This is how OnePlus plans to distinguish itself with OxygenOS 11

OxygenOS 11 on Android 11

OxygenOS 11 on Android 11Supply: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

OnePlus’ rise over the past six years is attributable to 3 key components: strong {hardware}, clear software program, and a powerful give attention to the neighborhood. By focusing on fanatic customers and relying totally on word-of-mouth promoting, OnePlus was in a position to maintain its preliminary momentum.

After all, {hardware} had a powerful function to play in OnePlus’ journey as effectively. OnePlus epitomized its By no means Settle mantra by providing Qualcomm’s flagship chipsets for a number of hundred {dollars} lower than the likes of Samsung, and that specific trait continues to this present day on the likes of the OnePlus Eight and eight Professional.

However the largest differentiator for the corporate is software program. From the start, OnePlus targeted on a clear consumer interface devoid of any bloatware — a stark departure from its Chinese language counterparts. Whereas Xiaomi, OPPO, Huawei, and different Chinese language producers launched worth flagships with comparable {hardware} as OnePlus, they could not match the corporate when it got here to software program.

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That target clear software program and well timed updates turned OnePlus right into a fan favourite in international locations like India, the place it overtook Samsung to take the primary spot within the premium class. With OxygenOS 11, OnePlus is introducing a brand new visible aesthetic that units the stage for the corporate’s shifting ambitions.

OnePlus is now not promoting telephones simply to fanatics, and the modifications in OxygenOS 11 replicate simply that.

Whereas OnePlus began off catering to fanatic customers, it’s now a longtime participant within the smartphone section. It rolls out flashy adverts that includes celebrities (Robert Downey Jr. is the model’s ambassador), sells its gadgets through carriers within the U.S., and is constructing a retail presence in markets like India.

OnePlus makes among the greatest Android telephones cash should purchase, and this yr the producer is updating its portfolio to focus on a extra mainstream userbase. The OnePlus Nord is the primary salvo in that effort, with the telephone out there for the equal of $335 in India. OnePlus is constructing on the Nord with an much more inexpensive Nord N10 5G that might be out there within the U.S., and an entry-level Nord N100 that may debut at simply $200.

It could have been unthinkable for OnePlus roll out a tool that includes Qualcomm’s entry-level snapdragon 400 collection chipset just some years in the past, however the firm is clearly increasing its horizons. That is evident with the modifications to OxygenOS; the OxygenOS 11 replace is the largest visible overhaul in OnePlus’ historical past and is designed to make the interface approachable to a wider set of customers.

OxygenOS 11 settings page

Supply: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

As a lot as I just like the simplistic styling of OxygenOS 10, the fact is that most individuals don’t use inventory Android. Google’s Pixels and Android One gadgets make up a tiny portion of the Android userbase, and to a median individual, Android is synonymous with Samsung’s One UI. It is no marvel, then, that OnePlus is popping to Samsung for inspiration for OxygenOS 11. Quite a lot of the visible modifications in OxygenOS 11 are designed to facilitate one-handed use and are just like what Samsung launched in One UI final yr.

To get a way of the course that OnePlus is taking with OxygenOS 11, I chatted with Sam Twist, Senior Product Supervisor at OnePlus. Twist is part of OneLab, a small design crew inside OnePlus that laid the groundwork for the brand new visible format.

OnePlus’ in-house OneLab design crew laid the groundwork for OxygenOS 11 after intensive consumer suggestions periods.

OneLab is a 12-member crew based mostly out of London, New York, and Taipei, and because the crew is exterior the purview of the core OxygenOS groups based mostly out of Shenzhen and Hyderabad, India, it will get extra flexibility to take an overarching take a look at OxygenOS’ visible aesthetic.

OneLab repeatedly runs workshops and suggestions periods with the neighborhood to additional develop new concepts, and sends the suggestions “upstream” in an inner Demo Day that features OnePlus CEO Pete Lau to determine what concepts will be added to the OxygenOS roadmap. The place OneLab differs from OnePlus’ common neighborhood efforts is that its efforts are targeted on customers in European and North American markets.

With OxygenOS 11, one of many key drivers was one-handed use. With screens getting taller and narrower, it is now not attainable to work together with all of the UI parts on the telephone one-handed, so OnePlus targeted on usability as a cornerstone for the modifications to the visible format:

OxygenOS 10.5 struggled to adapt to the modifications in display sizes over the past two years. It grew to become a burden for customers to succeed in all of the UI parts, and one of many core values in OxygenOS 11 was to optimize the one-handed expertise and ship a UI that aided prospects of their day-to-day utilization.

Twist talked about this “burdenless expertise” because the catalyst for the design modifications in OxygenOS 11. Though the will increase in display sizes provide extra actual property for including UI parts, OnePlus was cognizant of constructing the interface too advanced and complicated to customers. So it as an alternative targeted on delivering a bolder interface with contrasting colours designed to make info stand out.

