Living up to Never Settle: Our Software Story

  1. Brian Yoon
    Head of User Experience Design Nov 10, 2017

    Brian Yoon , Nov 10, 2017 :

    Never Settle. These are the words we started with, in our dream to make better smartphones. Like many startups, we entered the world a little starry-eyed. We knew there would be challenges in the market and that we'd spend many nights in the office perfecting our software. But we believed our idea was worth it.

    We learned with time and experience that chasing the dream takes more than belief and hard work. To be up front with you – we haven't made it to the top yet. We're sharing all we've learned so far, but we've still got a ways to go in our journey.

    Every Company Begins for a Reason

    With OnePlus, we started with a singular vision – create better smartphones. Too many phones on the market were sloppy on the details, or filled with bloatware. We wanted to make a no-frills product that empowered our users to effortlessly do what they want, when they wanted to. Achieving clean and fast software would require us to master the details. A tall order, but not impossible since we had experienced engineering talent (our CEO @Pete ) leading our ranks.

    It was an exciting time, with Cyanogen as one of our key partners for the development of OnePlus One software. Highly respected in the developer community, CyanogenMod was hailed as the people's OS and poised to change the face of the mobile industry. OnePlus One software was ahead of its time, with features that even stock Android had yet to official introduce. To the shock of our tiny marketing team, word of mouth about the OnePlus One took off at an insane pace. We were the only smartphone maker trumpeting a Never Settle attitude toward technology, and techies were eager to support our cause. The flow of feedback was fast and intimate, due to the size of our community, and we were buzzing with energy to listen and improve. We took it all in, and were confident that with time, we could address all the feedback we were getting.

    Then, as we were working on the OnePlus 2, we had to become more independent. The transition wasn't easy, with long arduous nights and flare-ups of frustration. It felt like a race against time to produce a second flagship that would keep our fans happy, before we were left in the dust of irrelevance. Never Settle continued to be our mantra as we worked top coders from the developer community to create a simple version of the Android experience. We felt rushed, but knew that our whole team had pushed themselves to the max, laboring over each detail. We were confident that the OnePlus 2 would be the world's next flagship killer.

    And were smacked in the face for our hubris. Feedback for the OnePlus 2 was far more mixed than we would have liked. Our techie niche had expected the best from us because of the talk that we had talked, and not everyone was happy with the walk we walked. Somehow, we had listened without hearing.

    Creating Better Smartphones

    After some months, we came to a few realizations. We needed to slow down and regain perspective. Details were king, but not only in the way that we thought. To create a better smartphone, we needed to look deeper and improve the details of how we worked. Keeping our fans happy was important, but if we truly wanted to Never Settle, we couldn't let outside pressures drive the pace of our work.

    During the development of the OnePlus 2, we had seen the need to grow in order to meet fan demand. And we hired the passionate and the talented, without paying enough attention to how our organizational needs were changing. The result was a software team that was bigger, but also more fragmented and inefficient. We needed to reorganize and unify to recapture the spirit of our OnePlus One days. Around this time, I joined OnePlus as the Head of ROM. This was shortly after the release of the OnePlus 2, and I had worked tirelessly to address the internal divisions that had sprung up. It was crazy. For more than three months, my everyday work was meetings to refine requirements and sitting in the middle of the room, mediating between different groups.

    Reorganizing was at times tedious and painful, but the newly unified software team worked faster and more efficiently than ever. Everyone slowed down, and took more time for testing and tweaking. Thinking as one, the software team went from a feature-driven development cycle to a bug-driven one, outputting new builds more frequently. Thanks to these improvements, the software of our third flagship was unlike any we had ever produced. OxygenOS on the OnePlus 3 was truly streamlined, clean, and beautiful.

    Critics and fans alike loved the tweaks we had made to OxygenOS, but we had learned from the OnePlus 2 not to get complacent. With a unified team behind the OnePlus 3, we launched the Beta program, working directly with testers from our fan community to ensure stable software. Having our ears to the ground, while keeping our frontal lobe on, turned out to be a winning strategy. And we made sure to bring this mindset to the OnePlus 5 and 5T.

    In some ways, we are doing what we've always done: listening and implementing changes. But slowing down and working at our own pace with a unified mindset, gives us time to address user demands with wisdom. Listening feedback is important, but it's just as important to ask the right questions when you process that information.

    As Pete once put it to Wired Editor David Rowan: we "make products based on asking 'why?' -- why does it exist? Why doesn't it change?"

