Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 4th Dec 2012 23:01 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless Two weeks ago, as I was busy finding out in Vegas that double-shot frozen cocktails are a really stupid idea, a small Finnish startup unveiled their mobile operating system: Jolla unveiled Sailfish. With a strong focus on the Chinese market, the company is aiming to offer serious competition to Android's dominance of the smartphone market.
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Comes with a "gestures" manual?
by phoenix on Tue 4th Dec 2012 23:28 UTC
phoenix
Member since:
2005-07-11

It would be wonderful if, for once, the developers of a mobile OS released a manual for the OS. Especially once that includes *all* of the different gestures that can be used.

I am so sick of "intuitive" and "discoverable" mobile OSes that don't include manuals, online help, online tips, etc expecting you to "just know" all the different ways to flick, press, rotate, pinch things with all 1-5 finger multi-touch variations of each.

Reply Score: 15

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Never mind a manual, I just want a sane interface with no hidden screens nor icons you're just expected to know.

WP7.x is the worst for this. Screens that are several widths deep and require constant swiping to find anything. And monochrome icons that I'm sure mean a great deal to a whole lot of people, but not for me. Plus when they do have text menus, it's a wall of text with teeny tiny icons; which is a dyslexics worst nightmare.

However WP7 isn't the only culprit. Android OEMs break constantly design, leaving me lost when switching between my HTC and my wife's Samsung, despite both handsets running Ice Cream Sandwich. And don't get me started the differing system icons (home button et al).

The absurd thing is, Windows Mobile 6* was more intuitive than most current touch-centric devices. Yeah, it was an ugly, stylus-dependant, temperamental piece of shit at times. And sure it's multitasking implementation gave rise to a whole plethora of additional problems too. But everything was discoverable. There wasn't hidden activities waiting to be slid out nor essential functions cleverly disguised as a household objects from the turn of the last century. These anti-intuitive design features seem to be all the rage these days and they just leave me lost.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of things I love about modern smart phone OSs (intelligent "multi-tasking", works with blunt pointers like my thumb, more sophisticated applications, HTML5 browsers, etc). But for once it would be nice to be handed someone's phone and not spend 5 minutes trying to work out how to add myself as a new contact because yet another Android OEM / smart phone developer thinks what people really need is a 3 finger gesture (yeah, it might be quicker if you can remember the f--king gesture to begin with, but the 5 minutes I waste looking blankly at my phone while my brain plays catch up negates any time saved performing the gesture itself)

I think things are actually going backwards. It's like we've already had the design revolution and now everyone is trying so hard to take that idea and run a unique spin on it. Whether that's out of fear from litigation or just a need to reinvent the wheel I don't know; but it's just confusing for the users.

* plus or minus a few releases, i lose track of which version numbers came when thanks to Microsoft and their inconsistent approach to OS naming)

edit: ranted a bit more

Edited 2012-12-05 00:21 UTC

Reply Score: 9

HappyGod Member since:
2005-10-19

First off; Thom, you're jaded.

There, now that that's out of the way. Totally agree that it's way too hard to possibly find all of the gestures that are available.

I remember accidentally finding out about the 2-finger scroll ability in iOS (you can scroll iFrame's within already scrollable web pages with 2 fingers). Before that time, I just figured the non-visible text within scrollable boxes on web pages was unreadable on the device!

Essentially, modern swipe-based operating systems are a return to the command prompt. You're just chucked into the deep end, and you figure it out, or you don't.

Reply Score: 4

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Essentially, modern swipe-based operating systems are a return to the command prompt. You're just chucked into the deep end, and you figure it out, or you don't.

If I'm not misunderstood, CLI-driven computers used to be bundled with those large manuals that explained how most common commands worked. With gestures, to the contrary, device manufacturers have stopped trying to make their devices accessible to untrained users because, you know, these are supposed to be so obvious.

So things might actually have gotten worse ;)

Edited 2012-12-07 19:26 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by abstraction
by abstraction on Wed 5th Dec 2012 00:24 UTC
abstraction
Member since:
2008-11-27

I had hopes for this product but by looking at what the emphasis is in this video I'm terrified. What a stupid interface! Please don't do those kind of things, they are confusing and unintuitive.

