Meet OneLab, the team pushing the experimental envelope inside OnePlus

  1. Cheetosdust
    Starting Point Expert Community Expert Apr 26, 2021

    Cheetosdust , Apr 26, 2021 :
    As time goes by, tech companies are filters placed two beats and bits ahead of the present day. The things we are experiencing now were developed as a shot in the dark, talent pouring talent into a void months in advance, wishing for a growing silhouette of interest. OneLab is not OnePlus’ magic trick, but the company asking their fans if they want to see - and touch - something effervescent.

    Not all tech is cut from the same cloth, so let’s get to know this cloth a little better. Forged in experimentation, the OneLab team is composed of 9 members. Today I am joined by: Crayon H, Team Lead, @Sam T., Senior Product Manager, Tim W, Creative Technologist, Jay Q, UX Designer, and Sharon W, UX Researcher. We can say it’s a branch on its infancy, giving the first steps before walking what’s expected to be a OnePlus pushing OnePlus’ journey.

    We talk about the origins of the program, its place inside the company, and how it was designed to be flexible in its shapeless form. Meet some of the minds who want to innovate without shoving their attempts down the customers wallets. OneLab’s strength is not to solve the problems you may have, but to widen the field where solutions may appear.

    In your own words, what is OneLab?

    CH: OneLab is a startup within the larger OnePlus business. Its original goal was to help better connect to our users away from our HQ in Europe, India, and North America, designing features that suit these markets and enhance our OS. However, the goals have broadened for the team as throughout our research there have been numerous ideas, integrations, and collaborations which we believe deserve to be worked on.

    Currently, we’re totally remote and collaborate over Zoom and all of the tools we use but once the world is ready we’ll be trying to work in person more often


    And what does it want to be?

    ST: Our goal is to become a consultancy-style team for which divisions from around the business can come to in order to solve hard problems or create innovative solutions. At this point we’ve started on features in the OS and made our way into external applications. I see this as the turning point for OneLab which will mean teams within the company will recognize our work and then reach out to collaborate.

    Currently, we’re really focused on apps that just solve user problems. It’s very motivating to solve some problems and improve the experience on a device for a user so that's what we try to do! We have an app to share with the community in the next few days which we’ve been working on. We think it solves a real user problem which we identified through testing in the community and we want to give back to the community by launching it there first and getting direct feedback.

    The word “innovation” is thrown around as a marketing-infused wildcard. Why is OneLab more than just a shallow buzzword?

    CH: I believe we are truly trying things that no other teams in OnePlus do, or even can due to the creative freedom we have. We don’t need to obey the same rules and the core development teams as we’re slight outsiders. I think this will give us the space to be creative and hopefully, innovation - when required - comes with that.

    sitting computer.jpg

    Can you give the Community some examples of the work developed so far? Is there a released piece of software where the readers can experience your efforts?

    ST: Our work has been visible in the OS since the last major update (OxygenOS 11). We worked on the Insight AOD [Always On Display] in collaboration with the Parsons School of Design, the AR/MR RE:WILD app and the latest version of Zen Mode. Also we have a number of exciting features to be released soon such as the Bitmoji AOD.

    JQ: We’ve also got quite a few more great features in the works right now but we can’t reveal just yet. Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to share everything as it takes time to refine and rollout!
    We hope you can understand.

    1Lab design.png

    Will the members have the opportunity to try your applications soon? If so, what’s the current plan?

    ST: Absolutely, this is something we’re super excited about. We are soon to be launching some of our own apps which we will reveal in a short time.

    SW: During our research, we came across quite a few pain points which we felt were not only apparent in our OnePlus devices but all devices. We could work with the team to implement into Oxygen but due to our small agile team we’re able to develop and release a lot faster so it’s a great opportunity to release external applications and solve those problems for a wider audience.

    And for the readers who still use older OnePlus devices, are their devices going to be included in the apps developed?

    TW: The applications we are developing will be available across Android devices running 6.0 or higher. We tested on an old OnePlus 2 device which we had lying around and it worked perfectly (apart from the smashed screen 😏) but we couldn’t find a OnePlus One. It should work if it has anywhere near recent updates.

    There will also be iOS and Chrome applications for what we are developing as well.

