lock screen mode as disabled. Now look to the bottom and tap on the geo icon and choose the WIFI network in your home. This means that every time you connect to your WIFI network at home, the phone will no longer require an unlocking procedure. You can do the same for Work. Then go to Default, tap the geo icon, and have the Default profile trigger whenever you disconnect from your home and work WIFI networks.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The above is confusing but worth figuring out

    What this means is that when you're at home or at work, simply double tapping will open the phone, no unlocking required. And when you've left home or work, the phone will automatically require an unlocking procedure.

    You're welcome! ;)

    Note: you can do other useful things with profiles, e.g. silencing the phone at work, maxing out the volume at home, etc.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014

  2. icekyuu
    Froyo Aug 4, 2014

    icekyuu , Aug 4, 2014 :
    4) Turn off V gesture shortcut

    By default, while the phone is asleep you can draw a V to quickly toggle the flashlight. Do you really want this though? How often do you need that flashlight? Moreover, it's easy to accidentally trigger the flashlight when the phone is in your pocket, which drains battery and makes you feel like a fool. So I disabled it under Settings > Interface > Gesture shortcuts > Flashlight for 4.4.2 and Settings > Gestures > Flashlight for 4.4.4.

    5) On-screen buttons

    One of the coolest things about the One Plus One is that it you have the option to go with on-screen or capacitive navigation buttons (under Settings > Buttons > Enable on-screen nav bar). If you choose on-screen, fear not, the capacitive buttons become practically invisible.

    There are pros and cons either way. I chose on-screen because I hold the phone with my left hand and it's a stretch to tap the capacitive back button. Unfortunately, many Android apps still rely on the back button so this is a big inconvenience.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Hitting the capacitive back button is an uncomfortable stretch for my small hands...no correlation to size of other body parts

    With on-screen controls, the back button is easy to access. I also like that if an app requires a context menu, the button for it will automatically appear.

    Another advantage with going on-screen is that it allows you to hold the phone by the chin, which can be helpful for long periods of reading.

    6) Don't wake on plug

    I found it annoying that when I connected or disconnected the phone from a power source it automatically woke up. To turn this off, go to Settings > Display & lights > Wake on plug.

    7) Battery percent

    Who doesn't want to see the battery percent? Yet it's turned off by default. To turn it on, go to Settings > Interface > Status bar > Show battery status percent for 4.4.2 and Settings > Status bar > Show battery status percent for 4.4.4.

    8) Smaller icons

    By default the app icons on the home screen are comically large. To make the icons smaller in 4.4.2, go to Settings > Home > Settings > General and un-tick Larger icons.

    With the 4.4.4 update, to make icons smaller, go to an empty part of your home screen and long press. You should see a gray panel slide up from the bottom with three icons: wallpapers, widgets and themes. See the up arrow consisting of three dots? Tap that or slide up to reveal a full menu. Scroll down and you should see Larger icons. Tap to switch it to OFF.

    9) Themes

    One of the amazing things about CyanogenMod is the ability to customize the phone's style, icons, fonts, wallpapers, lock screen wallpaper, boot animations and even sound. Out of the box you get Hexo (CyanogenMod's official theme) and Holo (Android stock).

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Hexo, the default theme, is not too bad

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Holo, stock Android theme (yawn, boring)

    There's also a theme store in the Theme Showcase app. I can recommend Flux ($2), which has amazing icons and an attractive style. You don't have to install the entire theme; for example, you might choose just the icons from Flux and keep everything else Hexo. You can mix and match to your heart's content.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Flux, the theme I am currently using

    Themes can be light or dark -- avoid the light ones, because there are parts of the OS where light font is displayed against a light background. When that happens, text is nearly impossible to read. These thematic bugaboos can't be fixed apparently, but if you go with a dark theme you won't have to worry about this happening.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Pressor with Hexo icons is attractive too, but a light theme

    There are so many ways to customize the One Plus One. The above 9 will greatly improve your experience with the phone.

    Have fun!

    10) Bonus: Bluetooth Trusted Device

    (Added October 6, 2014)

    Android Central calls this a "must-have for every smartphone going forward." What is it? It's the Bluetooth Trusted Device feature in the new Moto X. If you have an Android Wear smartwatch like the Moto 360, designate it as trusted and your phone is nearby, the phone requires no unlocking as Motorola assumes it is on you. The presence of the Moto 360 thus acts like a pass code.