Reply Score: 5

Comment by gan17
by gan17 on Wed 5th Dec 2012 00:25 UTC
gan17
Member since:
2008-06-03

Interacting with the application tiles seems a bit finicky to me, and the algorithms that detect whether a swipe is meant for the entire UI or just the tile are going to be pretty crucial.

From the video preview, it seems that on that particular "multi-tasker" screen, you swipe up for the app drawer and down to go back to the original home screen. I can't see him accessing any screens to the left or right, so I assume all the left-right swipes are dedicated to the app control tiles.

Can't say I'm fond of the way he rolls his thumb 'around' the app tiles like that. Reminds me of how we used to get our thumbprints taken in the days of ink.

Edited 2012-12-05 00:25 UTC

Reply Score: 3

For a last stand
by Tractor on Wed 5th Dec 2012 00:30 UTC
Tractor
Member since:
2006-08-18

Personnally, i would love to see Jolla selling more phones in China than Nokia next year.
This will be a profound, steep, wound to Nokia (and incidentally to MS), and show them all they have lost in "giving" the company to MS.

This can only happen in China, since Jolla has no other market to begin. And even there, it will be an uphill battle, almost lost on departure. But that's the best i can hope for Jolla.

Even if such a success can be achieved, i expect nonetheless no long future to Jolla, even if I hope i'm wrong. So it will be some kind of "last stand" for Meego, the old future of Nokia.

Reply Score: 8

RE: For a last stand
by shmerl on Wed 5th Dec 2012 02:19 UTC in reply to "For a last stand"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

If they'll sell handsets through common distributors like Amazon and they'll support a good range of GSM/LTE networks then why would it be limited to China only?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: For a last stand
by cyrilleberger on Wed 5th Dec 2012 07:35 UTC in reply to "RE: For a last stand"
cyrilleberger Member since:
2006-02-01

If they'll sell handsets through common distributors like Amazon and they'll support a good range of GSM/LTE networks then why would it be limited to China only?


Because very few people buy phones through Amazon. Jolla is a very small company, so they have to focus. Their strategy is actually brilliant, they have noticed that the "Western" markets are saturated with Android and iDevices, even Microsoft is failing to make a dent in those markets, on those markets they can only reach out a few open source geeks, but they don't want to be the next OpenMoko, they aim at becoming big, therefore they need a market where they can expand. China is that market, Android is the leader, but in reality, very few Chinese have already bought a smartphone, meaning there is a lot of room to expand. And Android dominance in the Western world is irrelevant for China, it is a different ecosystem, which is also perfect for developing an alternative operating system, since the field is levelled with the competition.

Reply Score: 8

RE[3]: For a last stand
by shmerl on Wed 5th Dec 2012 08:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: For a last stand"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

It's small, but those who are already interested are a small audience either. They will buy through Amazon in the western markets and small/moderate supply will meet small/moderate demand. And it won't disturb Jolla from any focus since they won't need to deal with all the problems of western carriers and their contracts.

Edited 2012-12-05 08:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

N900 Legacy
by frostbyte on Wed 5th Dec 2012 00:33 UTC
frostbyte
Member since:
2012-02-08

Anything with N900 lineage and I'm lining up!

Reply Score: 2

RE: N900 Legacy
by vnangia on Wed 5th Dec 2012 04:25 UTC in reply to "N900 Legacy"
vnangia Member since:
2011-08-08

For me, it's not only that, but the excitement of an actual competitor. I, like Thom, have a fascination with operating systems - it's one of the reasons I started reading OSN back under ELQ - and I saw mobile as the only place where competition could occur.

Unfortunately, the entire OS war that took nearly two full decades to come to a close on the desktop side (roughly 1980±5-2000±3) happened in the space of about three years on the mobile side. Two years ago this time, we had: iOS, Android, WebOS, Maemo/Meego, Symbian S40, Symbian S60 Touch/Keypad, WM6/WP7, Bada ... only the first two have survived.

For some reason, that makes me indescribably sad, and makes me want to collect the deadends before they disappear forever.

*hugs N9 and Pre3*

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: N900 Legacy
by zima on Fri 7th Dec 2012 15:29 UTC in reply to "RE: N900 Legacy"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Two years ago this time, we had: iOS, Android, WebOS, Maemo/Meego, Symbian S40, Symbian S60 Touch/Keypad, WM6/WP7, Bada ... only the first two have survived.

