Digital Wellbeing has been of prime importance this year – a year that saw us getting cooped up in our homes and look at the world from the tiny realms of our smartphones. While our smartphones kept us connected to our world – work, friends, studies, and more, I won’t be wrong if I say they completely threw life out of balance. Our smartphones got us exposed to the negativity that’s lurking around on social media, causing more than just mental trauma. It introduced us to problems that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Hence, digital wellbeing is of prime importance to us, especially in an age where our devices are the only gateway to the outside world. Surely, we need to rely on them to carry on with our lives but there needs to be some control exercised. After all, the smartphone is and should be just a tool, not something that enslaves us with depression, anxiety, and trauma. A “smart” phone needs to keep us away from all the hatred and trolling that’s dominant on social media. There needs to be a balance between the artificial digital world of people spreading a sense of hate and fake happiness, and the real world around us – the world where we belong, a world where we need to be more often. We need to cut down on these unnecessary and harmful life distractions.
OnePlus as a smartphone company has understood this and ever since last year, it tried to ensure better digital wellbeing with its Zen Mode feature – a feature that blocks most of the distracting stuff in your OnePlus smartphone for a short period of time, letting you “live” your life. The company recently releases a short film titled “Stop at Nothing”, featuring Kalki Koechlin, describing the same that I just spoke of. Since the film itself was shot on the OnePlus 8T, we got in touch with Siddhant Narayan, Head of Marketing, India for OnePlus, discussing both the device and the company’s efforts to ensure a proper digital-natural-life balance.
The short film with Kalki is about digital wellbeing. How much does OnePlus as a brand support a good balance between life and tech?
Digital well-being has always been part of our core philosophy and also ties down with our promise of delivering a burdenless experience with our products. Over the years, OnePlus’s technology has been consistently developed with the aim of simplifying the life of a user, from making important information easily available to them to reduce the time and effort spent on completing tasks. At OnePlus, we believe technology should serve you, not the other way around.
Having said that, there are some significant new features, centered around digital well-being in the new OxygenOS 11, features such as:
Insight AOD (Always On Display) – We created this with students from the Parsons School of Design in New York centering it around digital wellbeing. Insight AOD literally tells you how much you are using your phone. This feature basically translates time into a color bar. So, every time you unlock the phone, it makes a mark on the bar. The longer you use the phone, the more of these marks you see. You may consider less using your phone and focus on something more important if there are many marks on the bar.
Group Zen Mode – Originally Zen Mode defaulted to 20-minute sessions. But most users wanted the option to customize the time limit. Now you can set it all the way up to 120 minutes. With the new OxygenOS 11, we’ve introduced more choices, including new themes and a group Zen Mode where you can invite your friends to join you in zen-ning out.
In the tough times we are in, regulating mental wellbeing is crucial for people. Do you think the smartphone can play some role here?
While our smartphones are exciting pieces of technology, we do tend to overuse it, especially since the world experienced a lockdown. Digital detox as a principle helps us detach from our smartphones and enjoy the world around us a little more. These apps make us cognizant of our digital habits and help us keep our phones down and at OnePlus, we believe, technology should help in increasing productivity. This was one of the core reasons behind making it with Kalki Koechlin as she resonated with ideology. She came up with the script all by herself and that is a testament to her inclination towards digital well-being. It was a joy to onboard her for this as it was important to have someone who resonates with our philosophy.
How we use a smartphone is integral to our digital wellbeing and I personally make sure to switch to the Zen Mode for 20 minutes every day to ensure I can disconnect from the technology to enjoy the world a little more. One of the greatest additions for me has been the Work-Life balance which enables me to use my phone just for the important tasks and I use my laptop to toggle for professional tasks.
Going forward, what does OnePlus have in store to ensure its customers enjoy good digital wellbeing?
With the launch of Oxygen OS11, our entire product design is around keeping usage at the minimal while keeping all updates handy and visible without even unlocking the device. To build on our core ideology of burdenless design, we have made sure all the important data is most visible. Statistics depict that it takes only a second to glance through all the important data which an user needs to be updated on and with OOS11, we have made sure our community spends less time taking in information on their screens. With it, It’s about providing a fast and smooth user experience where we’re adding as little as possible to the device. As stated earlier, at OnePlus, we want our technology to be an extension to the user and not something that controls them.
What was the goal with OnePlus 8T’s cameras?
We have been able to take some of the OnePlus 8 series camera strengths and then build on to those for our upcoming flagship. We truly believe that the new OnePlus 8T 5G, combined with its robust and versatile camera kit, impressive 120Hz display, and incredible display which ensures the highest color accuracy possible across the industry, will help take your photography to the next level.
Apart from this, we have also incorporated new algorithms and software optimizations to accommodate every situation possible and auto-adjust for more vivid color and cleaner details to get that perfect shot even with minimal illumination.
OnePlus had shot Nat Geo magazine covers with the 7 Pro last year. The 8T is doing a video shoot this year. Is the focus on video quality this year?
This year we have made major improvements in the video department. With the introduction of super stable mode on our smartphones, videos have never been any smoother. With the optimization of super stable mode and introduction of ultrawide video, we have managed to get almost professional-looking video content on our smartphones as well.
With the launch of our 8 Series, our community appreciated the work which had gone into making their video quality better and with the OnePlus 8T 5G -we’re pushing the line further. We have incorporated new algorithms and software optimizations to accommodate a variety of preferences and scenarios. With the addition of the monochrome camera, expansion of the ultra-wide lens and an improved nightscape mode, the 8T can frame the perfect portrait while also capturing expansive landscapes. The improved AI also enhances the video experience with focus tracking, portrait bokeh, optimum stability, and low-light enhancements for a better performance. In addition to stellar mic quality, the 8T is able to capture vivid color and sharp details to produce the perfect captures even with just minimal illumination.
What’s the next big thing we should expect from OnePlus?
The year 2020 has been different for each and every one of us and we at OnePlus also revamped our approach given the numerous challenges. We have a lot of developments in the pipeline and with our recently launched OnePlus Nord; we re-entered the affordable premium smartphone segment which the community had asked for a long time. Along with that, we launched our range of TVs to cater to our ever-evolving community. We are currently working on expanding the OnePlus ecosystem to cater to all aspects of a person’s digital and technological needs.