Compilation: OnePlus September Software Edition AMA
Yesterday, the OnePlus team took to Reddit’s Android subreddit to field questions and provide answers. This AMA (Ask Me Anything) session was attended by Brian (Head of ROM Product), Aaron (Android Technical Lead), Omega (ROM Dev Lead), Bradon (Community/Marketing) and Carl (Head of Global). The AMA was intended to be software focused, but the team answered a fair few general questions as well.
Here is a compilation of everything we’ve learned from the Reddit AMA:
General Questions and Future Plans
bad-_-horse: Has your focus shifted from providing good phones on a budget or will you still aim to have good and cheap phones? Will you release multiple tiers of phones at once?
Bradon: We’ve never made a “cheap” phone, and pricing has never been a main focus for us. We start by creating the best products we can and go from there. That said, we are pretty proud of our streamlined operations which allow us to be competitive in terms of pricing.
nikigx2: /u/Carpe02 are there any plans on releasing OnePlus smartwatch?
quicksilver101: Any reason on why OnePlus does not incorporate FM Radio functionality into the devices? The OnePlus 3 is missing FM Radio, and FM still continues to be a favorite feature for those who are not looking at locally storing music nor relying only on data-driven streaming (in India at least).
Carl: Our users in India are very different from average users in India. Clearly over indexing on income, education and similarity to our users in US and Europe.
pankajparikh: Can we expect the next #OnePlus to include a Type-C 3.1 with MHL Alternate Mode?
Aaron: I can’t comment on future products but why do you want MHL over displayport over type C.
pheymanss: What has been the hardest decision to justify to enthusiasts, and what has been the hardest to actually implement in your devices?
Carl: It’s not about justifying, but learning together. The good thing with our users is that they’ll always hold us accountable to our mistakes. An example is the whole debacle last year with NFC.
TehSViN: Have any of you guys tried out ubuntu touch on the one plus one?
Carl: Tried it, but TBH it’s not an operating logic I could get used to.
0912873465no: As someone who has been primarily an iOS guy, what is the biggest advantage for me if I switch to a OnePlus as opposed to a different Android product?
Carl: It’s best if you can try different products and just get the one you like the most as there’s no definite best smartphone. We all have different needs.
Wiz-1543: A software OS question. Will OnePlus support other mobile OS like Ubuntu or Windows 10 in the future?
Aaron: No plans officially but you’re welcome to port it. I have seen Ubuntu touch and sailfish running on devices unofficially.
OxygenOS, HydrogenOS and Their Unification
MikeyyL2304: Can you tell us a little bit more about what’s happening with Oxygen OS and Hydrogen OS right now?
Brian: We combined platform, system and framework already. Application layer is separated. So, global users will still have the Oxygen experience and users in China will have Hydrogen experience. Just to add to this, we invite you all to check out the latest Community Build for the OP3 here: https://forums.oneplus.net/threads/oxygenos-3-5-2-mm-community-beta-for-oneplus-3.465273/ . The 3.5.x Community Builds feature the merged platform, and you can see that it’s still very much OxygenOS. We’re also implementing a huge amount of community feedback, and we’d love to know what you think as well.
kira94: By oxygen experience do you only mean the launcher or is the entire UI is going to be stock-ish as it is right now for the global users?
Brian: The entire UI will be stock-ish. We are just adding interesting and useful features on it.
harold_admin: Will the stock Android aesthetic of Oxygen OS change? Is OnePlus developing a UI skin of their own? If so, what would be the main advantages of this skin over stock?
Omega: We will always stick to create a pure Android experience while at the same time adding some features that we believe will be very valuable for our users. You are always welcome to share with us your feedback.
2denggood: How close to stock are you guys gonna keep the OxygenOS with the new staff?(hopefully it’s stays close) How soon can we expect Android N?
Brian: We will stay close to stock Android experience. But we will have more useful features than stock.
DaveT1482: If you are combining Hydrogen and Oxygen OS, will it be called H2OS and will there be themes to choose between the different styles?
