Every Oppo phone ships with ColorOS, a custom user interface that sits on top of Google’s Android. With over 45 million active users in India and 350 million globally, it is hard to argue how critical ColorOS is to the overall development of an Oppo phone. With the launch of the FindX2 and FindX2 Pro, Oppo is bringing ColorOS 7.1 based on Android 10. The new version of ColorOS brings in a ton of new features and optimisations that drastically improves the user experience of an Oppo smartphone. In an exclusive interview with Indianexpress.com, Manoj Kumar, who is responsible for overseeing the development of ColorOS for international users, opens up on ColorOS 7.1, the development process, testing of ColorOS, and more. Edited excerpts from the interview.
Could you tell us what’s new in ColorOS 7.1?
When I talk about ColorOS 7.1, we have optimised the user interface, especially for the 120Hz ultra-high refresh rate which is coming to the FindX2 and FindX2 Pro. The whole experience is built around how we can improve the user experience for our users. It has many new features like HDR video enhancer, motion compensation, natural tone display, AI brightness, and multi-user mode. For the first time, our new phones will also be YouTube signature devices.
How does Oppo decide on adding new features to ColorOS? Do you rely on the feedback of users?
We do very large comprehensive studies, more than one or two studies each year. These dedicated studies help us understand what people want and what are the features which they are looking for…we are very open to listening to them. We also listen to user’s feedback on the ColorOS community. Apart from that, we regularly receive feedback from our customer care centers, where people are coming up with the problems. So we collect that data, analyse those problems, and then we try to find out the trends from them. Based on the trends, we do the ideation across the teams. We have a very rigorous process inside which we follow to convert that idea and to take that insight from point A to point B. Obviously, we cannot process everything, but we take the best out of it.
What role does Oppo’s R&D center in India play in ColorOS?
The core purpose of establishing an R&D center in India was to be closer to Indian users. We have more than 300 members and there is a dedicated team for ColorOS. For the entire ColorOS localisation part, we are close to more than 30 developers that are already working on localisation. We are also closely working with our HQ team.
How long is the process of designing a new version of ColorOS?
It’s roughly…between four to six months. Obviously, whenever you are building the software, efforts are distributed across various teams; one team cannot build the software.
There is a perception that Oppo’s ColorOS has an uncanny resemblance to iOS. As someone who is responsible for developing and improving ColorOS for international users, what steps have you taken to improve the user interface of Oppo smartphones?
Yes, you are right. We are also getting this feedback from our users and according to that, we have done a lot of changes. From ColorOS 6 to ColorOS 7, we have gone very lightweight and smooth. Going forward, you will see many more customisations in ColorOS.
There is a large debate over “Pure” Android versus a version of Android that is completely customised by manufacturers. Why do Oppo smartphones come with ColorOS?
Android is a great platform and we work very closely with Google. It’s important to understand that there are certain customisations we do on the top of Android. We get requests to include certain features that are specifically demanded by our users. So we feel compelled to do that for our users.
Everyone is talking about privacy and security these days since our smartphones contain a lot of sensitive data. Does Oppo take the privacy of users seriously?
Privacy is very important for us as an organisation. If you see, we have introduced many privacy-related features in ColorOS 7.1. For example, in ColorOS 7.1, there is this personal protection feature, which can enhance user privacy. Also, all of our data related to India is stored in India, and we are complying with the local laws and regulations.
A lot of Chinese smartphone makers show advertisements in the user interface. This issue has gained a lot of steam in India’s tech circles in recent months. How do you want to respond to this issue?
Android is an open platform. Obviously, Android and Google have this advertising platform, but we do not encourage this. We have certain features which we have enabled where users can block these advertisements. So that’s our stand, basically.
The biggest problem with most Android smartphones is the slow rollout of the latest Android version. Apart from one or two manufacturers, most Android device-makers take a lot of time to update their phones. Now that Android 11 has been announced by Google, when do we see Oppo phones getting the newest version of Android
Updates are very important, and we are kind of lagging in this area. But if you’ve seen ColorOS 7 onwards, we have stepped up. Going forward, Oppo will be among the first smartphone makers to bring the Android 11 experience to the Find X2 series.
One of the common problems with Android phones is that they start slowing down in a year or two. Apps load a bit slower, and the user interface becomes less responsive. This hampers the performance of the phone. How do you make sure that ColorOS performs smoothly on a phone over time?
We are aware of this. We have done many optimisations at the system level so that the performance does not degrade over time. For example, just to name a few, we have OSense, which was our in-house optimisation. We have also introduced the UI First technology to optimise the smoothness of our systems.
What features can we expect to see in the next version of ColorOS?
People are consuming a lot of content on the devices nowadays and obviously, they tend to lose the battery. We have collected a lot of feedback, and this is also found in our research. We are working on some solution around that; it’s just a work in progress.