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[Wake-up Call] Its.Leandroo: The disappointing state of OxygenOS (and apps)

  1. Its.Leandroo
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer Apr 2, 2021

    Its.Leandroo , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Hi all.

    I wanted to talk about the state of OxygenOS, as well as the apps developed by OnePlus themselves. After more than a year of giving advice and watching how things unfolded it's time to make my thoughts public, here on the forums.

    First, let me get a few things straight:
    1. I'm well aware this is a user forum.
    2. This thread is in no way meant as an insult or personal attack to any employee.
    3. If you're here to ask for updates, go somewhere else.
    4. You're welcome to share your thoughts in the comments.

    Alright, with that out of the way, we can dive in. This will be a long read, so grab some coffee if you wish to.

    Security Patches

    Let's start with the most important one. In today's world (and especially the past year) it has been increasingly common to see vulnerabilities to be exploited in the wild. Even though smartphones are often simply seen as a phone, Android (and iOS for that matter) is a very capable operating system in many ways used for the same tasks as a regular computer.

    For example, many of us have banking apps on their phones, as well as email accounts for work, conversations with family and friends, passwords (think password managers), and much more.

    It is very frustrating to see most phones being a month or more behind on security patches, even when the patches contain critical fixes, like privilege escalation vulnerabilities which may make it possible to get access to information mentioned above.

    I am well aware that development takes time, but I’m also aware that security patches can be implemented in a matter of days, at max. Currently, those patches are occasionally included in the bi-monthly updates, which make it impossible to get security patches each month, on time. Which is why I strongly recommend to provide monthly security patches for *all* devices, and let the development team include new features and fixes when they are actually ready and properly tested.

    Flawed Code & Rushed Testing

    Now, I lost count of how many issues there are across builds. I even lost count of the issues on my phones alone. Each time an issue is fixed (for as much as we can call it fixed), there’s 10 more appearing. For example, for months, swiping up on the gesture bar on the OnePlus 6, made the gesture bar go to the left, rather than up. And ever since the first OxygenOS 11 build for my OnePlus 8 Pro, the media player has been riddled with bugs, like misaligned text, saying the music is paused even though it is not, and even giving the completely wrong song!

    As a developer, I can only come up with one explanation: There is barely any testing after changes are made. When you’re making changes to the navigation (or media player), you should always test whether everything *works* and *looks* as intended. This is clearly not happening, because none of those issues are hard to catch: They are immediately visible.

    OxygenOS 11 (and 10) is quite literally full of issues like those. From navigation colors being incorrect, to status icons having the wrong size, to parts of the UI having a light theme when dark mode is enabled, to background sync not working (source), to the launcher simply not loading icons in the drawer, to SystemUI crashes (source).

    At this point I’m pretty much fed up with how often people tag me on social media with issues, and 9/10 issues are ones that would not have been there if the code was tested even a little bit, and if designs were implemented correctly.

    What’s the easiest fix to preventing this? Quite simply put: You only continue to the next item on your backlog/list once the thing you’re working on has been implemented, tested, corrected and tested again. Everyone makes mistakes, and not every issue will be caught before release, but the most obvious ones will (which currently are not).

    Then there’s the issue with third party apps not being able to record audio in the same quality as the Camera and Recorder apps. This is fixable from OnePlus’ side, but has been ignored for at least a year now, just like the ignorance towards launchers not being able to work well with gesture navigation, something Google has fixed a long time ago on Pixel devices.

    Questionable Design Choices

    Full disclosure: I do not like One Handed interfaces simply because I prefer productivity and information over using my phone with one hand (which I don’t want to).

    However, the implementation of a One Handed design in OxygenOS 11 is simply half-assed, to put it that way. The Settings overview follows that design principle, but if you go any deeper into settings, it’s completely gone and you still need awkward hand movements to touch the things at the top. This applies to just about every part of the OS, and every app OnePlus makes. The community and file manager apps don’t even have One Handed interfaces, despite it now being a full year since the iteration of OxygenOS 11.

