I finally got my Jolla T-Shirt and been wearing it out few times.
I made the pre-order — or bought option to be one of the first ones to order the phone – earlier this year, and been waiting for more information and experiences about the real devices to finally come.
Though I have been quite happy with many of the aspects of my iPhone 4, I’m keen to try other systems and see what the mobile life would be with other devices. My usage patterns with iPhone have been quite simple:
- Reading emails: Gmail and work emails from Exchange
- Reading documents on the move: pdf, office
- Calendar ( sync with Exchange )
- Taking photos and uploading them to Flickr
- Using Facebook: messaging, posting to feeds, reading, uploading images
- Listening to music on Spotify or music / audiobooks from iTunes library
- Reading and messaging in Twitter
- Web surfing
- Editing todo-lists in TheHitList ( OS X & iOS application )
- Using maps and navigation
- Calls and SMS
- Internet connection tethering to my Macbook Air
- Synchronization & Backups to desktop machine
- Evernote to have backups of hotel reservations and itinerary available also on mobile device
iPhone and available apps have worked really well in these tasks, but there are very few lock-ins into the iOS ecosystem that I could not live without.
When I tested Windows Phone – I was not immediately impressed – nor in love with the UI or how to use it. I felt that I could live with it and within it, but the usability concept with tiles and everything was not a homerun to me. But then again the first tests with iPhone after N900 were not either.
Android phones and devices that I have tested have felt even more like a mess than Windows Phone or Windows RT devices. Though I haven’t tested latest flagship models — life in Android-world has felt to me like living in a ghetto — you can do it, you just need to watch out and keep yourself safe.
So for the past few years I have become used to iOS world with iPhone and iPad – and have learned to cope with the restrictions that the system imposes on users and applications. In reality looking at my usage patterns there hasn’t really been that much missed, outside the possibility to access and share a filesystem between applications.
So what could Jolla and Sailfish offer to this equation?
1) A solid phone and mobile computer which will work like a good workhorse for multiple years
2) Ui concept and usability that works for power users who are comfortable with multiple applications that work together, instead of a garden of applications that each provide a single viewpoint into their world.
3) Interesting times while learning a new environment and geeking around writing own software to the Sailfish OS.
4) World of new extensions as the ‘Other Half’
Number 4 will be interesting if Jolla can pull it off and get manufacturers to jump on board with unproven platform and producer. Most likely they will have to do Apple first and create first extensions themselves and show in the market place that there is possibility to make money with the manufacturing and design capabilities that different manufacturers have.
However number 1 and 2 are the things that make it or break it for me.
If the Jolla phone & software can support even most of the use cases I have done with iPhone, I assume that I could be happy with it.
Especially as only some of the use cases are real deal breakers.
Initially it is irrelevant to me whether some secondary use cases like social network browsing are fulfilled with emulated Android applications, as long as the usability ( including the speed ) is good and applications work immediately from the start. I’d rather use an Android Facebook-application than yet another half assed FB integration.
From Android applications I hope support immediately for: Flickr, Spotify, Dropbox, Evernote, Instagram, Facebook and GoogleDrive. For some of those services I also hope native integrations later on ( Flickr, Dropbox, GoogleDrive ). