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Yandex’s alternative Android store helps Jolla’s Sailfish OS get off the ground

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One of Jolla’s potential rocket-thrusters is the Android compatibility of its Sailfish OS – the MeeGo-derived smartphone platform was always going to run Android apps alongside its own, and the operating system recently gained the ability to run on Android hardware as well.

But, given that Google(s goog)’s Play Store is out of the question, how are users supposed to get their hands on those apps? Now we know the answer to that one: On Wednesday, Finland’s Jolla announced a partnership with Russian web giant Yandex, through which the Yandex.Store app marketplace – usually found on obscure, non-Google Android devices — will come preinstalled on Jolla smartphones.

According to a statement from Jolla co-founder Sami Pienimaki:

“Jolla’s strategy is always to work with the most applicable service partners in specific markets and create long-term strategic partnerships. We analysed a number of alternative Android app stores to use for our first markets in Europe, and quickly found out that what Yandex offered was very competitive and that they were very interested in developing their app store together with us for their future needs and for the needs of Sailfish customers.”

The deal means the Jolla smartphone will be able to launch later this year with popular apps such as Facebook(s fb), Twitter(s twtr), Skype(s msft), Foursquare and so on, which is nice, but these Android apps offer an uncertain user experience on a platform that isn’t Android, or even an Amazon(s amzn)-style Android fork. Sailfish OS has its own notification system, for example, and its own control gestures.

However, while native rather than Android apps will probably provide the best experience, Jolla only opened up its Store to submissions last week. With Yandex.Store already offering around 85,000 apps, I think it’s pretty clear which app type is expected to do the heavy lifting in the early days of Jolla and its Sailfish OS.

(Incidentally, Jolla phones will also carry Nokia(s nok)’s Here maps, the firm said on Wednesday — although it gave that particular game away late last week on Twitter.)

4 Responses to “Yandex’s alternative Android store helps Jolla’s Sailfish OS get off the ground”

  1. @eddie

    Eddie there are a lot of developers that do develop for Sailfish now.
    I would guess there will be a over a thousand native apps at launch.

    Surprised? The apps are a simple port from meego mer harmattan

    for the basic apps they can stay android but if you have ever used QT
    then you will understand how well it performs.
    I think its simple
    they can throw the app on the store and if they get a lot of sales/users and want to
    enhance the product they can…. by coding in QT and integrating fully with UI features
    its really a win-win.
    This is really the kernel that android should have had….(samsung ..tizen)
    I hope lots of people support them

  2. > Jolla wants developers to write native apps for its Sailfish …

    Well isn’t that wonderful Jolla *wants* developers to do something for Jolla. What will Jolla do for its developers? Where’s the symbiosis? What’s the trade?

    • It’s a good question, what will be the reason to make a native app if existing ones work well enough.

      I think it’s about the better user experience for how ever many users they will get. For what I have seen in the demo videos, for example the ability have two shortcut keys for every native app even when they are running in the background, could be useful. Jolla is going to start selling their phone in China and in some European markets. If few million chinese buy it, it might be a market worth the effort.

      Also if you make the native apps with QT, it should make it possible to use the code also on Android and iOS, but without the shortcut keys etc. of course. It has to be said that QT’s support for these two platforms is still a bit “hacky”. QT on them works, but but it is expected to improve in near future. This might be another reason for some developers to do it the other way, first on Sailfish and then use the same app on other platforms. Still it’s too early to say if Jolla’s hopes will come true in any extent, but good luck to them