    Then there’s the inconsistencies inside the apps that actually do use the “new” interface. The Settings app has the Search icon just above the content. The Weather app has the City and More icons at the very top, instead of above the content. Some apps use a bottom navigation bar, some apps use the lines at the top (which you can tap, but what’s the point when they are at the very top of the interface, that was intended for one hand usage).

    Furthermore, when there’s only one collection under “App collections” in Gallery, the section still takes up two rows. Why? Zooming in and out on the Photos page in Gallery doesn’t actually get me to the part I zoomed in on.

    Then there’s the Shelf. Why on earth is the only option on the 8 series and newer to have it open when you swipe down? I used to usse Shelf quite a bit, but on my 8 Pro it becomes practically only an annoyance. Why? Because you can no longer open the notification shade easily (especially not with one hand), and to close the Shelf, you have to swipe up on the shelf twice. One swipe brings you to the last card, the second finally closes it. Very annoying.

    Critical Issues

    Does anyone remember the issue when calling emergency numbers? That’s right, your phone simply restarted. Nowadays that issue isn’t present anymore, but we have a different one: Your phone may now call the incorrect emergency number! Source here. This is very concerning, and I don't even want to think about how this is even possible.

    Furthermore, did anyone see the changelog for the latest OTA for the 9 series? It contains “Fixed the small probability issue that the device may restart when playing games”. Now, maybe I am expecting too much, but when a device restarts when playing a game, it sounds an awful lot like the codebase for OxygenOS is one major mess.

    Localization & Text Issues

    I’m fully aware that English isn’t the first language of many employees. But for a company the size of OnePlus (they aren’t a small company anymore), being active internationally, there’s no excuse for terrible translations, weird naming and typos.

    For example, why is “Sounds & Vibrations” (and most other sections in Settings) title case, but “Apps & notifications” not? I believe “notifications” need an uppercase N. There’s another example here as well.

    It’s not too difficult to solve either. Part of the solution is to let users contribute translation changes, which can then be reviewed by someone who is fluent in English. I’m quite sure that there are many people around here who are willing to help solve the localization issues for their own language, as it not only benefits themselves, but everyone else using their language as well.

    Changelogs

    The best and easiest way for consumers to know what changed about the software they use, is by having proper changelogs. I have talked about this to people before, and the answer was: “Some changes aren’t important to mention”. That’s right, but also subjective.

    This is closely related to people who complain about never hearing anything back about their bug reports and feedback submissions. Most issues that are reported aren’t mentioned in the changelog, so people don’t even know something is fixed until they keep checking it after every update.

    It’s important to share the changes so both the general users, the media and bug reporters know what’s different and/or new. Sometimes new features aren’t even mentioned, which is quite annoying for anyone waiting for certain features.

    This doesn’t just apply to system updates either. I’m often amazed by how bad the changelogs of apps are. Like, what am I supposed to do with “General bug fixes” as the only thing in a changelog. What did it solve? What is considered general? Or, “Fixed the failure issue with Wi-Fi”. What failure? To connect? To stay connected? To switch to the right network? No clue.

    Wrapping Up

    I could go on for days, but that’s not beneficial to any of us. The point is that there’s a very major lack of polish, consistency, quality control and structure which is hurting the user’s abilities to enjoy their devices.

    Not only does it hurt the enjoyability, it also hurts the OnePlus brand both long and short term, because once you leave a bad impression, people are way less likely to stay, let alone return in the future (who else still has nightmares from the Touchwiz days?).

    To the marketing team: New features like medals in Zen Mode are not as important for media coverage as security patches are, even though it may seem boring to you. People expect trust and security, and the only way to gain that trust is by proving you care.

    What needs to change is OnePlus’ focus. Make sure security patches are rolled out quickly and monthly. Test every change being made to the software before even thinking about making it available.

