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How OnePlus Builds OxygenOS Around User Feedback

In somewhat over 2 days from now, OnePlus will announce its next product line during 3 simultaneous launch occasions held in america, Europe, and India. In a primary for OnePlus, the smartphone model is about to unveil two smartphones: the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro. This can be a model that took to Reddit to advertise its first smartphone simply 5 years ago, yet is now partnering with T-Cellular in the U.S. for the second time. Despite its progress in offline channels, OnePlus remains at its core an fanatic model for the related shopper. The development of its OxygenOS software program exemplifies OnePlus’ strategy to its products: It’s all about consumer feedback.

For anybody following OnePlus since its early days, you’ll keep in mind that the corporate as soon as had a partnership with the now-defunct Cyanogen Inc. to ship the OnePlus One with Cyanogen OS. Disputes over licensing and exclusivity offers pressured OnePlus to develop its own in-house, Android-based working system for the worldwide market referred to as OxygenOS. A number of months later, the company ditched OPPO’s ColorOS in the China market for its personal in-house HydrogenOS.

Screenshots of HydrogenOS based mostly on Android 5.zero.2 Lollipop, released again in June of 2015. Both Android and OnePlus have come a great distance since then.

Quick forward four years and OnePlus still maintains each HydrogenOS and OxygenOS for the Chinese and international markets respectively. The newest versions of each OS are based mostly on Google’s Android 9 Pie launch, and each OSes, once wildly totally different in design and options, have largely converged save for a couple of differences in pre-installed apps and region-specific providers. Whereas the corporate was finalizing its launch preparation for the OnePlus 7 collection, I had the opportunity to talk with Gary Chen, Head of Software program Product Operations at OnePlus, concerning the firm’s philosophy toward OxygenOS and especially how the corporate incorporates suggestions from customers into function improvement.

New concepts come from throughout

Like every smartphone model, OnePlus doesn’t simply have one individual arising with every new function in OxygenOS. There are multiple teams engaged on new features or iterating on the design of the OS, groups to squash bugs, groups to do bring-up on the subsequent Android release, and so forth. Since new concepts can come from many various locations internally, OnePlus sometimes puts its software developers together in a single place to brainstorm.

Mr. Chen informed us that OnePlus holds a semi-regular, multi-day workshop for its product and design teams the place OnePlus staff convey up ideas of their very own or from customers on-line. The standard outcome: over 50 concepts get collected. After choosing probably the most usable and practical concepts, the company decides which ideas to convey to market. That’s where crucial process in OnePlus’ function improvement cycle is available in: consumer research.

OnePlus often collects feedback on its concepts from users, both online and in-person. Every few months the corporate holds its Open Ears Boards in places like London, San Francisco, New York City, and most just lately, in Goa. On-line, the corporate sometimes turns to social media or its own forums. Most of the time, the company approaches users with a function or two already in mind, but typically the company instantly solicits users for brand spanking new ideas.

Designer Léandro Tijink, the winner of the OnePlus Product Supervisor Challenge, reimagined the design of the OxygenOS setup wizard, amongst different modifications.

Relying on the reactions from customers, OnePlus then decides in the event that they need to implement the function into OxygenOS. If the response is muted, then it’s back to the drawing board. If there’s genuine excitement within the function, then the corporate should determine on the precise function implementation. To take action, they ask themselves why users are requesting the function so they can better perceive tips on how to implement it in a approach that satisfies their wants. As soon as they have a good suggestion about what users want in the function, they design a product wireframe with 1 or 2 ideas to go together with the wireframe. Then, they turn to their beta testers.

Beta testers are the gatekeepers of latest OxygenOS options

Few smartphone manufacturers are as open with their function improvement as OnePlus is. Google has a beta program for brand spanking new Android platform releases, but their betas are primarily targeted on fixing bugs with AOSP moderately than Pixel. Samsung’s beta packages are a current improvement, however their betas solely final until the secure launch is obtainable. Motorola and Huawei also have beta packages, although both brands solely permit a couple of customers to apply for testing. OnePlus, like fellow smartphone brand Xiaomi, provides each closed beta and open beta packages.

