Back in the early days of OnePlus, the company did not even have its own Android software skin. OnePlus One came with Cyanogen OS, based on the popular custom firmware from the early 2010s. At the time, it was an appropriate pairing for a brand that actively claims Android enthusiasts. But after an acute split from Cyanogen a year later, the company presented OxygenOS on OnePlus 2, its own software creation. It was called “light, yet powerful”, without “unnecessary gimmicks.”
Over the years, OnePlus’ pure Android software, enhanced with community-inspired features, has become a fan favorite. Even after the recent design overhaul of OxygenS 11 – a polarizing change for some – OnePlus software is generally considered to be sleek, high-performance and enjoyable to use.
Do we get ‘OxygenOS in name only’ with Android 12?
This is why there is concern among fans about the recent announcement that OnePlus OxygenOS will share a “common platform” with parent company Oppo’s ColorOS. It’s the latest phase of OnePlus’ “deeper integration” with Oppo, which is reorganizing the former as a straight up sub-brand of the latter.
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Now ColorOS from 2021 is far from the poorly designed, inflated nightmare we saw on Oppo phones five years ago. But it is still quite different from OxygenOS, with its own set of priorities.
Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central
The nightmare scenario for some OnePlus fans is future OxygenOS phones being launched on ColorOS in the West, as they are now doing in mainland China. However, CEO Pete Lau has stated quite directly that this is not happening and that OxygenOS will continue on global OnePlus devices.
The other fear is for an “OxygenOS in name only” firmware branded as OxygenOS, but which turns out to be just ColorOS wearing software equivalent with a top hat and a fake mustache. It is certainly a possibility, but in my view it is far more likely that OnePlus will do everything it can to retain the look and feel of OxygenOS, which is closely linked to the brand’s design language. The only question is how much ColorOS influence can be seen in the final product.
OnePlus insists that you will not be able to tell that OxygenOS 12 is based on the same code as ColorOS.
OnePlus, for its part, says: “This is a change that you probably won’t even notice since it’s happening behind the scenes.” And the statement about the future of OxygenOS reaffirms its commitment to the software. By doing this, OnePlus gets its message ahead of possible news stories coming from software sleuths who find bits of ColorOS in the upcoming OxygenOS 12 release.
To decode what future OxygenOS versions might look like, it’s worth exploring OnePlus’ reasons for wanting to build from the same software foundations as Oppo. This is not how OxygenOS has failed and needs to be replaced. In fact, the company often trumps numbers around software satisfaction among users, which has OnePlus ranking as number two for Apple.
Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central
Between the lines of both the OxygenOS statement and the announcement of the Oppo sub-brand, one can find an admission that recent OnePlus updates have been too slow to appear and less stable than they should be. OxygenOS 11 took more than six months longer to arrive at OnePlus North than the flagship 8 Series; it then had to be withdrawn shortly after launch due to critical errors. The same problems and delays applied to the OnePlus 7 series, which at the time of OxygenOS 11’s launch was barely a year old and still one of the best Android phones.
None of the above is good, and OnePlus software issues over the past year have undermined its efforts to grow into a full-fledged big-boy phone brand, with more than just a few phones released each year. The obvious solution, especially in light of OnePlus’ new status as an Oppo sub-brand, is to bring in some of the parent company’s software resources.
A larger OnePlus needs a new approach to software updates.
And the results, if one is to believe OnePlus’ new software plan, are promising, with flagships like the OnePlus 9 Pro due to receiving three years of OS updates and four years of security updates.
We hear different things about how much ColorOS influence there will be in the next version of OxygenOS when it’s done. However, any design changes that are present are likely to be a side effect of the new engineering setup rather than their primary purpose. Instead, this latest move focuses on expanding software support and ensuring that the software is stable at launch.
So if you’ve worried about the OxygenOS features you’ve loved in the OnePlus 7, 8 or 9 when you walk away, you can not lose too much sleep yet.
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