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Reading Mode is About More Than Reading

Of all the exciting new features that launched with the OnePlus 5 In 2017, one stood out to me above all others: Reading Mode. Back then, I used Reading Mode the way it was intended, to read. Today, Reading Mode is still my favorite OxygenOS feature, but its role has changed dramatically. Reading Mode has become my default display mode. Here’s why Reading Mode is the perfect antidote to the most 2020 problem around: distractions.

The most valuable commodity of our generation isn’t something you physically own. Although we constantly consume online content, we rarely pay for the things we see with the money in our wallets. Instead, we pay with our attention. How we spend that attention has become vital to how we spend our days. The best content is optimized for distraction, because every second of your attention has value. More than ever, I ask myself how I can guarantee I only spend my attention on content I choose to engage with.

In 2017, the OnePlus 5 dropped with all the glitz and bravado you’d expect of a flagship device. With all eyes on the top-of-the-line specs, the addition of Reading Mode flew mostly under the radar. While Reading Mode didn’t immediately replace my Kindle, it did significantly improve the reading experience on my smartphone. For the first time ever, I managed to work my way through a novel from page one to page 500 without straining my eyes to the point of tears. Since then, Reading Mode has become one of my most used OxygenOS features.

The reasons why are plentiful, both technical and psychological. Let’s get the most common technical concern out of the way first, blue light. Blue Light’s a known contributor to sleep deprivation and eye-strain. Over the years, we have consistently worked towards improving they viewing experience on our devices. With an A+ rating from DisplayMate and an SGS Eye Care Display Certification, you can rest assured that your reading experience is both crystal-clear and highly comfortable.

Reading Mode’s primary purpose is to emulate the reading experience of an e-ink display on OLED. Let’s back up for a second; what’s the deal with e-ink displays in the first place? An e-ink display, as found on most e-readers, is reflective, meaning that it doesn’t generate its own light. Instead, it reflects light from other sources, like your desk lamp or the sun. Your OnePlus device on the other hand, uses an emissive display, which means that it emits its own light. This is why a smartphone display is more tiring to look at than an e-ink display. Reading Mode combats this problem by setting your display to grayscale and filtering out blue light. Moreover, you can set Reading Mode to block ‘Peek Notifications’, ensuring you won’t be tempted by a funny tweet or unexpected email.

“Wrenching back control of your internet experience starts with becoming conscious of your habits and shutting off unnecessary distractions.”

For reasons that are not entirely unrelated to my fondness of gaming and slapstick YouTube videos, my sleeping habits had been on a downward spiral for much of the past two or three years. It wasn’t until a colleague shared they’d used Reading Mode to reduce how much time they spent on their phone at night that I decided to do the same. The effects were immediate and decisive. The rabbit hole of bright blue links that is Wikipedia quickly lost its grip on me when viewed in Reading Mode’s grayscale, while the infinite streams of Tweet that passed my screen were reduced to nothing.

In 2020, there is no shortage of blinking lights and tempting buttons to vie for your attention. How we spend our time online is something we often lose control over. Wrenching back control of your internet experience starts with becoming conscious of your habits and shutting off unnecessary distractions. Whenever we’re drawn away a task, we lose minutes’ worth of focus. There are times when it pays to be the most hyper of hyper-taskers. The point isn’t to stop multi-tasking, the point is to be in control of when you do.


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