The OxygenOS closed beta channel is just for adventurous users who wish to stay dangerously; closed beta testers sign an NDA to get the prospect to try out new features in-development whereas also helping OnePlus fix bugs. Leaks from this group are taken very critically because they jeopardize the trust that OnePlus has constructed up with its beta testers. From the tens of millions of users who own a OnePlus system, only about 400 users are a part of the OxygenOS closed beta group. An identical number of customers are part of the closed beta group for HydrogenOS.

However, the OxygenOS open betas are available for any consumer to put in. OxygenOS even allows the consumer to sideload update packages from the interior storage. The open beta is the place most of us can take a look at the brand new software features OnePlus has worked on.

The newest OxygenOS Open Betas for the OnePlus 5, 5T, 6, and 6T added a number of new features and in addition redesigned the system updater.

Initial prototypes of latest options, what Mr. Chen calls “product wireframes,” are served to users within the closed beta teams. The corporate surveys and talks to their users concerning the function until they’re glad that beta testers are glad with the function. That is an iterative course of—roll out a function in the closed beta group, survey or speak to users immediately concerning the function, make modifications, roll it out to open beta testers, rinse and repeat. OnePlus additionally screens function utilization during beta testing to see if the function is high-value for customers, or if it’s not applicable to convey to their international or Chinese markets. Mr. Chen says the corporate checks new features about 3 occasions on this manner to ensure they’re ready for manufacturing.

General, Mr. Chen estimates that your complete process—from analysis to testing to re-testing—takes about 3-6 months on average. By the point a function reaches an OxygenOS secure launch, OnePlus has had months of preparation to realize a high degree of confidence in the function. Despite the months of effort that OnePlus puts into any given function, the corporate continues to be at the mercy of whatever Google cooks up within the subsequent Android launch. OnePlus doesn’t see that as a nasty factor, nevertheless.

Getting ready for the subsequent OxygenOS launch

Google I/O just ended last week, giving us a reasonably good picture of what to expect for the upcoming Android 10 Q launch. For shoppers, we’ve new features like a system-wide darkish mode, absolutely gestural navigation, privateness enhancements, desktop mode, and rather more to look ahead to, whereas the OxygenOS software group is making an attempt to figure out learn how to merge the newest modifications and add new features on prime. Adding new options in OxygenOS typically leads to modifying core conduct within the Android framework; any such modifications might cause conflicts with the subsequent Android launch if Google modifications the conduct themselves.

OnePlus has to determine the right way to resolve this conflict—do they keep on with their weapons and use their own implementation or do they use Google’s? Basically, Mr. Chen says that OnePlus seems for a compromise that permits them to offer their very own features alongside the new Android options. It was this view that led the company to offer their very own full-screen gestures and the two-button Android Pie gestures in OxygenOS 9. OnePlus might be investigating each new function in Android Q, and if they determine Google’s implementation is best than their very own, they’ll try to maintain each versions so everyone is glad.

The brand new gestures in Android Q are quite totally different when compared to the gestures in OxygenOS. In this state of affairs, OnePlus will try to hold their own gestures and the brand new ones mandated by Google.

When the subsequent OxygenOS model comes out, we’ll see simply what number of new Android Q options OnePlus managed to maintain. Customers feel fairly strongly about Android Q’s new darkish theme, but OnePlus has been forward of the curve in providing a built-in darkish theme. Nevertheless, there are numerous different features coming to the Android platform that aren’t guaranteed to point out up in OxygenOS. It’s as much as users to precise their want to see these and other new features make their approach into OxygenOS. Voice your help for brand spanking new options on social media, on the OnePlus boards, and on XDA, and your concept might find yourself as a headlining function on the subsequent OnePlus smartphone. It’s straightforward to be cynical concerning the effectiveness of giving suggestions online, however understand that OnePlus is the corporate that used Reddit for suggestions on the OnePlus One and even the new OnePlus 7 Pro.

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Function picture credits: OnePlus.

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