    I recently got a Moto 360 (see my review of it here) so this feature interested me greatly. Bad news: the OnePlus One does not have this exact functionality. Good news: it already has the equivalent!

    Here's how you do it. I'm assuming you've followed the third customization above in Profiles. Go back to Settings > Profiles > Home and/or Work and reset all the triggers. Then tap on the marker icon (between NFC and trash can), scroll and you should see your Android Wear watch listed (make sure it's on and connected to your phone). Tap on that and tell it to connect on detection. Then go to Settings > Profiles > Default, clear all triggers, and tell it to disconnect on detection.

    What you've done in a nutshell is this: every time your phone connects with your smartwatch, no unlocking is required. Every time your phone disconnects with your smartwatch, unlocking is required again.

    How awesome is that??

    Note: it's necessary to clear all the WiFi triggers, otherwise you'll get in a situation where unlocking is required when you leave home even though you have your smartwatch on.

    Thanks for reading guys, and I do recognize my headline is just a wee bit click-baity. ;) If you enjoyed the article, check out my tech blog The Cornerplay. I post once a day about gadgets, technology and entrepreneurship.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014

  3. uber_bwnage
    Honeycomb Aug 4, 2014

  4. icekyuu
    Froyo Aug 4, 2014

  5. uber_bwnage
    Honeycomb Aug 4, 2014

    uber_bwnage , Aug 4, 2014 :
    LOL. Actually a pretty decent read.

  6. eset
    Honeycomb Aug 4, 2014

    eset , Aug 4, 2014 :
    It seems like no one cares about your post but I will give your some love for your effort.

  7. Juandossa
    Froyo Aug 4, 2014

    Mike 31, navarde, athuljs and 2 others like this.
  8. NateBrune
    Froyo Aug 4, 2014

    navarde, fkobylecki, deepakm and 9 others like this.
  9. MaxRe
    Gingerbread Aug 4, 2014

    MaxRe , Aug 4, 2014 :
    Thank you very much!! My OpO should arrive this week! can't wait anymore :)

    Parker Gamble, ronoldo and icekyuu like this.
  10. icekyuu
    Froyo Aug 4, 2014

    icekyuu , Aug 4, 2014 :
    Thanks MaxRe, NateBrune, Juandossa and eset for the props! You guys rock!

    basrone, ronoldo and catsarecool like this.
  11. phouse59
    Gingerbread Aug 4, 2014

  12. n19htmare
    Jelly Bean Aug 4, 2014

  13. shcxatter2
    Ice Cream Sandwich Aug 4, 2014

  14. ijo4lite
    Honeycomb Aug 4, 2014

  15. godzakka
    Froyo Aug 4, 2014

    godzakka , Aug 4, 2014 :
    Thanks for this. Although some of your tweaks aren't for me, I couldn't find "swipe to sleep" and was wondering how to quickly turn off the screen. I also chose the on screen buttons, for similar reasons.

    ronoldo and bukumu like this.
  16. hassaan7
    Gingerbread Aug 4, 2014

    hassaan7 , Aug 4, 2014 :
    Great thread mate. I'm having trouble customizing the profiles in greater detail and getting the best out of them. I am using the basics but I'm pretty sure there's a lot more that I can do for example when I'm at home vs when I'm out in a louder gathering etc. Can you post some of your settings/tips here.

    Jorge48197 and ronoldo like this.
  17. JuanL
    KitKat Aug 4, 2014

    JuanL , Aug 4, 2014 :
    I actually use double tap to wake and double tap (on status bar) to sleep... I already got used to them...

  18. Akki246
    Ice Cream Sandwich Aug 4, 2014

    Akki246 , Aug 4, 2014 :
    nice one dude really helpfull...will contact u once i get my phone..:p...:D

    ronoldo likes this.
  19. Friendly
    Gingerbread Aug 4, 2014

  20. taeyang
    Honeycomb Aug 4, 2014

    taeyang , Aug 4, 2014 :
    I beg to differ. From the countless reviews ive seen. The opo is GREAT even without any customizations. For that price its EXCELLENT!

    km00, Ceasedd, CallDon and 6 others like this.