    Hopefully all of this will change with OxygenOS 12, but I very much doubt it. If it doesn’t, you’ll end up only with (not to be insulting) the average consumer. One which will also be very disappointed with the lack of updates, major technical and visual bugs, and lack of feedback from OnePlus with regards to reported issues.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021

    #1
  2. McJader
    Marshmallow Apr 2, 2021

    McJader , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Gib Android 12:mad:;):D
    I understand that not all devices face the same issues.
    However on my OP Nord, I've never faced a single bug among so many that I read about on the forums everyday. And all this on Beta. No automatic restarts, no UI crashes, no navigation gesture errors. Just my experience. For every device that have an issue, there are probably 100 more that don't. However, it is true that such bugs aren't normal and shouldn't be acceptable from a big company like OnePlus. Just my 2 cents.
    Agreed on all other counts.
     

    #2
  3. Starcommander
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Apr 2, 2021

    Starcommander , Apr 2, 2021 :
    These are my exact thoughts. Thank you for pointing out.

    The worst part is reporting the bugs, uploading GBs of log files to my drive and nothing getting fixed. There are so many bugs which have been reported 1000 times by the entire community but never fixed. OnePlus is no longer a "small" company. Imo, they should invest more in software department to fix the existing issues. Ofcourse, new features are a welcome addition but a stable software is the main priority.
     

    #3
  4. Its.Leandroo
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer Apr 2, 2021

    Its.Leandroo , Apr 2, 2021 :
    That is correct. For example, the 8T doesn't have the media player issues as far as I am aware.
     

    #4
  5. derLenno
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer Apr 2, 2021


    #5
  6. Starcommander
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Apr 2, 2021

    Starcommander , Apr 2, 2021 :
    It did had in the beginning. The OnePlus gallery would not play a video. With time, I shifted to third party media players.
     

    #6
  7. Its.Leandroo
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer Apr 2, 2021

    Its.Leandroo , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Ah well, why am I not surprised....
     

    #7
  8. YRJ
    The Lab - OnePlus 7T Reviewer; Community Hero 2020 Apr 2, 2021

    YRJ , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Definitely not @sfomin

    Kidding aside, I do agree with you @Its.Leandroo
    I do believe that a shift in priorities has caused this. I ALWAYS use open beta, starting from the day it's first available to the day I put my phone down forever.
    It's funny because open betas which were surprisingly very smooth and reasonably stable in the past are now infused with bugs. Now I know, I signed up for it and it's not right to complain but I do notice how the quality and stability of these builds have dropped over time.

    As you rightly said, hope is all that's left and I am (mostly) a very optimistic person, so surprise me OnePlus! :p
     

    #8
  9. teflocarbon
    Gingerbread Apr 2, 2021

    teflocarbon , Apr 2, 2021 :
    I don't use OnePlus phones anymore, however when I did my experience was exactly echoed as you had described.

    Inconsistencies throughout the OS were commonplace and bugs were frequent. In general, you are still paying a reasonable amount for the phone, especially in specific markets. However, you are still provided with an inconsistent and clunky experience. For me personally with my 7 Pro, I paid similar to the amount I would pay for a phone with a much more polished experience.

    For basic things like properly conforming to grammar and punctuation, there is absolutely no excuse for messing that up. It is not hard nor difficult to hire proof-readers. Even then, anyone with a rudimentary understanding of English would be able to point out several inconsistencies and errors throughout the interface.

    As for messing up emergency calls, that is just completely unacceptable on every level and should be tested and scrutinised to the highest degree.

    The longer you give this company a free ride and go "lol, thats just OnePlus at it again xddd" the longer they'll be able to keep providing you with inferior products and experiences.

    Push for accountability and vote with your wallet.
     

    #9
    Padhouke, vareny, luxuskamel and 4 others like this.
  10. Its.Leandroo
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer Apr 2, 2021

    Its.Leandroo , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Exactly. There's no point in adding features to something that is fundamentally flawed. OxygenOS 10 wasn't even polished up when they started focusing on OxygenOS 11. And now the same thing happens going to 12. It's an ever looping cycle because they keep changing the identity every year with no time to get it polished.
     

