Exciting times ahead for Mozilla’s friendly neighborhood Firefox OS

Things are gearing up for Mozilla’s very own Firefox OS, I touched upon the mobile OS in my previous post citing that Firefox OS is one of the many innovations Mozilla is currently developing. This is one innovation that is as ambitious as Mozilla’s first task: going up against a giant — in this case, two giants of the mobile field.

One of Mozilla’s big push for Firefox OS is to launch FirefoxOS App Days a global push to introduce and promote Firefox OS to developers. Since the name of this game is getting a good number of applications into the OS to replicate and to make the shift from iPhone and android easier for the consumer by providing seamless experience. This is after all the very crux of what Mozilla is trying to do with Firefox OS — break the walled gardens that made iPhone and android such a duopoly.

Manila Firefox OS App Days

Manila Firefox OS App Days

A few days before App Days, Mozilla together with its partner, Telefonica (through Geekphones) previewed its Firefox OS developer phones.

firefoxgeeksphone

Firefox OS has a simulator in the browser but there’s nothing better, I bet, than getting the opportunity to use the physical phone to test out and develop apps for the mobile OS.

I admit I’m a little charmed by the orange  but I also fancy the white, if only for the ‘Firefox OS’ brand at the back. It does bear a bit of a resemblance to an iPhone, which some people have already pointed out. Although I think of course that’s the shape and look it would look like because:

a) Smartphones tend to look this way these days save for a few phones out in the market.

b) It’s a developer phone so the look might still change.

But that discussion is neither here nor there, so let’s talk facts, what will the phone’s hardware be:

  • CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 1Ghz
  • UMTS 2100/1900/900 (3G HSPA)
  • GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G EDGE)
  • Screen 3.5″ HVGA Multitouch
  • 3 MP Camera
  • 4GB ROM, 512 MB RAM
  • MicroSD, Wifi N, Light and proxmity Sensor, G-Sensor, GPS, MicroUSB
  • 1580 mAh battery
  • Over the air updates
  • Unlocked, add your own SIM card

The specifications aren’t all that impressive considering all the other phones in the market today but we also have to remember that Mozilla is targeting the low cost smartphone market. Considering that, I’d say the phones can stand up on its own.

Another piece of good news for the mobile OS: Japanese carrier, KDDI seems interested in selling Firefox OS phones.  Exciting times ahead for Firefox OS, especially this coming January 26th!

Also, if anyone’s interested, I’ll also be talking about Mozilla WebFWD on the Manila Firefox OS App days. If you have a startup with an Open Source component, you can drop by and talk to me.

 

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Days of Firsts: Mozilla Campus Tour – Pamantasan ng Cabuyao

It seems the season for colds has finally hit and it hit me hard, its not a favorite experience by a long shot and I’m glad I’m finally recovering from the cold.

(Chicken soup, sinigang and lots of Vitamin C seems to be just what the doctor ordered.)

Before the cold hammered down on me I attended my first Mozilla Campus Tour in Pamantasa ng Cabuyao in Laguna and it was a hell of an experience! I’ve never met a more passionate and talented group of kids like the Engineering students of PNC! They’re the kind of guys you would never regret hanging out with.

The Mozilla Campus Tour dealt with introducing what Mozilla was and its many projects to help advance the Open Web, what was surprising though was the programs the students prepared for our day long talk. There were pageants, songs, dances and even surprise serenades!

 

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It was also with a sense of excitement that I listened to Mozilla Philippine’s Community Manager, Eusebio ‘Jun’ Barrun explain what Mozilla is and what it stands for then to hear Jean Austin Rodriguez Jr talk about Webmaker, piquing my interest about Webmaker and every project associated with it (Popcorn is something else!) then finally getting first hand experience with a Google Nexus with ‘Firefox OS’ (care of  Robert Reyes) was one of the things that made my day!

Another interesting and fun thing to watch was Kemuel Domanog explaining and trying to drum up interest for Student Reps, very convincing discussion livened up with his random outbursts of ‘T-shirt!’

PNC was also where I first talked about Mozilla WebFWD, and that was an experience but a fun one! Also very nerve wracking, because I did mention there were a hundred or more students, right?

Fortunately, I was able to get through the presentation and even managed to get some questions from the students!

mozcampustour

 

All in all, despite the torrential rain that met us when we arrived in Laguna it was a really fun and fulfilling one too. It was so great to meet so many kids who are always so excited and ready to meet any challenge with good cheer.

It made me proud to be in such great company.

Running around the wheelhouse

Its going to be an interesting year in mobile.