    Our latest flagship, the OnePlus 5T, answers the whys.
    • Why one global version? To address bugs even faster, regardless of regional differences.
    • Why have we made some apps independent of our software code base? To create better apps even faster.
    • Why so much emphasis on our Beta program? Because our community is powerful.
    The OnePlus 5T is our best flagship yet. Software has never been more stable. The consensus among critics and techie users alike is that OxygenOS is a very good OEM ROM, fast and streamlined with no bloatware. And yet our best is always changing. Because our goal isn't just to be stuck at 'our best.' It's to create a phone that's better than everything that exists. To Never Settle.

    Living Up to Never Settle

    As humans, it's natural to want to study success, and learn fail-safe formulas. But unlike calculus class, plugging in the right elements doesn't always deliver the results you want. Mastering the details is not a formula to success, but rather a key part of getting there. Between the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2, we learned that listening and working hard is only part of the process. Every detail can be perfected and stunning to look at, and your user experience can still miss the mark. Our success with the OnePlus 3 helped us bring the lesson home for the OnePlus 5T: learn from what you hear and take time to truly consider what is best for your endeavor as a whole.

    We share our story, to encourage others who also have ideas like we once did. Keep improving on what users love, and be brave in the details where you need to be. Listen, grow, and improve. Do all of that good stuff. But when there are many voices around you, it’s important to remember what you came to do.

    Bringing an idea to life requires resilience. Because every startup begins with someone who truly believes in their dream. But not everyone is willing to take hits, learn and take risks continuously so that their idea survives. Those that do, will make an impact in this world.

    Many thanks to all of you.

  2. Brian Yoon
    Head of User Experience Design Nov 11, 2017

    Stickied Post
    Brian Yoon , Nov 11, 2017 :

    I know that we aren’t even close to “perfect” yet. But because of that we’re trying our best every day and night. And do want to be transparent to everyone as possible. Just one thing I can clearly tell you is we learned many things from last few years. And we’re trying not making same mistakes.

    Accepting ‘not perfect’ is not easy but when we fully accept that, we can be more patient and appriciate to people who are helping us. Even that hurts us, we have to take a step one by one. What I did for OxygenOS for last two years was the grounding. That’s what we were supposed to do firstly when I joined ROM team. Yes we missed many things because we rushed without well-grounded environment.

    I believe we(OnePlus+you guys) can build new layers on that ground together. And that’s not going to be broken easily.

    Thank you for your support and criticizing, both. I’ll try my best to provide you the better experience.

    Hope seeing more of you in next events.

    GopalB., rwmchan, arcnikhil and 9 others like this.
  3. Brian Yoon
    Head of User Experience Design Nov 11, 2017

    Stickied Post
    Brian Yoon , Nov 11, 2017 :
    Same here. I’m curious to see how people like you giving us valuable insight and building layers together.

    Personal message;
    BTW. I wasn’t actively writing threads or replies but was watching you. I like D-bag members because you guys make me keep opening my eyes and keep us not loosing the tension. That’s little hurt tho. ;-)

    Thanks, @dsmonteiro.

    GopalB., SoniaB, otto2 and 5 others like this.
  4. Horsault
    Moderator Moderator Nov 10, 2017

    Andi Koch, YaoMax, kapilathi and 18 others like this.
  5. youbi
    Assistant Head Moderator Assistant Head Moderator Nov 10, 2017

    youbi , Nov 10, 2017 :
    Thanks for the honest and passionate feedback. :)

    And the truth is that many different things can be said about Oxygen OS, but I'm sure that everyone will agree that it has come a long way since the early days in the op2. :sweatsmile:

    Glad you learned from your mistakes and didn't settled for less. The fact that each day you see more and more flashaholics loyal to Oxygen OS must mean that you are doing the right things. :p

    I hope to see you here more often. ;)

  6. luxuskamel
    Marshmallow Nov 10, 2017

    luxuskamel , Nov 10, 2017 :
    As community we should say big thanks for all your effort! Its great what you already did. Looking forward for what is to come :)

  7. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Nov 10, 2017

    dsmonteiro , Nov 10, 2017 :
    @Brian Yoon
    Some questions that may or may not be easy to answer:
    • Are you guys implementing Project Treble on the Oneplus 5T? If so, will you be able to extend it to the OnePlus 5?
    • Will the two devices be maintained as if they were the same like it happened with OP3/3T?
    • Will you commit to a support window like Google does?
    EDIT: Adding a few additional questions for the Q&A that may come after the OP5T release:
    • Are you really implementing EAS on the OnePlus 5 / 5T like it was rumored a few months back?
    • Will you bring Daylight Display to the OnePlus 5 as well?
    • Will the OP3 and OP3T get Android 8.1?
    • Will the new software features present on the OnePlus 5T (like Face Unlock and 4k EIS) come to previous models?
    • Are you going to implement fingerprint sensor gestures (swipe down for quick settings, swipe up for app drawer) on the OnePlus 5T. I'm pretty sure the FPS supports it.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017

