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OneLab: Who drives the creative engine within OnePlus?
OnePlus, aside from being known for providing one of the best Android experiences with its clean OxygenOS, has also introduced popular apps and features such as Clipt, WellPaper, Canvas AOD, and Zen Mode. Between them, they’ve garnered hundreds of thousands of downloads on the Google Play Store and have expanded through word-of-mouth beyond OnePlus owners to the whole Android community.
A number of these apps and features come from OneLab — a creative engine within OnePlus composed of UI/UX designers, product managers, and developers from around the world. The team focuses on developing new and exciting features that enhance the software experience of OnePlus users and beyond.
We interviewed Crayon Hsieh, head of OneLab, and Sam Twist, Senior Product Manager of OneLab, to chat about OnePlus and OneLab.
Interviewer: So, OxygenOS and ColorOS integration: what does this mean for US audiences?
Hseih: A key change coming with the OxygenOS and ColorOS integration is improved software maintenance. OnePlus flagships have always received solid support, but now the company is showing more love to its Nord N series and older devices.
For starters, the flagship OnePlus 8 series, including the 8T, will receive three major Android updates and four years of security support. The same goes for the newer OnePlus 9. You can expect three years of security support to go along with one major Android version on the Nord N side.
OxygenOS is one of the cleanest Android skins around — just how users like it. To keep it that way, OnePlus is always looking for new ways to keep bringing users into the development cycle. One of the most engaging ways to do so is with OneLab, a startup within OnePlus itself.
OneLab was originally launched as a research group within OnePlus to connect with global users, but it has grown to improve user experience with feedback and well-designed apps. It’s been at the heart of developments like Zen Mode, Bitmoji AOD, and Insight AOD — developed in partnership with Parsons School of Design — while working on their own apps like Clipt and even WellPaper.
Interviewer: We’ve noticed Zen Mode has become popular not just among OnePlus users but also among owners of other devices. Can you tell us a bit about that app?
Hseih: Zen Mode is clever in that it’s all about getting you to put your phone down. It launched back in 2019 to help users turn their focus to other tasks like work, board games, or simply time with family and friends. The very existence of Zen Mode actually came from one of our OnePlus Open Ears Forums, which is a face-to-face forum between OnePlus staff and OnePlus fans on user pain points.
The app has become a huge success and expanded beyond OnePlus owners to the Android community, receiving a 4.1-star rating by over 48,000 users on Google Play. Check it out here.
Now Zen Mode offers a Group feature where you can gather your entire family and make everyone take some screen-free time.
Interviewer: What can you tell us about the new app, OnePlus Clipt?
Twist: OnePlus Clipt brings your entire collection of devices together to give productivity a kick. By allowing you to copy on one device and paste on another, Clipt allows you to seamlessly connect all of your devices together in seconds. You can synchronize your texts, photos, and files to share in seconds. Clipt puts the days of emailing yourself a picture between platforms behind you. Best of all, it’s completely free, and you can grab it on both Google Play and the Chrome Web Store. Login on two or more devices to see the magic.
Introduced in May 2021, the app now has a rating of 4.1 stars with 90,000 downloads on Google Play. Check it out here.
Interviewer: What about another app that became popular recently: WellPaper?
Hseih: WellPaper is a digital wellbeing tool designed in the same vein as Zen Mode, but it’s all about your usage. It works by creating a live wallpaper of your daily usage. It compares the time spent in six categories like social, communication, and gaming throughout the day, resulting in beautiful unique visualizations. OneLab crafted its WellPaper as an alternate way to keep an eye on how much time you spend on social media and other apps. No two days will look the same, but it should help you tap into your browsing statistics.
Launched in May 2021, the app has a 4.0-star rating with 200,000 downloads on Google Play. Check it out here.
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