OnePlus is celebrating the first anniversary of its R&D center in Hyderabad. The company inaugurated the R&D lab a year back, today, on August 26. Since then, the brand has launched several devices in the market. However, the Indian R&D center has allowed the brand to focus on the software side of things. This includes several India-centric features in OxygenOS. Hence, on this occasion, we dug deeper on all the India specific features that have launched with recent OnePlus smartphones. Some of these features include the recently implemented Scout Unified Search interface along with existing “Cricket card”, and more. For some context, OnePlus Scout allows you to shave seconds off your experience with the help of deep search.
We interacted with Ramagopala Reddy Palukuri, the Vice President, OnePlus R&D, India for more information. “If our beta tests are anything to go by, feedback from the community has been extremely positive on the feature. This is currently being piloted in India and based on performance and feedback, might be available on builds across regions and in OxygenOS builds in the future,” Palukuri revealed. He also mentions “India being the largest market for OnePlus with the biggest user-base makes the feedback funnel most effective.”
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Reddy clarified that the OnePlus R&D center in Hyderabad works in unison with other regions to curate an experience that is intuitive for a specific region while being universally acceptable in nature. “The India R&D team has also contributed immensely to the software development efforts and has led OxygenOS development on the OnePlus Nord, which included development towards camera software, 5G network optimizations, and OxygenOS customizations,” says Reddy.
Improvements on the way
Speaking on upcoming additions, Reddy revealed that the OnePlus Sports app will soon get the ability to include football scores along with cricket updates. OnePlus will also launch the Work-Life Balance 2.0 feature to help users control the amount of time on their smartphone. This could help people who are spending too much time on their phones during lockdown. OnePlus is also implementing a new floating window feature in its gaming mode with MIUI-like floating windows for multitasking.
However, another major area where software updates make a significant difference today is camera performance. Well, the good news is OnePlus has a dedicated camera software team at the center in Hyderabad that works towards creating unique, customized tuning for specific scenarios for the Indian customer base.
“With the most recent launch of the OnePlus Nord, many of the features including the camera set-up have been driven and supported by vital contributions from the India R&D team,” states Reddy. He adds that “The OnePlus R&D team in India also worked towards creating improved bokeh and nightscape mode quality for the OnePlus Nord device’s camera, through constant upgrades towards the SDK or Software Development Kit. In addition to the new features added to the OnePlus Nord camera, the Indian team also worked towards ensuring that the image processing continued to remain fast and smooth while achieving and maintaining effective stability results.”
Google Apps replacing stock OnePlus apps
Talking about the OnePlus Nord, we couldn’t help but notice that for the first time in OnePlus history, the company has not added its in-house dialer and messages app. Replacing them on the Nord were the Google Dialer and Google Messages app. OnePlus states the reason behind this to be uniformity.
“The launch of Google Comms suite on OnePlus will provide a centralized platform of accessibility across Android devices. Hence, by having Google onboard, OnePlus is providing that familiar platform with a smooth experience with OxygenOS,” said Reddy. This could mean we might see more stock OnePlus apps be replaced with Google counterparts in the future. Perhaps Google Photos could replace the Gallery app. We might even see the stock Clock app replace its OnePlus counterpart.
However, this does come with its own set of perks and disadvantages. In the Messages app context, for instance, users gain RCS support with the Google Messages app. However, they lose out on the classification ability the OnePlus messaging app featured in partnership with Gupshup. While OnePlus declined to comment on this, we really hope useful services that made OnePlus software stand out don’t get caught in the crossfire between originality and reaching a broader audience.
A looming bloatware-threat
OnePlus recently came under the crosshairs for preloading some Facebook apps and services on its last three devices. These include the OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Pro, and the OnePlus Nord. The tech community criticized the move because although the apps themselves were uninstallable, the Facebook background service wasn’t. OnePlus declined to comment on the matter including the much-demanded changes would come to older OnePlus devices.
OxygenOS 11 and beyond
With Android 11-based OxygenOS 11 on the way, both users and the tech community are expecting substantial changes in the OnePlus UI. The brand has already announced the third developer preview for OxygenOS 11 on certain devices. This allows enthusiasts to try out the new UI before the official release. It also allows these people to relay valuable feedback directly back to OnePlus. Not a lot of brands are offering Android 11 developer previews right now. These should help the brand iron out any small bugs ahead of the official release.
One of the major additions coming with OxygenOS 11 or simply OOS11 is the Always-On display feature. OnePlus reveals that it has been collaborating with Parson’s School of Design and has sought inspiration from some of the brightest minds in UI design to bring the new OOS11 Always-On screen to life. If you’ve been following tech leaks, you know how the new Always-On screen looks.
“The OOS11 Always-On Display has been optimized to fit right into the OOS DNA, providing an experience that is new yet familiar. We are looking forward to rolling out OOS11 in the coming months,” said the company on the upcoming developments. With an official Android 11 release date closing in quickly, we are likely to see brands like OnePlus start rolling out their Android 11 skins. Amongst them, OxygenOS 11 will definitely be one of the skins to look out for.