S40 is not Symbian. So far it survives, almost flourishes recently under Elop (with all the Asha phones, also touchscreens), after over half a decade of stagnation.

And there's always WP8, a fairly direct descendant of WP7. If there's still any place for a third smartphone ecosystem, that's likely for the one from MS...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 5th Dec 2012 02:17 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

It's the only such effort at present to bring a serious handset OS based on conventional Linux to the market with actual modern devices coming as well. Kudos to Jolla!

Edited 2012-12-05 02:17 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by shmerl
by Neolander on Wed 5th Dec 2012 20:44 UTC in reply to "Comment by shmerl"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

It's the only such effort at present to bring a serious handset OS based on conventional Linux to the market with actual modern devices coming as well. Kudos to Jolla!

Wouldn't FirefoxOS or whatever it's called nowadays also qualify ?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 5th Dec 2012 23:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by shmerl"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

If they'd push for glibc base underneath (and related drivers) I'd say yes. But they took a shortcut and use bionic (Android's libc) and Android lower stack in order to benefit from the existing hardware base. So the outcome is not giving any advantages for the rest of the Linux world.

Jolla's benefit on the other hand (or anyone's who pushes regular Linux) for the community, is paving a path for any other distro with providing hardware where those distros can run. Be it Nemo Mobile, Plasma Active or etc. Firefox OS won't help with that.

Edited 2012-12-05 23:51 UTC

Reply Score: 5

kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

There will never be "Cyanogenmod-like" custom roms for Sailfish, because all their UI-stuff is proprietary and will be developed behind closed doors, like the Swipe-UI, it is exactly the same model as with the N9, The base is truely open but ontop there is proprietary secret sauce.
You might be able to install Mer with Nemo-UI or some other UI on a Sailfish phone, but the Sailfish UI is very much proprietary. They said so from the beginning,

Google "open core software" .. IMHO Android real FOSS(the thrown-over-the-wall-type), while open core is just marketing and really means "we-take-what-need-and-keep-our-stuff-closed"

Reply Score: 5

shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

This is incorrect. Jolla are still deciding how open their UI should be. See this discussion for example:
https://lwn.net/Articles/526935/ (or if they finished deciding, they didn't publish any further details yet).

In the best case it can be fully open. Their further plans are to make the UI swappable, so you could install fully open Nemo UX on top of the common middleware for example with Sailfish (they already basically share Mer Core + Nemo middleware).

See also: https://wiki.merproject.org/wiki/Zephyr (which is a future direction of Nemo and potentially Sailfish).

Edited 2012-12-05 03:13 UTC

Reply Score: 7

kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

That are just delay tactics to appease the unwashed Twitter masses.

In a more private setting they clearly said that the UI will stay proprietary:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M1VRuYO1bU

There is also an interview with the CEO or someone saying the same ... but I can't be bothered to find it.

Reply Score: 5

masennus Member since:
2011-02-11

Calling youtube a "private setting" is the most hilarious circumlocution of the day... But you may still be right, time will tell.

Reply Score: 3

jackastor Member since:
2009-05-05

TIL what "circumlocution" means.

Reply Score: 1

shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

They mean what they say and they are honest. Take it as you want of course. They might have been more inclined to make it closed before, but obviously now they decided to reevaluate it.

Edited 2012-12-05 18:28 UTC

Reply Score: 2

If they support Android apis
by dsmogor on Wed 5th Dec 2012 06:28 UTC
dsmogor
Member since:
2005-09-01

but are not in fact not derived it would be interesting if any Chinese company would have guts to repeat the Acer and Baidu story. Having the OS fully OSS w/o much of a fluff and backed by a weak (in terms of business pressure potential) company might be very tempting for those companies (esp. on the telecom side).

Reply Score: 2

DRM
by nej_simon on Wed 5th Dec 2012 08:58 UTC
nej_simon
Member since:
2011-02-11

This is interestingt, from the sailfish FAQ:

Will you support DRM
No.

I really despise DRM but if the phone can't for ex. play youtube videos then a lot of people would probably chose another phone.

Reply Score: 2

RE: DRM
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 5th Dec 2012 09:00 UTC in reply to "DRM"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

This is interestingt, from the sailfish FAQ:
"Will you support DRM
No.