Twist talked about that individuals use their telephone in two methods: quick bursts lasting just some seconds to test an incoming notification or look one thing up, and settling in for an extended length to devour content material. The modifications in OxygenOS 11 are designed to facilitate the previous use case; with the daring colours making it simpler to parse info at a look.

OxygenOS 11 zones

Supply: OnePlus

OnePlus additionally checked out anthropometric knowledge to determine how folks maintain and work together with their gadgets, permitting the corporate to zone in on touchpoints which can be straightforward to succeed in, require stretching, and are arduous to entry.

With this info in hand, Twist says his crew was in a position to tailor OxygenOS 11 UI parts for one-handed use, with the buttons and menu choices situated within the easy-to-reach zone and the part on the prime of the display devoted for displaying info.

That daring styling and contrasting colours make OxygenOS 11 look very totally different from earlier variations of the UI, and I made it very clear that I am not a fan of the brand new look. That stated, having used OxygenOS 11 for the higher a part of a month and understanding the form of customers OnePlus is focusing on with the replace, I get the reasoning behind the modifications.

The usability-focused modifications do make a distinction in day-to-day use, and whereas OnePlus is aiming for a extra mainstream userbase, it is not ditching customizability simply but. From Twist:

Customization is certainly one of our core pillars; there’s extra customization in OxygenOS 11 than ever earlier than, and we’re unwavering by way of providing selection. We now have a bolder model, however we by no means got down to inhibit anybody’s utilization of the gadget. That is additionally one of many most important the reason why we rolled out the OxygenOS 11 beta to our core neighborhood so we are able to get early suggestions from our customers.

Twist stated that preliminary OxygenOS 11 suggestions from core customers was unfavorable, however as time went on and extra customers engaged with the beta, the general suggestions turned optimistic. He stated that the OxygenOS crew is continuous to take suggestions from the preliminary beta builds and incorporate it into the secure construct that is slated to roll out someday later this month.

OnePlus gathered suggestions for a number of months in consumer workshops earlier than it rolled out the OxygenOS 11 closed beta, and Twist talked about that his crew performed plenty of A/B testing to fine-tune the interface modifications.

OxygenOS 11 Always-on Display

Supply: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

One of many key additions in OxygenOS 11 is the always-on show. OnePlus followers have been clamoring for AOD for some time now — Twist says it was the neighborhood’s most-requested characteristic — so with OxygenOS 11 the corporate not solely added the characteristic, but in addition launched a brand new Perception choice that promotes digital wellbeing.

The Perception AOD model was designed in collaboration with the Parsons College of Design, and features a vertical colour bar that reveals what number of occasions you’ve got unlocked your telephone and utilization over the course of the day.

The extra you utilize your telephone, the much less colour is left on the vertical bar, serving as an amazing visible reminder to make use of your telephone much less. Twist talked about that the mode acts as the perfect gatekeeper:

We honed in on the thought of utilizing AOD to help folks with their digital wellbeing and psychological well being. The AOD acts because the gateway for the telephone; if we are able to add an influence there and make somebody perceive how a lot they’ve used their telephone, we are able to make a distinction.

The colour bar nearly fades away when you have a excessive screen-on time, and Twist stated that using colour as a delicate indicator for display utilization mixed with the less-subtle unlock counter on the prime served the perfect steadiness for the mode. Twist additionally talked about that OnePlus is engaged on further AOD kinds that may debut in time for the secure rollout.

OxygenOS 11 live background

Supply: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

OxygenOS 11 represents a giant shift for OnePlus. Whereas the corporate dominates the thoughts share, its market share is minuscule in comparison with Samsung, Huawei, OPPO, and Xiaomi. It’s aiming to vary that by turning its consideration to the mid-range and funds segments, and the software program performs a giant function in making the corporate extra attractive to a mainstream viewers.

So in that context, the design modifications in OxygenOS 11 make plenty of sense. The fanatic neighborhood — whereas vocal — makes up a small minority of OnePlus customers, and the corporate is targeted on delivering significant modifications to all of its customers. That stated, the options that made OxygenOS engaging to fanatic customers aren’t going away.

Along with AOD, OnePlus is rolling out the power to schedule darkish mode, a brand new font that with higher readability, thrilling updates to Zen Mode, dynamic backgrounds, and quick spotlight reels from images saved in your gallery. The Chinese language producer is continuous its dedication to well timed updates, and the OnePlus 8T will run OxygenOS 11 based mostly on Android 11 out of the field. So whereas the UI is getting a recent coat of paint, the core of OxygenOS remains to be intact, and that is welcome information to me.

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