OnePlus is known to keep its OS as close to the stock Android as possible, albeit with a few useful tweaks. OxygenOS, the custom ROM running on OnePlus devices, received a major update recently as the OnePlus 6 became one of the first devices to receive the Android Pie treatment. The update saw a complete design refresh, the introduction of navigation gestures, a new DND mode and Gaming Mode 3.0.
The OnePlus 6T is expected to take this a step further, as an interview posted on OnePlus forums with Szymon Kopec, product manager, and Crayon Hsieh, user experience lead, shed more light on the UI philosophy of the OxygenOS.
According to Kopec, OxygenOS provides a “fast, smooth and burden-less experience with no gimmicks".
On the software side of the things, the newest addition to the lineup might see further improvements and changes in gesture-based navigation, battery consumption, digital well-being and camera.
Kopec says navigation gestures have been made faster by adding a gesture that enables users to switch between two apps instantly. This was not possible when navigation gestures were introduced, as the “recents" button had been eliminated.
“As there was no navigation bar when using gestures, users weren’t able to double-tap the ‘recents’ button to quickly switch between apps. Now, with a quick flick from the bottom of the screen towards the right of your screen, you can change between two recently used apps," says Kopec.
The removal of the navigation bar meant axing of the home button, long-pressing on which triggered the Google Assistant. OnePlus has taken this into consideration.
“Another thing users couldn’t do with gestures in Version 1 was quickly accessing Google Assistant. That’s why we’ve added a new action: just hold the power button for 0.5s to activate Google Assistant," Kopec adds.
The UI update will also hopefully see a better battery consumption rate that combines AI learning and efficiency of the Snapdragon 845 chipset. “Our FSE team has added an AI-based algorithm that will allow the phone to learn when you sleep, so it can minimize background usage and reduce power consumption accordingly."
At its I/O conference earlier this year, Google announced it would be announcing a bunch of digital well-being features in Android Pie. While the Pixel smartphones with the Pie update tell you how much time you were spending on your phone and allow you to set a time to turn the screen black-and-white, the first update of OxygenOS 9 had very few digital well-being options.
That is probably because OnePlus has a different take on digital well-being.
“From a software perspective, our goal is to help users to finish their tasks as soon as possible rather than trapping users in our system," points out Hsieh.
“When users open one app, how can they recognize what they need to do, and move on to the next step? When they’re done, we want to encourage them to get off the phone and embrace the real world. Smartphones should serve our life, not dominate it," he adds.
While Kopec hints that the camera may have been made smarter via software updates, he does not specifically mention in what way. “We’ve also put a lot of work into improving the camera behind the scenes, so you can expect to take even better pictures."