I really despise DRM but if the phone can't for ex. play youtube videos then a lot of people would probably chose another phone.
"

Sailfish is open. Others are free to add support for it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: DRM
by shmerl on Wed 5th Dec 2012 09:42 UTC in reply to "DRM"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Aren't most Youtube videos DRM free anyway?

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: DRM
by nej_simon on Wed 5th Dec 2012 15:22 UTC in reply to "RE: DRM"
nej_simon Member since:
2011-02-11

Most videos are I think. But youtube was just an example.

Reply Score: 2

RE: DRM
by 0brad0 on Wed 5th Dec 2012 10:01 UTC in reply to "DRM"
0brad0 Member since:
2007-05-05


I really despise DRM but if the phone can't for ex. play youtube videos then a lot of people would probably chose another phone.


YouTube does not use DRM.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: DRM
by nej_simon on Wed 5th Dec 2012 15:20 UTC in reply to "RE: DRM"
nej_simon Member since:
2011-02-11

Really? From what I've read google offers DRM protection for stuff uploaded by their "partners".

Besides, youtube was just an example. There are other popular streaming media services who rely more on DRM.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: DRM
by shmerl on Wed 5th Dec 2012 18:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: DRM"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

I think it's good that Jolla doesn't promote any DRM. Whatever third party will want to bring that trash in - let them bother.

Reply Score: 3

You're Welcome
by fretinator on Wed 5th Dec 2012 14:53 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

Jaded!

Reply Score: 3

Re:
by kurkosdr on Wed 5th Dec 2012 15:34 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

While Android in and of itself is open source, many of its important components, like the Google applications, as well as its services, such as the Play Store, are not.


Not it's not. Rule #1: If you can't compile a binary which works in at least one device from the source provided (aka without using any close-source software or binary blobs) , it's not open source. It's partially open source/mixed-model. Otherwise, any company that does partial source drops like the company that makes CrossOver can claim their product is open source.

Sorry, but lots of things are missing from Android, and it's not just drivers and Google's value added apps
(Play Store, Maps etc). Entire frameworks such as the GPS framework, the multimedia framework etc are missing.

Normally, a more rigid definition regarding whether a software product on sale is open source, would be the product sold (in Android's case, the product sold with the Nexus line) to fully correspond to the provided source, but Android doesn't even conform to the loose definition of open source, like the above.

Reply Score: 5

Haters gonna hate...
by jackastor on Wed 5th Dec 2012 18:40 UTC
jackastor
Member since:
2009-05-05

Honestly between this and Firefox OS, I'm excited to see something new and with the potential to be competitive.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Haters gonna hate...
by terrakotta on Wed 5th Dec 2012 18:51 UTC in reply to "Haters gonna hate..."
terrakotta Member since:
2010-04-21

bwa, it seems an awful lot like the meego UX (except you swipe up/down to switch between panes instead of left/right). It's a ui disaster (owning one for more than a year), flashy, but slow for the user to switch between apps. Still prefer a simpler webos style ui(which was hard for the processor, a problem qt would have solved). At least that one was consistent.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by j-kidd
by j-kidd on Fri 7th Dec 2012 00:22 UTC
j-kidd
Member since:
2005-07-06

Call me jaded - really, call me jaded, because I am - but I have a hard time believing it will make the kind of dent in the market some are hoping for. I'd love for it to happen, don't get me wrong, but I'm afraid it's just a little too late.

This sentiment is shared by those football fans who leave the stadium when their team is trailing by 2 goals with minutes left to be played.

Comeback doesn't happen often. But when it happens, won't you want to be the ones who think "I knew it would happen" ;)

Reply Score: 3

Comment by rain
by rain on Fri 7th Dec 2012 23:34 UTC
rain
Member since:
2005-07-09

Even though many people seem to think that the mobile OS war is settled I am not one of them. I think that there's plenty of room for competition and innovation still.

That said. I don't think that Sailfish has much to offer compared to the competition. Being slightly different just won't cut it.
That doesn't say that they won't make it. It has much more to do with business strategies and which partners get. But product wise it's a "meh" for me.

I think that the main focus should be on specific tasks and applications in my opinion. To make the device more aware of what you are up to for example like Apples Passport and Reminders, integrate better with services like Instagram or try to find other every day tasks and see how they can be made eaiser.
Building a framework and rely on third party app developers to drive innovation doesn't work in my opinion.

Reply Score: 1