    #10
  11. Mr. BG
    Community Hero 2020 Apr 2, 2021

    Mr. BG , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Thank you, I was especially moved by this:
    And suddenly it's 2016 all over again :rolleyes:

    (Will add more later if I have the time)
     

    #11
    Max.Mar, SRD., Liehjan and 15 others like this.
  12. derLenno
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer Apr 2, 2021

    derLenno , Apr 2, 2021 :
    These are OnePlus apps at least. Newer devices have Google apps for phone and text messages. Not only are these not optimized for one handed use, they don't look anything like their more modern OnePlus counterparts. Hope Google forces them to use these apps, because it sure as hell would be the dumbest of all ideas to use Google apps for the core functionalities of the device - instead of the in-house ones that once we're heavily advertised as "new" and "optimized for one handed use".

    Don't get me started with the German translations...

    I just started crying from that reminder of the atrocious Android 4.3 update back then 😭😭😭

    Oh yes it does.

    Still better than a stable update getting pulled 3 times before they finally managed to provide a stable stable software experience.
     

    #12
    SRD., manuel19, SoniaB and 11 others like this.
  13. script
    Moderator Moderator Apr 2, 2021

    script , Apr 2, 2021 :
    I am not a developer, so I have no idea to comment here. But,i believe you have something important to say. I know a person, who could contribute: @hennes , please have a look.
     

    #13
    Bouncer71, manuel19, the_o2 and 13 others like this.
  14. Cheetosdust
    Starting Point Expert Community Expert Apr 2, 2021

    Cheetosdust , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Beautifully written, @Its.Leandroo - hopefully this can be the start of a good dialogue with the brand.

    I cannot say much about the new OnePlus devices because I am still using the OnePlus 7 Pro with a Stable version of OxygenOS. However, I can share this. Something that is included within the OnePlus 9 Series.

    Ex7skSJU4AAZXUx.jpg

    It's a terrible look, honestly. Credit.

    Edit: Have a go at this thread on Twitter about OxygenOS killing apps on the background, I think it complements your thread well. It's by Artem Russakovskii, founder of Android Police.
     

    #14
  15. teflocarbon
    Gingerbread Apr 2, 2021

    teflocarbon , Apr 2, 2021 :
    It's.. it's somehow gotten worse since I last used it.
    Terrible look is an understatement. It's to the point of unequivocal laziness
     

    #15
    luxuskamel, Bobbie63, Dresa91 and 3 others like this.
  16. sfomin
    Nougat Apr 2, 2021

    sfomin , Apr 2, 2021 :
    TouchWiz is king:cool:

    thats right, TouchWiz is king:cool:
     

    #16
    SRD., luxuskamel, the_o2 and 9 others like this.
  17. Its.Leandroo
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer Apr 2, 2021

    Its.Leandroo , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Ah, let me remind you of the abbreviated translation for "Sunday".;)
     

    #17
    manuel19, luxuskamel, B_Wrath and 7 others like this.
  18. Cheetosdust
    Starting Point Expert Community Expert Apr 2, 2021

    Cheetosdust , Apr 2, 2021 :
    It's not even a typo - or two or three or nine - with a regional language like Portuguese. That would be pretty bad on its own, but this is in English.
     

    #18
    SRD., otto2, manuel19 and 10 others like this.
  19. Its.Leandroo
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer Apr 2, 2021

    Its.Leandroo , Apr 2, 2021 :
    Thanks ;)

    I'm still using the 7 Pro on the side as well, but on a beta build instead. Most noticeable are the performance issues. I can't remember the last time I have seen 90hz on that phone.
     

    #19
  20. teflocarbon
    Gingerbread Apr 2, 2021

    teflocarbon , Apr 2, 2021 :
    More than likely, DeepL would have had a better result with translating from Chinese to English compared to whatever they did there.
     

    #20