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OnePlus CEO says he's trying to work with Google to improve Wear OS

A OnePlus watch could really be the boost to Wear OS that it so sorely needs.

What you need to know

  • Interview with OnePlus CEO Peter Lau discusses OnePlus' past decisions and future products.
  • While he did not elaborate on Carl Pei's departure, the company had previously faced some internal conflict over its software decisions.
  • Lau teased the OnePlus watch while stating the company is working with Google on making Wear OS connect better with the Android ecosystem.

It's been an interesting year for OnePlus. The company made some questionable choices with its smartphones early in the year, it returned to offering cheaper, entry-level smartphones with the Nord lineup, and its founder, Carl Pei, abruptly departed the OnePlus to chase his dream. CEO and co-founder, Pete Lau, sat down with Input to discuss the ups and downs of the company, and even manage to throw in some talk about a OnePlus watch and Wear OS.

Early on in the interview, Lau discussed the company's contraversial decision to pre-load Facebook onto OnePlus 8 and Nord phones. While it wouldn't have been too big of an issue, users were unable to remove the app from their phones, which caused some disarray. It was described as a betrayal to the community that OnePlus worked hard to build since its inception, having the reputation of listening to its customers. Lau stated that criticism surrounding the move caused a "very significant and very heated debate internally in our company," which led to the company removing it from future devices.

Interestingly, Lau did not want to discuss details regarding the departure of Carl Pei, who was essentially the face of the company since the beginning. Talks of internal tension do stoke the fires of workplace disorder, especially considering some long-time employees had left the company within the year prior to Pei's departure.

Lau did say that his departure had no bearing on future products and that the company was still on track. "There's no change in our focus on delivering the best possible products going forward. There are times when people leave companies, but it hasn't changed the focus and the direction that we've set out for ourselves and will continue carrying forward."

Further in the interview, Lau discussed OnePlus working to improve camera quality, a commitment to smart TVs, and even the state of foldable smartphones, which OnePlus is not currently looking into developing due to lack of app optimization for the form factor. One thing the company is looking into: smartwatches.

It's been mentioned before that the company had begun developing a OnePlus watch as far back as 2015, only for it to be canceled a year later. OnePlus apparently decided that it was losing focus and wanted to reign itself back in, which, given the state of Wear OS at the time, is understandable. And while it hasn't improved too much in the past couple of years, Wear OS has gotten better, and some of the best Android smartwatches right now are running Wear OS.

Pete Lau recognizes this and talks about OnePlus trying to work with Google to improve Wear OS' connectivity with the overall Android ecosystem, something it seems to lack.

Wear OS definitely has room to improve. What we're trying to do is work with Google to try to improve the connectivity between the Wear OS ecosystem, Android TV, and Android smartphones to create this ability for better device interoperability across the ecosystems. This has been something looked at very positively from Google's side as well, so this is the direction that we're trying to develop, but we don't have more than we can share on that right now.

Google's purchase of Fossil's R&D team had given Android users hope that Google was getting serious about smartwatches, but not much came from it. Qualcomm recently launched new smartwatch chips aimed at powering the next generation of OS smartwatches, followed by a large, under-the-hood update to Wear OS that seemed to reinvigorate hope that Google was trying to improve things. And now that Google is purchasing Fitbit, it could signal better things coming to the platform. OnePlus has already teased that it's once again back to working on a OnePlus watch, so perhaps the stars have finally aligned.

The interview with Pete Lau can be found on Input.

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