    Then, are we, the interested members, going to be part of a cycle of iteration with the team?

    SW: We’ve actually been testing with quite a few members of the community so far. All under NDA of course! Soon our apps will be more public and we can reach a wider audience and see how they’re received.

    Even if not immediately, is the team planning to include ideas suggested by the Community?

    ST: Actually quite a few of our ideas have come from the community so far. Rather than things directly suggested our team looks at how people interact and use their devices. Often we’ll just ask for their problems and complaints and from that information, we can design solutions to best address them. It’s what the team is best at.

    TW: There are lots of teams in the software division which listen to the community through a wide range of methods but for us, we want to solve problems that are not immediately obvious but could have a bigger benefit.

    Tracing an ethereal line through the backstage, what’s your connection with the OxygenOS teams, if any?

    CH: We all started in the OS team and remain under that division to this day. Our ultimate goal is to create a better OS for the global users as we do work hard to deliver on this. However, as the division works in cycles with the latest OS builds there are times when our team can be very effective such as the research and design phase. However, during implementation and development, we have some creative freedom to work on some of our own ideas. It’s a great balance and we’re really lucky to work with and rely on some of our best designers and engineers in the wider division.

    It seems the applications you’re developing are volatile. What’s the motivation for working on something that can be scrapped before being released?

    ST: This is often the nature of the beast with early-stage development, you may try 10 and only 1 be successful. Luckily for the community, we do manage to filter out lots of those terrible ideas before we launch! We try to take the "fail fast" mentality. Push an idea hard at the beginning and if it fails then don’t be afraid of letting go, don’t be caught out by the sunk cost fallacy.

    One year from now, looking back at the team’s trajectory, how would you like to be seen by the Community?

    ST: Good question, we don’t often get much time to stop and think about the future. As the team is still in its infancy we’re still trying things out and seeing what works for us and what doesn’t. 2021 feels like the year we establish ourselves more as a team. I’d love to speak to the community in a year's time and hear some positive comments about a suite of successful apps that we have released and see how it has been accepted by the fans.

    JQ: Also seeing our features in the OS have some more recognition as they roll out. We can’t wait to share some of our ideas which have actually been in development since we started the team back in late 2019!

    The OnePlus memories of yesteryear are still aplenty. What do you have to say to the readers who may think this is the resurrection of that mental fabric?

    CH: I think building features which the community love has always been at the forefront of our goals ever since I joined OnePlus many years ago. As the company has grown this has become more important and I think what OneLab is creating is just another opportunity for the passion of the community to come out in apps and services not only in the OS.

    To me, it feels that the ultra-flagship-premium devices are the mature side of the company, while OneLab is a teenage, experimental - almost rebellious - face. Is that a correct assumption?

    CH: I wouldn’t say rebellious, but we are certainly trying to explore some new directions. We’ll fully support the OS division and feed into their work in a number of ways, however, it’s great to have our own space to develop apps which solve problems for a wider audience.

    ST: We can also think of ourselves as an upstream testing facility for OnePlus. If we develop something which is a success then we can roll it out in later versions of OOS with a deeper system-level integration. If something isn’t well-received then there is no impact to the millions of OnePlus users.

    I want to know more about OneLab. When and where are the news going to be published?

    We have our social channels and website which can be found at onelab.studio. We’ll try to keep active on the forums and we’re always holding focus groups across with members of the community to inspire, test, and challenge us.

    We have an exciting announcement of our new app over the next few days so we are very excited to share that!

    Here’s OneLab a few answers closer to the limelight. Committing themselves to the experimental side of tech, here’s a team with room to breathe and attempt and fail and adjust. The pressure giving way to the what if, the burden standing on the shoulders of others. This is not the old OnePlus nor a new OnePlus: this is the needed oxygen not to think outside the box, but to defy what a box can be.

    standing blackboard.jpg

  2. Adam Krisko
    NA Community Consultant Staff Member Apr 26, 2021

    Stickied Post
    Adam Krisko , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Hey all,

    Please understand, this group of people are here to help create the future of the OnePlus’ software, apps, and other digital coolness. These folks ARE NOT part of the normal dev team and they will not have any info on the normal update schedule for phones. Please be respectful, and don’t spam questions about when is XXXX update coming for ZZZZ phone.

