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How Léandro is opening OxygenOS up to everyone

Coming in at a modest 480 mock-ups, Léandro’s plan to vitalize OxygenOS blew past the other contestants to claim first place in OnePlus’ inaugural PM Challenge contest.

Where most would draw the line at a 10-slide PowerPoint presentation, Léandro burst through all reasonable limits with his original submission. Counting 480-something mock-ups, Léandro’s towering pitch deck was stacked to the rafters with solutions and suggestions for every aspect of OxygenOS. When asked whether he was surprised to walk away with the grand prize, Léandro can barely surprise a chuckle. With a project many orders of magnitude larger than virtually every other submission, it’s no wonder Léandro swept away his competition. We sat down with the 19-year old wonderkid to discuss how he tackled his monstrous ‘Reworked OxygenOS Experience’ project and his vision for software design. Design has always exerted something of a magnetic pull on Léandro, who worked on his first website at age 7.

Even at the time, Léandro looked to build websites that matched beauty with usability. It was this nous that led him to delve into the more complex forms of web and software design. A product of his age, Léandro was guided along his path to design stardom by friends he made online.

His personal Never Settle story begins a few years later. After being shown the OnePlus One by a friend, Léandro tried and, like so many, ultimately failed to obtain an invite to purchase his own device. Even without a device of his own, Léandro couldn’t resist the call of the OnePlus Community. He was fascinated by the same thing that had attracted countless passionate techies to the OnePlus forums – a phone built hand-in-hand with the people who owned it. A few generations later, Léandro finally acquired his very own OnePlus 5, a device he calls “practically flawless”.

“My initial plan was to just improve the setup portion of OxygenOS. But, after a few friends reached out to me, I decided to tackle the entire OxygenOS experience,” Léandro says. “You could say, it escalated pretty quickly.” Léandro laughs.

Even when he veers close to goofball territory with his one-liners, Léandro never leaves room to second-guess his software design chops. Though still in his teens, Léandro speaks with the authority of a weathered UX designer.

“My philosophy is that you should view software as a tool,” Léandro says, “This means your software should be an extension of yourself.” Léandro pauses to translate the complexity of his thought process into something even I would be able to understand. “Basically, I want a user to understand what every screen means and what every feature does, the moment they first see it.”

While something of a software guru himself, Léandro is wellaware that most phone owners lack his experience and resulting expertise. His greatest challenge in redesigning OxygenOS wasn’t to tack on unneeded features or adding complex new tools for experienced users. Instead, his goal was to make OxygenOS more accessible to older and less tech-savvy users, without invalidating its clean and customizable design.

“You see, there are a lot of older generations who would love to keep up with modern technology. My grandmother has been looking to own her own smartphone for a very long time, so I recently gave her my old OnePlus 5. But, since she doesn’t know exactly what to do, I think OxygenOS should be optimized to be more accessible to people with less experience and knowledge. The user doesn’t receive enough help to accomplish his or her goals. These kinds of changes would also help you reach a much larger group, because, while most younger users know how to make the most of their technology, it’s the older generations that struggle to keep up.”

It’s immediately clear how passionate Léandro is about making software more accessible, but he’s wary of limiting users’ freedom in any way.

“Great software just works, I think,” he says, before catching himself. “But, if you guide users too much, you risk taking away their control. This is something I want to avoid.”

It’s a difficult balance to strike, one Léandro hopes to nail by making adjusting instructions and reordering menus to make them more understandable to first-time users. “To me, it’s all about ‘where do I put each function?’, because you have to make sure the user always has a clear view of where to go to do what. Software has to be open, but even for real power users it has to be really easy to access each and every feature.”

Conceived in the spirit of stock Android, Léandro’s original designed hewed closely to Google’s original design. Following his success in the PMChallenge, his obsessive focus on details drove him to revise his revamp to bring it closer in line with OxygenOS’ own design identity.

“One thing I really focused on was creating a new structure for the settings menu,” Léandro added, “On top of that, I shared a survey with the OnePlus Community to get their feedback on the OxygenOS launcher. It’s further proof of the camaraderie that pervades the OnePlus Community, creating an environment where everyone can receive feedback and improve their own work. According to Léandro, this constant exchange of support and feedback was key to bringing his own project to life.

“I knew from the beginning I wouldn’t be able to do everything by myself, but that’s why OxygenOS is Created together with the community.”

Even with the support of the Community, work on Léandro’s project demanded an enormous time investment. “I’ve been working on this project for at least four hours a day, ever since the PMChallenge was announced.” Despite the enormity of the task, Léandro appears upbeat and excited to elevate his labor. “Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve continued to refine my rework. This has taken up about 12 hours a day. I knew from the beginning I wouldn’t be able to do everything by myself, but that’s why OxygenOS is Created together with the community.”


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