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The new mobile alternative

Jolla and the Sailfish Alliance have taken on a major challenge: to develop and champion a truly independent mobile operating system. The first Jolla phone based on the Sailfish OS was announced in May 2013.

Remember the MeeGo and Mer Core open source projects aimed at developing a Linux-based alternative to mobile ecosystems such as iOS and Android? Well, they are still very much with us, in the shape of Sailfish, a new operating system being championed by Jolla, a Finnish start-up that first saw the light of day in 2011.

Numbering some of the leading lights from Nokia’s MeeGo N9 group and other members of the MeeGo community among its team, Jolla has set itself the task of designing, developing, and selling a new family of smartphones based on Sailfish. Rapid progress has been made so far and Jolla launched its first hardware in May 2013.

Unique differentiation potential

Jolla and its partners in the Sailfish Alliance believe that Sailfish has the potential to offer a unique opportunity for differentiation in the mobile marketplace and provide a wide range of participants – from OEMs and ODMs and chipset providers to operators, application developers, and retailers – with a new type of competitive advantage.

It will do this by offering a mobile-optimised operating system that combines the flexibility, ubiquity, and stability of a Linux core with a cutting-edge user experience created using the Qt™ application framework, a powerful crossplatform set of libraries for writing complex, user-centric applications. An extensive Sailfish SDK (Software Development Kit) is available for developers and provides support for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, automotive products, and other types of devices.

While Jolla-branded phones will be the initial spearhead of the new ecosystem, the underlying philosophy of the Sailfish Alliance is based on the entire development community participating in shaping the future direction of the operating system and developing their own products.

Partners and operators will have the opportunity to create and sell their own Sailfish phones or integrate their services into the OS to provide their users with a seamless user experience, or customise Sailfish devices to specific needs.

Industry-leading features

The Sailfish user interface (UI) has been designed with the latest consumer needs in mind and provides features such as effortless multitasking and extensive use of gestures to make it easy to navigate with just one hand and make information such as battery status, missed calls, and events no more than a swipe away.

Users can multitask instantly between applications and interact with applications that are running directly on their home screen: ending a call or pausing a song, for example, without having to enter an application.

Features like this – together with other innovations, such as a Pulley Menu that reveals more items the more you ‘pull’ the screen down, and a high degree of personalisation – will take usability and speed-of-use to a totally new level, believes Jolla.

The Sailfish OS has been designed to offer an independent, open, and partner-friendly ecosystem based around the flexibility, ubiquity, and stability of a Linux core and a cutting-edge user experience.
> Antti Saarnio
(Published in HighTech Finland 2013)