    Thanks, Adam.

  3. Yash Pratap Singh.
    KitKat May 11, 2021

    Stickied Post
    Yash Pratap Singh. , May 11, 2021 :
    As promised @Cheetosdust, here is the full interview of @Sam T. with Digit - which is the most widely read tech magazine in India. :)

    The magazine issue is from December 2020. And the topic of the interview is 'The Oxygen OS Experience'. :cool:

    In 2nd Page, first column, last question about Pre installed apps, has the answer to the question asked by a lot of users on the forum - why is Netflix and Facebook pre installed. Interested guys can read the answer below. ;)

    Page 1

    Page 2

  4. SJBoss
    Lollipop Apr 26, 2021

  5. SRD.
    Lollipop Apr 26, 2021

  6. SJBoss
    Lollipop Apr 26, 2021

    SJBoss , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Can we censor this word? It triggers me for some reasons :rolleyes:
    ...... Update when?

  7. Adam Krisko
    NA Community Consultant Staff Member Apr 26, 2021

    Adam Krisko , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Please don't belittle these folks' hard work. They are proud of what they are creating. People asked about this team when their name first popped up on the forums, and we helped make this interview possible. Does that qualify as an ad?

  8. Adam Krisko
    NA Community Consultant Staff Member Apr 26, 2021

  9. Sam T.
    Senior Product Manager Staff Member Apr 26, 2021

    Sam T. , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Cheers Adam, I think we've caused a bit of confusion in the past with people asking about our team and what we do, so we wanted to introduce ourselves and answer any questions people might have. We spend quite a lot of time interviewing and researching through the community so it's good to have a post to refer to in the future when people ask. Thanks!

  10. feei10254
    Gingerbread Apr 26, 2021

    feei10254 , via OnePlus 7T , Apr 26, 2021 :
    I hope this team can bring some surprises to users in Asia, not just Europe and the Americas, especially now that Southeast Asia is a new market for OnePlus

  11. McJader
    Marshmallow Apr 26, 2021

    McJader , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Having done some contributions with regards to OneLab recently, excited to see what innovations it brings👍

  12. meatandy
    Oreo Apr 26, 2021

    meatandy , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Soooo , When can I get my hands on this so called "ZZZZ" phone ....Adam ? j8kVjQx__01.png :D

  13. B_Wrath
    Nougat Apr 26, 2021

  14. Sam T.
    Senior Product Manager Staff Member Apr 26, 2021

    Sam T. , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Our team is in Taiwan x 2, India x 2, London x 1 and NYC x 4 so we have quite a good spread of people. I think that we can hopefully solve a few problems for everyone! It will be interesting to see the growth of the brand in SEA, I hope it goes well.

  15. meatandy
    Oreo Apr 26, 2021

    meatandy , Apr 26, 2021 :
    That's all but dead for the time being.:oops:

  16. Tejas.11_
    Gingerbread Apr 26, 2021

    Adesh.sanmukh likes this.
  17. feei10254
    Gingerbread Apr 26, 2021

    feei10254 , via OnePlus 7T , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Wow! You have members from Taiwan, so special. I am Malaysian but live in Taiwan, unfortunately OnePlus did not enter the Taiwan market

  18. SJBoss
    Lollipop Apr 26, 2021

    SJBoss , Apr 26, 2021 :
    I was akchually belittling @Cheetosdust 's work 😅 😂

  19. Sam T.
    Senior Product Manager Staff Member Apr 26, 2021

    Sam T. , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Thanks for the help! I guess Sharon would have conducted the research. We've been developing an app to help increase your digital efficiency across a range of devices which we'll release soon. Still in development but a few bugs to sort out this week... We actually got the idea after watching a community member send some data from their phone to a laptop.

  20. Yash Pratap Singh.
    KitKat Apr 26, 2021

  21. McJader
    Marshmallow Apr 26, 2021

    McJader , Apr 26, 2021 :
    Yup, Sharon was a dear is dealing with us imbeciles :p
    Great, y'all seem really into your work, and if it can bring more convenience to my device usage, nothing like it.
    It could also be something I never knew I needed until I used it;)