OnePlus is working on OxygenOS 13, not Unified OS… maybe?
OnePlus has had an interesting history, starting from the early flash sales days of the OnePlus One, going down to the more conventional online launch of their recent flagship, the OnePlus 10 Pro. The OnePlus 10 Pro is the only device in the OnePlus 10 series so far, and it remains restricted only to China for the moment. Consequently, it runs on ColorOS as we noted in our OnePlus 10 Pro hands-on, but we expected the global version of the device to come with OPPO-OnePlus’s new “Unified OS” that was announced back in September 2021 for launch on a “2022 Flagship”. But apparently, OnePlus is now working on OxygenOS 13, and we’re as confused as you are about what is happening.
OnePlus has posted an announcement in its forums, inviting applications to an Open Ears Forum discussion around “OxygenOS 13”. The announcement does not go into more details about what OxygenOS 13 would be, but it makes it apparent that the company is not ready to shed the “OxygenOS” branding. This is the surprising bit, as OnePlus’s OxygenOS has already been merged with the codebase of OPPO’s ColorOS, and the path forward was to be in the form of the yet-unnamed “unified OS”.
To recap, the OnePlus Nord 2 was the first device to launch with OxygenOS that was rebased onto ColorOS. On this device, it was quite apparent that the OxygenOS 11.3 release was more of a skin on top of ColorOS as opposed to the OxygenOS that was present on previously released devices like the OnePlus 9 series, and that wasn’t a bad thing per se as we noted in our OnePlus Nord 2 review. When the flagship OnePlus 9 series was updated to Android 12 with OxygenOS 12, the phone also received the same ColorOS code rebasing treatment, but the initial release was riddled with bugs that prompted the builds to be rolled back and then rolled out again with fixes in place.
According to the original plan from OnePlus, the OOS-COS unified OS was supposed to go beyond the codebase integration. It was to combine the “fast and burdenless experience of OxygenOS with the stability and rich features of ColorOS”. As we already mentioned in the beginning, the next OnePlus flagship launching in 2022 was to be the debut vehicle for this unified OS, and the update would roll out to devices as far back as the OnePlus 8 series eventually. However, with talks of OxygenOS 13 now on the cards, we aren’t sure what is happening anymore. OnePlus did have an impressive year in regions like the US, so there’s good incentive to keep the OOS branding around.
On the flip side of that, it’s entirely possible that OnePlus is using “OxygenOS 13” as a catch-all phrase for the next generation of OxygenOS. It doesn’t really matter what operating system is being talked about at the Open Ears Forum so long as the company gathers opinions from users, as nearly all feedback on Android operating systems can be universal and applied anywhere.
Nevertheless, one can’t completely write off the implication that OPPO-OnePlus have indeed shelved plans of their unified OS. Alternatively, it could be the case that the update is still in the works but just needs some more time for smoothing out bugs. The codebase integration has happened for OxygenOS already, so several OnePlus devices globally are technically running on ColorOS anyway, irrespective of whatever branding OnePlus goes with. The unified OS was an exciting step forward as new software releases usually are, and we were/are looking forward to experiencing it on a flagship device. We hope to learn more soon.