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OnePlus wants Oxygen OS 13 to be 'close to stock' for long-time users

The company isn't abandoning the Oxygen OS name and seems ready to win back loyal fans.
By
February 28, 2022
Oxygen OS 12 Beta Never Settle Widget
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • OnePlus has laid out its plans for Oxygen OS 13, which will be based on Android 13.
  • During a media roundtable with executives, the company said it wants to keep the stock feel in mind for “long-time OnePlus users.”
  • OnePlus said it is working with Google on this, but it is unclear what that company’s role actually is.

Oxygen OS was once one of the most beloved Android skins as far as the enthusiast crowd was concerned. Over the years, that reputation dropped as the skin moved further away from its stock roots. In 2021, the company essentially put a final nail into the Oxygen OS coffin when it announced “OnePlus 2.0” and the merging of Oxygen OS and Oppo’s Color OS.

See also: A look at the major Android skins

However, the company appears to understand this was a mistake — at least partially. At a media roundtable with OnePlus CEO Pete Lau, Oppo vice president Chris Shu, and Oxygen OS/Color OS lead Gary Chen, the company dished some new info on what’s to come for Oxygen OS 13.

First, as we reported earlier today, the Oxygen OS brand isn’t going anywhere. Originally, OnePlus said Color OS and Oxygen OS would merge together into a then-unnamed unified system. However, that isn’t happening anymore. Although the systems will have the same codebase, OnePlus phones will have Oxygen OS and Oppo phones will have Color OS, and the skins will be different.

Next, OnePlus seems to understand the importance of holding onto the enthusiast crowd.

Oxygen OS 13: Not leaving fans in the dust?

Android 13 stock photos 9
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

OnePlus built its brand on the enthusiast crowd. As the company has grown, it’s ignored the wants from this base. Instead, it’s chased after the average user to help it grow even more.

The backlash to the end of Oxygen OS, though, might have been big enough for OnePlus to do an about-face. During the media roundtable, Gary Chen made it clear the company is looking to keep Oxygen OS 13 simple with the word “stock” thrown around quite liberally.

Check out what the company had this to say in a press release launched after the media roundtable:

Our software philosophy for Oxygen OS has always been to offer users a light and clean experience that is close to stock Android and oriented towards usage globally. With Oxygen OS 13, we want to deliver an experience that long-time OnePlus users will be familiar with while ensuring it upholds hallmarks of Oxygen OS, like a fast and smooth experience, burdenless design, and ease of use.

That all sounds like OnePlus is ready to get Oxygen OS back to basics. However, the company did add this part at the end:

Oxygen OS 13 will retain its unique visual design and a range of exclusive customization features.

Unfortunately, that must mean the overall look and feel of Oxygen OS based on Android 13 won’t be much different from Oxygen OS 12. We’ll need to wait and see how that pans out.

Google is involved…somehow

Google Store NYC Opening Tour 13
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

During the roundtable, all three executives emphasized that the company is working closely with Google to make Oxygen OS shine. However, when pressed to give details on this, no one gave any concrete info.

To be clear, Google works closely with all the major Android OEMs. The developers at each company need to liaise with Google about updates and changes within Android. In other words, what OnePlus is describing here isn’t very surprising.

However, if Google is working closely with OnePlus specifically on Oxygen OS 13, that could be good news for fans of stock-like interfaces. Then again, if OnePlus’ goal is to keep things looking and feeling stock, why did it say it will “retain its unique visual design?” Why wouldn’t it just take stock Android from Google, tweak it slightly, and call it Oxygen OS as it did originally?

It’s possible OnePlus is just trying to calm its fanbase down for the time being by throwing them a bone. We won’t know for certain until the first Oxygen OS 13 betas roll around. That probably won’t happen until the late spring or early summer.