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Is this the next big phone OS? Meet Jolla’s MeeGo-based Sailfish OS

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This morning, at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki, Nokia spinoff Jolla revealed the user interface for its Sailfish OS.

For fans of open-source mobile software, this is a big deal. It’s the evolution of the MeeGo operating system that Nokia ditched in favour of Windows Phone, and… well, here’s how it looks:

The UI was shown off by new Jolla CEO Marc Dillon (Jussi Hurmola left abruptly about a month ago, and is now a consultant to the firm), along with his team. There weren’t a whole lot of new details today, nor was there hardware on show. Indeed, the team came on stage brandishing a range of development hardware, rather than the Jolla smartphone that will soon go on sale through giant Chinese distributor D.Phone.

So here are a couple more pictures. In some ways – and I say this without denigrating the Sailfish UI – it brings together elements of both Windows Phone and Android. From the Windows Phone side, it seems to have borrowed the live tile concept for the homescreen, only it presents it in quite a different fashion. The app menu looks Android-ish, in my opinion, as does the dock at the bottom of the screen:

One for the road, this time the lockscreen:

Oh, and there’s a video too:

26 Responses to “Is this the next big phone OS? Meet Jolla’s MeeGo-based Sailfish OS”

  1. David Jensen

    I have not seen all of it. However, the fundamental issue is how the OS will also work on other platforms, such as netbooks. I assume it already is based on the Maemo operating system and, therefore, will have windows and stylus/ mouse support and is therefore already a keyboard and mouse system. It also uses the long established Linux, not a pie-in-the-sky “web os/html5”, system, which are doomed to failure in the near future. Its competition is the gesture, and keyboard and mouse systems: Windows 8 and Ubuntu circa 2014. These are for serious applications and will command higher prices. It is also probably the most open system. I use Python and that is my prime interest because Meego was designed to work natively with it. Python is also heavily used as a primary language in open source systems (xbmc, Raspberry Pi, etc.). These systems are the easiest to customize by the end user. It is irritating to have a device that cannot be customized. I hope Jolla has not strayed too far from Meego. The documentation needs to be greatly enhanced.

  2. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: No one cares about the efforts if a bunch of disgruntled Finnish software developers. They’re competing in China against cheap Android phones with an extensive ecosystem. Fail.

  3. Well, seems to me, Jolla’s biggest differences vs. all other mobile platforms is ability are “interacting with the several apps on the OS home screen” and… swipe up-down instead of swipe left-right.
    While first one looks very interesting at a first glance, it really puts a lot of restrictions to app developers, who will have to design their apps considering not 4 or 5 inches of smartphone, but 2-3 inches.
    And while music player control and other shown native apps look great, you wont be able e.g. to browse web from 2-3 inches screen – you will have to dive into the app itself anyway.

    You also wont watch video on 2-3 inches thumbnail…

    So the uses of this “multitasking” are very limited.
    Which actually makes Jolla “one more touchscreen OS with grids and tiles.”

    Above conclusions are made based on the video behind this link:

    If Jolla really has something more than multitasking used for music player (which Apple has as well – you can access music player from the double click home button), then they should present it rather quickly…

    • I disagree. Minimized application are able to support swipe gestures, they doesn’t change itself because they are minimized to the list of working apps. There is no more additional effort to support it than making widgets (android, symbian). The application have to support gestures, which is additional functionality and nothing else. It’s easy in both sides: os – application. The best idea how to use few application in the same time (not only background working). This is huge step forward. I think this idea will be copied soon in android. In my opinion this system contains more ideas from meego harmattan than from any other system, especially from WP, which has animated tiles, but not live view and real interaction with background application. The idea of live and minimized apps has been growing in me for a log time. I have been waiting for it for many years.

      • If apps do not change themselves in minimized to thumbnail state = impossible to use most of them.

        On tiny 2-3 inch thumbnail you will not be able to use most of the apps, designed for 4-5 inch screen. Except music player and flashlight. All other tasks I (and most people) heavily do on smartphone can not be used in thumbnail mode = watch youtube, browse web, read wikipedia, sms, email.

        + I can not imagine the need for using few apps at the same time on the smartphone. Tablet – probably. Smartphone – no.

        If you were waiting this feature for many years, you could probably give an example of these few apps you really need to use at the same time?

      • Yepp, you are right.
        I don’t understand and I dont care about what is definition of “multitasking”, until it gives me more comfort to do my stuff on the go. So most of other people don’t care as well.

        If your “truly built right from core multitasking” does not give me more than Android or iOS , I can leave without this “multitasking”. And without your new smartphone OS as well.

        Again, what I have seen on the demo here
        is not impressive. It is useless. It is fancy feature, than is not needed on day-by-day basis. I does not create any advantage for me for the tasks I usually do on smartphone.

        If you want to sell your “true multi-tasking”, you’d probably need to show more than “controlling the music player on the 2 inch thumbnail while being on the home screen”.
        Cause you haven’t created a feeling “I want this device” in me.

        This is feedback, but it seems you don’t want to listen – and this is your choice.

    • I think the purpose for the interacting apps on the home screen is supposed to be quick and dirty (like a short-cut; speed dial). I don’t know if jolla realizes the potential for such usage, It basically combine the functionality of both apps and widgets together on a smartphone level . If executives properly, we can see what smartphone can do in next level.

  4. “From the Windows Phone side, it seems to have borrowed the live tile concept for the homescreen”
    – not. This is wrong info. Do not confuse WP Tiles and multitask live thumbnails.
    This is same as multitask live thumbnails on the third screen on MeeGo N9. Your fail.