The past few years Apple’s iOS and Googles Android mobile platforms have slowly and surely dominated the mobile market and as comScore reports, continues to leave other platforms in the dust as iOS and Android become a duopoly.

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It can’t be denied that the iOS and Android are both fantastic platforms but IMO one of the reasons why people find it difficult to change phones is because of  ‘ecosystem’. Ecosystem is the much bandied around buzzword of 2012, and recently it became something of a pet peeve of mine whenever I come across the term.  It’s become a reason for tech journalists to put down other platforms (mobile or otherwise) and its started to irk me because a lot of good laptops or phones are put down because of this one word catchphrase.

These ecosystems or walled gardens lock people into their platforms because most popular apps are developed for them and if developers want their apps used they have to join in too. It becomes a cycle where there aren’t a lot of users for a certain device (a Blackberry phone for example) because it lacks apps; the device lacks apps because the developers don’t make apps for that device because there aren’t a lot of users.

Except, this year things might change with the entry of not just one but four new mobile OS, a lot of tech journalists are pessimistic with the entry of these new OSes because they consider the mobile market ‘crowded’ but I don’t see how its any crowded with only two platforms casting a long shadow on everything related to smartphones. Yes, windows phones are trying their hardest to break into that two horse race, and Blackberry is throwing everything into their new BB10. So all in all, the market isn’t actually crowded and does have room for one or, hell, maybe even three more.

These  four new mobileOS hopes to at least make a dent into iOS and Android’s duopoly.

FirefoxOS

Mozilla has and always will stand for the Open Web and fighting any kind of monopoly or duopoly that limit people’s choices. It’s something I’ve come to really love about Mozilla. FirefoxOS is Mozilla’s answer to the overwhelming closed ecosystems of both Apple and Google.

Since the biggest platform is still the internet Mozilla is bringing the Open Web to mobile. This, among other things is why Mozilla is a big supporter of HTML 5.

SailfishOS

After Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop burning platform memo Elop pivoted Nokia away from its bid in making its own Mobile OS (Meego Harmattan) and straight into Microsoft Windows phones, whether that’s a good move for Nokia or not is something time will tell but as a recent Nokia N9 user I will say it was a pity they jumped from Harmattan to Windows.

(I honestly enjoy using Nokia’s Swipe UI together with the Harmattan’s multitasking abilities. Multitasking abilities that remind me a lot of webOS.)

A lot of Nokia engineers were not happy with the move and also jumped ship, this time away from the company and into Jolla and since that time they’ve been spinning Meego Harmattan into its newest iteration: SailfishOS. I’m not really a techie so I can’t go into details but only know that Meego Harmattan itself is based on Mer. Since the Swipe UI belongs to Nokia, Jolla developed the ‘Pulley system’, instead of swiping from the side, users will ‘pull down or up from one edge to another.

It looks very, very beautiful although I’m still partial to the Swipe UI, I think I could come around to liking the Pulley system too.

Tizen

We come to an OS I’m least familiar about.

According to wikipedia: Tizen’s goal is very similar to FirefoxOS: an open ecosystem for the open Web. Unlike all the other upcoming OS, Tizen actually has one big advantage: Samsung. The giant tech company announced it will be using Tizen for a number of their smartphones.

 

Ubuntu for Phones

The newest entry into the game! And most likely will be launching its first phones in 2014. One of the biggest things Ubuntu has going for it is that Ubuntu can be used from the desktop, to the TV and finally to the phones. I can’t say a lot about it yet except that its very gesture heavy and I’m loving the look.

 

Open WebOS

Now, this is where things started it all for me — my interest for different OS other than an Android or iOS. I might give the impression I don’t like the two platforms but I do. Its just that after a while I found both limiting. webOS has a pretty fascinating, if tragic history. HP’s former CEO Apotheoker killed the HP Touchpad six months after the release, and with it Palm’s webOS, fortunately the few but dedicated developer community kept it alive long enough for HP’s new CEO to bring it out and relaunch as Open webOS.

One of the things I love about using webOS is the multitasking, I love how fantastic the multitasking is. Its limited in a number of ways but its very very  freeing in others.

webOS Ports managed to port Open webOS to a Galaxy Nexus and it was my first time I’ve seen it and it really fascinated me enough to help me embark in finding other mobile OS. But back to Open webOS, I think this one has a lot of needles to thread before we ever see it as a fully functional mobileOS but I’m looking forward to that day.

So those are the new entrants to the mobile race and after my forage into the wilderness I actually came out of it very much platform agnostic. I realize that I love the idea of playing around with a lot of different platforms without getting locked in.

I love choice, I love that this will push innovation forward, and to paraphrase a familiar quote:

I, for one, welcome  all our new mobile OS wall breakers.