Brian: No. Oxygen will keep its name and experience. We are not merging Hydrogen and Oxygen experience.
cyborg_2007: What is the hardest part about developing a custom OS from AOSP? What is the OnePlus design philosophy when it comes to software?
Brian: The hardest part is not about developing the custom OS, it’s improving whole experience.
This is a long story, but to make it short: We don’t aim to completely WOW you. But after you experience Oxygen OS, we want you to think “Yeah, this is actually better than stock Android.”
Omega: 1.The hardest part is how to build a stable and good performance platform, which we believe are fundamental and extremely important for our users. 2. Light, fast, stable, and closer to user need. That’s why we keep rolling out community builds.
And thank you for your support.
_transience: How do you plan on merging the Hydrogen and Oxygen? How will you satisfy “both worlds”?
Carl: Since the beginning, OxygenOS and HydrogenOS have had common code on framework and kernel levels, with the “merge”, we’re having them share more and more code on the Android and app levels too.
A good product is a good product no matter what part of the world you’re in, we don’t see it as two worlds. Some might have taken the community betas as an indication of future direction, whereas we’ve meant for it to be somewhere we can experiment and quickly react to user feedback. In fact, there’s a new version coming in the next few days with many said changes.
As for updates, if there’s any company feeling the pressure of needing to update fast, it’s OnePlus. We have the most vocal and tech savvy user base, so this point is not lost on us. I believe that now, with our new software team structure, we’ll be able to move a lot faster than before.
battler624: Are you ever moving back to CM (probably with OP4?) or are you going to stick with Oxygen/Hydrogen and what is going to happen to these 2? will they merge completely?
Carl: So many things go on under the hood of OxygenOS. People seem to like it, but have difficulties pinpointing exactly what. It’s important to control both the hardware and the software to deliver really good experiences, so we’re not looking to outsource software in the future.
An example is the auto brightness. We used to ship with an off the shelf implementation that felt bad and we had a lot of feedback on this too. So we took some of the devices with the best auto brightness implementations and started measuring how they performed in different scenarios. Turned out it was very different than just a simple trigger. The end result that we shipped with the previous OTA fades dark very slowly and goes bright very quickly. This is only one of many things we modified to deliver a better auto brightness implementation. User feedback was very positive. We’ve got countless stories like this.
Fullerphoto: Anything exciting you can share about future builds?
Omega: Yeah so we have improved the power consumption. And we are also looking into the scrolling screenshot feature. Do you think it will be pretty cool?
Android Nougat and Updates
MehediHassan: When do you guys plan on releasing it for the OP3?
Brian: We cannot share a timeline right now, but we are already actively working on it.
I want to clarify. The reason why we are unifying our teams, it’s because we want to provide faster updates to our users. Some users have already seen our improvements through beta programs and OP3 OTAs. It’s coming faster than before. This will carry over to the N update.
_kushagra: By the beta program you mean the community build right?
Brian: Yes. We have closed beta group and internal testing group as well. And everyone can join the open beta build(community build).
zingertek: When can we expect the changes in the 3.5 community build for the OP3 to be released as a regular OTA update?
Aaron: When it’s ready, we are moving rapidly in the direction of stable.
xdarkpandax: You guys plan to update the software on the OP2 further?
Aaron: Nuget for OP2 is coming, had a meeting about it today.
vvarma1: Can you confirm whether Oneplus received early access to the android N source code before it was made available to everyone through aosp?
Aaron: I can confirm that nougat is chewy.
joddlaren: How do you plan to get on track with updates in the future?
Carl: Definitely, we’ve made software for less than two years and it’s been a steep learning curve. To earn back trust we’re adopting a show, don’t tell strategy.
The_Otaku_Guy: Will the OnePlus 2 get the OnePlus gallery and oneplus music apps?
Aaron: Yup as part of Oxygen 3.5 🙂
catalinthejoker10: Do you have any eta on that ? or even a guess?
Aaron: You can try it today in the community build today. The community builds will be OTA’ed when we deem them stable.
