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The Oxygen Story – Creating Software That Breathes

The story behind OxygenOS reveals how a company and a community collaborated to create an operating system like few others – low on bloat and high on customizability.

The threats to a great phone experience are plentiful, but few rival intense lag in its ability of rendering a great phone completely unusable. At OnePlus, we strive to make sure every function of our devices feels effortless and fast. We have worked hard to reduce the wait time between functions, resulting in a fast, smooth and burdenless experience.

Creating a software experience that is fast, smooth, and easy to use, demands a combination of planning and engineering. You can’t tack on a boat-load of features and expect to create a pleasant user experience.

Like a memorable painting or book, a good software experience is made up of a small, but heavily refined set of deliberate features and algorithms.

If you weren’t told, you’d probably never know what RAM Boost is or does. Yet, complex algorithms like this, play a key role in maintaining a fast and smooth experience. OxygenOS’ success depends solely on our unrelenting pursuit of a single goal – to create a fast and smooth software experience. Features that do not contribute to this goal are never added to the phone.

During development of the OnePlus One, a key focus of ours was to deliver a software experience that would resonate with the market. At the time, we impressed new users with our close-to-stock Android experience. Over time, we expanded our software by introducing new customization options and streamlining background processes to make our software quicker, smoother, and more accessible.

Through our many interactions with the OnePlus community, we became heavily attuned to their needs and desires. Their specific needs and expectations of our products fed directly into the way we built our phones, our brand, and even our software. With little to no experience in software development, we knew we faced an uphill battle to convince our tech-savvy followers of OxygenOS’ qualities. We desired to turn our software into a truly collaborative effort with our community, which inspired us to develop our own Operating System. As a sign of intent, we asked our Community to name this operating system. This is how OxygenOS was born.

OxygenOS is unique. It isn’t just user oriented; our community is right at the center of product development. Before any feature gets implemented into OxygenOS, we first make sure it caters to our users’ needs across different regions. To maintain our global standards, we do several rounds of testing – initially among our closed beta testers. This specific group of core community members has volunteered to provide instant feedback on our builds, sometimes on a daily basis.

After further development, an early build of every feature is tested internally by our staff across the globe. Once their suggestions and feedback has been evaluated, our team develops further revisions and improvements. The next build is released through our Open Beta channel, for testing by the most daring members of our community. Once this final round of feedback is passed, we’re finally ready to release an update over the air.

This iterative approach forms the backbone of each of our features. For instance, Screen Unlock has undergone multiple updates and optimizations, many inspired by user feedback, to make it perhaps the fastest in-display fingerprint reader on the market. The moment you place your finger on the screen of the OnePlus 7 or OnePlus 7 Pro, Screen Unlock automatically recognizes your fingerprint and unlocks your phone in just 0.24 seconds. Things only get faster when you’re on the home screen. You can swipe left to quickly access the Shelf screen and open your most-used apps straight away, reducing the time it takes to find the things you want.

Over the last few decades, technology has become more and more integral to our way of life. We view our role in technology’s expanding importance in our society to be about making technology that serves the community, rather than inspiring dependence. When the first smartphones and social media platforms took off, being able to talk to friends and family wherever, and whenever, revolutionized the way we communicated. In 2019, we’re starting to become aware of the limitations and consequences of being plugged in 24/7. We’re actively developing new tools to ensure you control when and where you’re interrupted. What’s more, when you need a more decisive break from the digital world, you can use Zen Mode to give yourself 20 minutes offline.

A metaphor we commonly use to describe OxygenOS is that it should function like a good umbrella. A good umbrella is an object you don’t think about when it works. But if it’s bent, or if it’s too small or heavy or starts leaking, you begin to take notice. Great software doesn’t get in the way, great software just works.

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