The future of OnePlus’ messy phone software has us worried

The OnePlus 10 Pro comes with OxygenOS 12 installed on Android 12. That’s the good news. The bad news is its considerable similarity to Oppo’s ColorOS 12 software, and all of its inherent issues have sparked controversy among OnePlus loyalists. Many are looking forward to OxygenOS 13 as a savior, but OnePlus’ current posts about it are confusing and noncommittal.

But was OnePlus’ old OxygenOS software really that much better? After all, it’s easy to look back in rose-colored glasses when faced with disappointment. To find out, I put the OnePlus 10 Pro alongside the OnePlus 9 Pro to see if the adoration for previous versions of OxygenOS could be attributed to nostalgia before we got too caught up in our expectations for it. coming.

What’s wrong with OxygenOS 12?

The problem with OxygenOS 12 is that it’s the identical to Oppo’s ColorOS 12, which makes it not very good. Both suffer, in my personal opinion and experience, from two main issues: poor reliability and a dismal approach to design and user experience. I’ve been using OxygenOS (and ColorOS and RealmeUI, which are basically the same) a lot recently, and I’ve been having the same issues, which convinced me they were software issues rather than “me” issues. “.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Reliability can be dismal. I use WhatsApp and Line to chat with friends, and unlike every other phone software I use, OxygenOS randomly fails to send notifications for each. Even if I restart the phone in the morning, it doesn’t always show that new messages have arrived, and if they arrive during the day there will often be no indication either. But because it doesn’t happen all the time, and always happens when I tell Android not to restrict background activity, it’s frustrating and unpredictable.

Aggressive power management – OxygenOS and ColorOS constantly pester you about power-draining apps – doesn’t help, which then brings me to the other problem with the software: it’s intrusive, messy and too complicated. Presumably, this is software that was created by an expert, but it still feels like a work in progress, ready to be finished by you, the owner. I do not want that. I want the expert to create the best, smoothest, neatest software possible. It’s not a framework for me to spend like an hour tweaking regularly to make it usable.

Back to OxygenOS 11

What’s interesting about the return to OxygenOS 11 on the OnePlus 9 Pro is how much more put together, usable, and “fast and smooth” it is. From its out-of-the-box logical setup to sliding out the app drawer and customizing different aspects, the OnePlus 9 Pro is more logical and enjoyable to use. It’s a difference you notice immediately. Interestingly though, many aspects of the base design aren’t really that much different.

But the approach designing is very different. A good example of the irritations of ColorOS/OxygenOS 12 is when changing the wallpaper. Long press the screen to start the process and on OxygenOS 11 you get options for wallpaper, widgets and home settings. If you tapped the screen by accident, you tap it again and it disappears. Everything is quick, easy, and intuitive, and the options presented are ones you can use quite often.

In OxygenOS 12, you long-press the screen and get options for wallpaper, icons, layout, and transitions. What about widgets? Ah, it’s the unlabeled “+” icon at the top left of the screen. Activated all this by accident? Tapping on the screen does not make it disappear. To do this, press the small Fact button at the top right of the screen. It’s too complicated (when’s the last time you needed to quickly change the icon shape and home screen transitions?) and not user-friendly at all.

I secretly wanted OxygenOS 11 to be a little underwhelming.

This difference really highlights the lack of thought that seems to have gone into making OxygenOS 12/ColorOS 12 usable on a day-to-day basis, and how well-designed Oxygen OS 11 was. All the customization is still there, but it’s not on the surface. That’s good, because most people won’t care or only need it once.

Don’t dismiss the OnePlus 10 Pro

I could go on, and I will. I prefer the clear, colorful, and obvious buttons used to reply to messages in the Notification shade in OxygenOS 11 over the small, easily missed text used in OxygenOS 12. It’s particularly ironic because: ColorBONE. OxygenOS 11 had a consistent design throughout, but OxygenOS 12 has variable font sizes, round and square icons, and mismatched button designs that give it a messy, messy aesthetic. The old Photos app is more sensibly designed than the new Gallery app and doesn’t use the boring “large random image” approach that plagues the new version. OxygenOS 11 never shows a single notification from an Optimizer app, telling me that an app is draining the battery, but OxygenOS 12 does that several times a day.

Before launching into the comparison, I secretly wanted OxygenOS 11 to be a little disappointing. I was hoping it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered. Unfortunately, it’s better than I can remember, which makes OxygenOS 12 even worse and means that OxygenOS 13 still has a lot of work to do to restore faith when it arrives in the future.

Does that mean you should skip the OnePlus 10 Pro? No, this is not the case. Although the adoption of ColorOS is a misstep on the part of OnePlus, you get used to OxygenOS 12 and its problems. You’ll also only really be aware of the big differences if you’re coming straight from an OxygenOS 11 device. OnePlus 10 Pro is a good smartphoneand you won’t be disappointed as a whole, but long-time devotees of the brand and its products won’t be happy with the software.

Will OxygenOS 13 save the day?

We’re stuck with OxygenOS 12 for now, then. However, OnePlus is certainly aware that version 12 hasn’t won many fans, and it has already spoken publicly about working on OxygenOS 13. Does that mean it’s coming to save the day, as the company is prides itself on listening to its Fan community?

OxygenOS 12 and ColorOS 12 software pages.
OxygenOS 12 (right) and ColorOS 12 (left) Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Unfortunately, OnePlus’ comments on the future of OxygenOS are confusing. In an interview ahead of the OnePlus 10 Pro’s global launch, OnePlus said it was committed to “keeping OxygenOS and ColorOS as two separate software experiences,” but that certainly didn’t happen with version 12. In a later post from the OnePlus forum, the company written on OxygenOS and ColorOS, stating that “OS teams are fully integrated and ready to collaborate and learn from each other’s experience. Together we will build OS products hand in hand.

This doesn’t imply big changes are coming, but in the same post he then promises, “OxygenOS 13 will not change the core product philosophy that OxygenOS has always adhered to, such as a fast and smooth experience, without burden, ease of use and reliability. Elsewhere, OnePlus said the future of OS will be “an experience that long-time OnePlus users will know while ensuring that it respects the characteristics of OxygenOS”.

None of these statements match actual experience using the current version of the software, so it’s hard to dismiss them as anything other than marketing chatter and OnePlus is toeing the company line. This means that the future of OxygenOS is uncertain, and since OxygenOS 13 is based on Android 13 (which has yet to be officially announced by Google), there are still many months until we find out what the future of the software.

For now, OxygenOS 12 is what we have and while it’s unlikely anyone will like it, we’re going to have to live with it. Also, based on the lack of clarity regarding OxygenOS 13, it might be in the long run.

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