EchoCorp: Is there a way to block calls from certain numbers right now? If not, are there any plans on implementing that feature?
Aaron: It will be part of Oxygen 3.5+
vinicius97g: Are you planning on releasing the tools necessary for Custom ROM devs to port features like Pocket Mode?
Aaron: https://github.com/orgs/OnePlusOSS and https://source.android.com/ are all any rom developer should need be able to implment pocket mode there isnt much to it.
The_Otaku_Guy: Any plan on providing Community Build updates to the OnePlus 2?
Aaron: We run community builds as needed. I’m sure a certain dessert in the future will come as a community build first.
Epix_XD: When you release Nougat for oneplus 3, will you give additional features alongside the nougat features?
Aaron: Of course, we are shipping Oxygen not pure android. Oxygen has always been Android+ and will continue to be.
Nik3309: Why can’t you people provide proper updates at proper time like others phone companies?
Brian: That is what we have been trying to improve for last months. Unified platform, system and framework to speed up the update speed.
OnePlus 3 Bugs and Current Issues
onebus: Is there going to be a fix for the GPS issues on the OP3? Am on 3.2.6, it’s most stable for me when I switch to 2G. When on 3G/LTE…the blue dot on Google Maps is just constantly moving all over the place.
Aaron: First thing on me todo list for tomorrow.
Mossy375: I’m not really sold on the 6gb of ram at the moment, as I often get app ‘restarts’ when selecting an app I opened 8 or 9 apps back. Are there any plans to make more use of the 6gb?
Omega: We have fully utilized 6GB. In terms of restarting problem, we need to identify the root cause – could be because the apps you are using consume too much memories in the background. Would be helpful if you can provide some of your most frequently used apps.
robotkoer: Why is Europe OP3 shipping time 5 weeks? I thought you got it under control by delaying a month?
Carl: We thought we would get it under control by stopping sales for a month. Just imagine the shipping time now if we didn’t halt sales…
Although not the worst problem to have for OnePlus, we understand what unpleasant experience this could be for our potential customers.
OnePlus 3 Promises (Camera HAL)
gigatex: Carl Pei tweeted an improvement to the camera experience on custom roms was being looked in to. Any news about that yet?
Carl: Camera team is still looking into how to do this the best way, and weighing the consequences in user experience.
yooouuri: When do you release the camera/hal sources?
Carl: Full unprotected source code? Never.
Something that community ROMs can use? We’re discussing how to get it done.
OnePlus X and a Successor
chimnado: Will you ever release another 5″ phone?
Carl: Not looking that way. It’s too hard to fit a big enough battery into a 5″ device.
harold_admin: What does the future of OnePlus X software updates look like? Can we at least expect monthly security patches? Or even update till Oxygen OS 3.5 since that is based on Marshmallow?
Carl: The Android M OTA is coming next week!
[Author Note: The Marshmallow update is now live for the OnePlus X]
CameraRick: How good it might be for the battery to be loaded that fast with Dash Charging – I imagine the degradation is a lot faster than with ‘normal’ charging speeds. Any comment on life expectancy?
Carl: We love Dash Charge too. This is a technology that has been thoroughly tested in large quantities in real life scenarios, and we don’t foresee any problems. In fact, some may argue that it’s even safer due to the 5 levels of security checks in addition to not having to charge overnight.
crispaper: Do you have a power bank with Dash charge support in the works?
Carl: We were discussing this for the longest time, and we did a survey on our forums with a really positive response. However, we decided to shelve the idea as Dash Charge allows you to spend less time charging and we felt like carrying a power bank would be a bit counterintuitive to that.
aixnj: Laptop with dash charging?
Aaron: Dash charge all the things
Bradon: Less time in the socket, more time in the pocket.™
Screen Protectors, Accessories and Ecosystem
CameraRick: There were some cropping issues with the official curved tempered glas as you will know. Is this adressed by now? And when will they finally be in stock again?
