Oppo Product Design Director Chris Chen on ColorOS 7 highlights, bloatware complaints, and more

Chris Chen, Product Design Director of OPPO ColorOS, said the company is working to make the UI lighter and more efficient for users.

ColorOS 7 brings system-wide dark mode for Oppo phones
ColorOS 7 brings system-wide dark mode for Oppo phones (Oppo)

Oppo in a first hosted an event in India that centered upon software. The company today unveiled ColorOS 7, a revamped UI for more than 20 models across Reno, Find, F, K, and A-series phones. The new UI is focused on making the experience faster for users - Oppo claims ColorOS 7 improves system response by up to 30% and RAM efficiency by up to 40%.

ColorOS 7 comes at a time when more and new smartphone players are working on making the custom UI closer to stock Android experience. For instance, Nokia and Motorola offer bare minimum customisations on their phones. Xiaomi's MIUI is among the few highly customised UIs that are quite popular. Interestingly enough, Realme is working on its own customised UI that borrows elements from both Android 10 and ColorOS 7.

We spoke to Chris Chen, Product Design Director of OPPO ColorOS, on a range of topics including complaints about the bloatware, comparisons with other OS, and more importantly the need for a custom UI. Here are edited excerpts.

When you redesign an interface, what goes down on the paper? What's brainstorming like?

We want to provide our users a very simple focus, a calm-like feeling. We want our users to focus on their life. And as we know that our users nowadays are very busy and we want them to focus on the most important things in their life. So, we want to create our OS to be effortless and very simple.

We expect ColorOS 7 to offer new features and improvements? But what features you think to stand out? What best Android features it brings?

The first thing is about our information density, we think our information density is lower. And also, we do not only focus on features, but we also take care of our users' emotions. So, these two together are the embodiment of the vision that we've just covered with the new OS.

I would like to give you an example by Dark Mode. We think it's a very good example. Android has provided a very good basic structure and also the mechanics of the dark mode. But the third parties need to make it compatible with Android. And it's a very long process and entails a lot of workloads. So, ColorOS has been doing a lot to combine this dark mode and make it more automatic. We will make the third party apps compatible with Dark Mode even when they don't support it yet.

Here's when your Oppo phone will receive ColorOS 7 update
Here's when your Oppo phone will receive ColorOS 7 update (Oppo)

One of the biggest complaints that users have with ColorOS is the bloatware. Does the new OS address this problem? Please also comment on ColorOS' similarities with other UIs and operating systems.

Yes, we are aware of the complaints and we want to address them. So, keeping the UI lightweight is our primary direction. We have tried to address the problem through improvements in visual and interaction. The first one I would like to tell you about the visuals. For example, we have reduced the saturation of our colours. And also we have reduced the colored area on the interface and also we have removed all those lines and add more breathing space. And also we have made our icon small lightweight. We are taking such steps to reduce the visual weight of our colours.

The second is about the interaction. We have also made our interaction light. For example, the model page we have just displayed in the press release allows the user to simply switch simply to operate an action with one hand. And also it doesn't need to go back and forth of different pages and they are they can easily fulfill your function

The second question about originality of ColorOS, I want to give you an example of three finger screenshot. Actually, this design is initiated by Oppo in 2014. Now, it's already become mainstream screenshots interaction. We have also upgraded it. We want to add more thinking behind this design.

Preview of ColorOS 7's focus mode which lets you block calls and notifications
Preview of ColorOS 7's focus mode which lets you block calls and notifications (Oppo)

What are some of the top features for Indian users in ColorOS 7?

There are several features designed especially for Indian users. For instance, for 'DocVault' we have collaborated with DigiLocker. All the insight design is done together with the Indian design team and also our Shenzhen design team. We have also introduced features such as bike mode and music party among others based on users' feedback. In the future, as the Indian design team grows, we will launch more localized features and solutions catered to the Indian market.

What are the improvements in the camera department?

As the camera is one of the frequently used apps, we have done several changes and improvements. I will give you several examples. Earlier, when users needed to switch modes, they needed to tap on the button on the left and then more buttons to access other features.

With ColorOS 7, we have improved this. Users get these modes within the first layer by just swiping right. They can also access more modes with single hand usage.

There were many layers of Settings but now we've created a floating layer on Settings so users can easily and directly access the key functions in the Settings.

Do you plan to build Realme and Xiaomi like community in India?

We have to admit we haven't done a good job in terms of upgrading communities. But now, we've a detailed plan to carry out this schedule and so that we could have more feedback from our users and then we can have better exchange of ideas with users.