  8. Punk_69
    Lollipop Nov 10, 2017

  9. Punk_69
    Lollipop Nov 10, 2017

    Punk_69 , Nov 10, 2017 :
    correct questions asked ....
    Well I kinda know about Project Treble, but yea it'd be great if op3/t also get included in it....

  10. beastkay
    Ice Cream Sandwich Nov 10, 2017

    beastkay , Nov 10, 2017 :
    "Every company Begins for a Reason" Loved this line
    We are just waiting what is to come and fingers are crossed and hopes are high very high because we are thinking for the company which is ONEPLUS :cool:

  11. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Nov 10, 2017

    dsmonteiro , Nov 10, 2017 :
    There's no relevant reason to implement it for the OP3/3T, considering they said Android 8 is the last major update to come to the phone. Treble only matters if the phones are to be updated.

    arcnikhil, rarog, Dunnow and 7 others like this.
  12. Charmacas
    Gingerbread Nov 10, 2017

  13. Mr. BG
    Community Hero 2020 Nov 10, 2017

    Mr. BG , Nov 10, 2017 :
    Thanks for the honesty about the bumpy ride Bryan.

    With all that self reflection you'd almost forget who paid the price for this learning process.


    I can remember how things went wrong with Cyanogen in 2014, because I was there.

    And for the bumpy start in 2015 for Oxygen, for I was there.

    I loved my Oneplus One, as it delivered on its promise. It was good, although it wasn't perfect, but we didn't expect it to be perfect, so all was well.

    Communication was still fairly open, so we were patient.

    Then the Oneplus 2 came, and it wasn't better than the One, and Oxygen was far from complete. Then the small sister of the OPO came, and that looked perfect, and Oneplus told us it was perfect, with an immaculate camera.

    But it wasn't.

    Great hardware really, but Oxygen needed work. M was already out for a while, it wasn't on the device. But we trusted you guys, so we were patient and waited.

    And waited.

    Waited some more, and finally M came, after almost a year, Day One Bugs (camera!) still not fixed, even after extensive beta works behind the scenes. Then, it got really quiet, a whole year of nothing.

    Not evenalmost simple, much needed security update.

    You did not live up to your motto, not even close. It's just not good enough.

    Do better.

    Never Settle.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017

    Froyo Nov 10, 2017

  15. eye842
    Lollipop Nov 10, 2017

    eye842 , Nov 10, 2017 :
    I can't say that You lived up to Never Settle regarding the OP2, only more excuses and what about OPX it is like it never existed heck even some users don't know there is an X.

  16. script
    Moderator Moderator Nov 10, 2017

    pa5t1s, otto2 and SoniaB like this.
  17. varma246
    Lollipop Nov 10, 2017

    pojr, abidbunny, aris and 5 others like this.
  18. VaibhavBhargava
    Lollipop Nov 10, 2017

    VaibhavBhargava , Nov 10, 2017 :
    Strangely they have put up a different section for 5T unlike 3 and 3T. I don't why ?
    Hopefully, it is just because of their sizes.

    aris, Deactivated User and pa5t1s like this.
  19. luxuskamel
    Marshmallow Nov 10, 2017

    luxuskamel , Nov 10, 2017 :
    It definitely feels like OnePlus employees totally forgot about the OPO, OP2 and OPX :(
    I really hope they didn't drop the support because of economics. that would be really sad. We will probably never know

  20. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Nov 10, 2017

    dsmonteiro , Nov 10, 2017 :
    They did the same with the OP3 and OP3T initially and ended up merging it.

  21. VaibhavBhargava
    Lollipop Nov 10, 2017

    VaibhavBhargava , Nov 10, 2017 :
    Ohk, didn't knew that.

    dsmonteiro likes this.
  22. itssandeepd
    Honeycomb Nov 10, 2017

    itssandeepd , Nov 10, 2017 :
    As you are head of ux desing. I just want to give feedback on oos oreo open beta builds. The ui doesn't seems to be like stock. It still looks like nougat. Close to stock is best feature of oos.