Carl: In regards to tempered glass screen protectors, the cropping issues you mention are necessitated by the curved design on the front of the phone. Any other configuration would have left air bubbles, or poor durability that couldn’t pass our quality standards.
cdonald17: Why isn’t it possible to make the side bezels of the curved tempered glass thinner so no copping occurs? Or, why isn’t it possible to create a curved tempered glass screen protector that is entirely clear glass (i.e., no black and white versions)?
Carl: Don’t understand your first question. Second question is because it’s very hard to guarantee that the user applies it 100% correctly. It’s very likely for air bubbles to occur especially on the sides. Believe me when we’ve done a ton of experiments with every type of variation.
chronus_ess: I won’t call screen cropping, and thereby reducing usable surface area of the phone screen as having passed any decent quality control, but I’m just a user, not a QA personnel.
Carl: Agree, thinking of killing the product line entirely. There’s no perfect implementation on a curved surface with the technology we have available today.
TimonF: 1) In the EU Store why the cables for OP1 and OP2 nad their tempered glasses are not available to buy for at least 3 months now. 2) Why don’t you make available for the Shop the googles for VR experience or the bags and other cool stuff you have?
Carl: 1) Because those products are getting old and we don’t want to sit on inventory that we won’t be able to sell
2) Loop VR was never a permanent product, and the backpacks are coming Soon™
highdiver_2000: How is the OnePlus ecosystem coming along?
Carl: One step at a time. Over the past three years, we’ve shown that we can make good products and that we’re here to stay. Hopefully the trust we’ve established will help us reach our next step easier, namely scale which (despite what some believe) always comes before building an ecosystem.
Forums and Feedback Reception
aashish_amber: How often do you guys look at the comments made by users on one plus forum about different bugs they face , do you have someone to note down those feedbacks and problems?
Carl: We have a whole team dedicated to this, and quality is something we take very seriously.
We don’t only look at feedback on our forums, but also customer support, Reddit, other social media, email, etc. Every week, we have quality meetings where we go through the progress & priority of pending issues. If the issues are large enough, we’ll block software (and hardware) from shipping before they’re resolved.
Sometimes, it’s hard to reproduce the issues unless you’re in the same network conditions, so we actually have a globally scattered test team with people in all continents we cover. Once, we sent a test engineer to the home of one of our Swedish users to fully reproduce his issues.
Bradon: A lot of OnePlusers from several departments (marketing/product/customer service/platform/etc) spend a lot of time on our forums – myself included. Sometimes this is for feedback and bug report collection, and sometimes we’re just hanging out. Since the beginning, we’ve always tried to break down that barrier between OnePlus and OnePlus users. The way we see it, we’re tech enthusiasts, and we make the products that we ourselves want to use. You guys contribute tons of feedback and help to guide our brand and products. So, we’re all part of the same community. This AMA is a small part of that overall mindset.
To answer your question more directly, though, yes. We collect a ton of feedback and bug reports, as Carl already explained pretty thoroughly. We also have something bigger in the works to make bug reporting even better.
Mindstarx: Are there any plans to improve your customer service?
Carl: Looking at our metrics, CS has been improving steadily over the past 3 years, but of course nowhere near where we want to have it and there will always be cases that fall through the cracks.
Carrier Exclusivity and Issues
K-NineHD: Will the O2 UK phone still have 2 Sims? Will the device be locked to O2? Will there be any O2 bloat installed? Will you let any carriers install bloat to the phone? Do you have any plans for expansion into more countrys?
Carl: Yes, No, No, No, Always looking to expand in the right way [Author note: Responses in order]
Fettecheney: What is it like for you guys to try and work on compatibility with the different networks? (Verizon, T-mobile, etc) What makes it so difficult to get the phones to work with Sprint and Verizon’s 4G networks?
Carl: Each carrier is different. Some have no proprietary requirements while some have lots and even have you pay them to help make sure that your device adhere to their requirements. Usually, the larger the carrier the more requirements.
The OnePlus Team did a good job at answering questions in the AMA, and it provided the perfect opportunity to glean more new information regarding existing products and future plans.