A take on birth of Sailfish OS and what it offers!
They say the time for new smartphone platforms came and went. Since the time Nokia launched its lone runner OS ‘Symbian’, Android and iOS have been the first to break the technological deadlock for smartphones introducing new dimensions to what a man can do with a phone in his hand. The launch of iPhone in 2006 followed by a subsequent reply by Google with the introduction of Android in 2008, marked the biggest change in the history of phones. From an enthusiastic point of view, these words make so much sense, and reflect a timeline of advancements, inciting all the nostalgia in the world.
But let’s face the truth, it’s all because we are not left with many options or anything new to try. And we don’t have it because not many developers are focused on bringing innovation to our tables since the two major platforms continue to have a tight grip on the segment. So basically, we have run out of options, right? Well, not really. How come? I will come to that.
Quick flashback: In the past few years, Nokia has had a rough ride, or we say ‘nightmare’. Maybe they panicked, maybe they were optimistic about being able to carry their image as an innovator even when it was obvious that Symbian is officially dead, Nokia got way off the charts. Even the big ‘Microsoft’ collaboration couldn’t keep the ship from sinking. And here we are today with no Microsoft Lumia around us, because apparently, Nokia finally shook hands with Android, and launched Android-powered phones. But a team of employees, who unfortunately had to leave Nokia due to the seemingly sly promise of progress by Nokia when they accepted Android as their saviour. While some among them joined other organizations, others came together to create Sailfish OS under the umbrella company named Jolla.
What lead to the founding of Jolla?
In 2005, the team at Nokia created OS2005 which was later renamed to Maemo, and renamed further to MeeGo in 2010, after the company merged with Intel’s Moblin – an open source Linux OS. However, much to everyone’s surprise, Project MeeGo was taken down by Nokia in 2011, which left many in the founding team of MeeGo, dismayed. Consequently, they put down their papers at Nokia to form Jolla – a company with its own OS ‘Sailfish’ and in-house smartphone manufacturing unit. Since its inception, Jolla has tied up with big partners like Sony, as the first phone ever featuring Sailfish OS was Sony Xperia X, which boasts a pure Sailfish OS experience.
What makes Sailfish OS different?
Even though Nokia took a decision to shut down the manufacturing of MeeGo division, the key people in the founding team of Jolla saw the potential in what the OS was capable of. In fact, the name ‘Jolla’ is a Finnish word that means ‘a rescue boat’. Those with an eye for humour must have understood what Jolla meant by that. What the Sailfish OS offers is quite different from what we have had in years, and for a change, a fraction of users are already liking it around the world.
So what are the unique features of Sailfish OS? Let’s find out:
iPhone X was recently launched and it’s the first phone in the world that uses full gesture control on a touchscreen, right? WRONG! Sailfish OS was the pioneer in applying gesture controls to smartphones. The user interface to some could feel clumsy at first, but so does happen with an Android user when they first switch to iOS, and vice versa. Users can directly interact with the applications with the help of gestures that make excellent use of the screen area. Your app menu comfortably sits in an app drawer that you can bring up just by an upward flick of your finger from the bottom of the screen. For single-handed operations, the phone has been customized very well, made possible by gesture controls. Unlike an Android or iOS smartphone where you have to stretch your finger all the way up to the top, which is not even possible with one hand if you are holding a 6-inch smartphone, Sailfish powered Jolla phones enable you to access your notifications by a simple sideway swipe from the left.
To go to the home screen, simply swipe up like you do in an iPhone X, which will take you to the app drawer that is also the home screen. To close an app, just swipe down and you are good to go. Something noteworthy here is that closing an app on Sailfish OS means closing an app, which means you wouldn’t find the app multitasking in the background. Each app that you open on Sailfish OS gets sorted in a clean grid view, from where one can access the previously opened apps, and close them too. In case, you are wondering how to go back in any app, a left swipe is the answer.
Usually, each mobile app has a section for settings, which has more sub settings. Now in both Android and iOS, you are taken to a separate window that opens as you access it. And then you have to go back to access other sub settings. But in Sailfish OS, things are a little different. Every time you open an app with settings, the app stacks other settings in a drawer above the app window. This drawer can be pulled down to reveal the other settings and access them with ease.
The team behind Sailfish OS has taken the colours quite seriously in the themes, making bold use of colours. The OS disposes the generic word ‘Themes’ for the magic it creates with something it likes to call ‘Ambiances’. Ambiances represent the mood you want to use your smartphone with. There are different ambiences which are very different from each other and feel quite aesthetic to look at. The idle screen is a clean wide view of the screensaver you set, with no notifications or alerts, and stays that way until you swipe up to reveal the home screen.
Gelling up with the competitors
Not with iOS, but it looks even after challenging the data privacy protocols of Google, Jolla always wanted a technical truce with at least the Android. That is why, Sailfish supports Android apps and all the fun that comes along with it. To use Android apps on your Jolla smartphone, all you have to do is download the Android support app from the Jolla Store, and enable Android Support from within the app. However, the makers of the OS mention that some of the Android apps may not be compatible enough for use, but then most of the apps, regardless of their conflict with the OS, may run smoothly.
Sailfish OS may not even be in the run with huge competitors like Android or iOS, but then from the perspective of change, it could be good choice. Besides, the makers of it haven’t just created any OS that isn’t good for nothing; Sailfish OS is super functional, aesthetic, gesture controlled, and most importantly, intuitive.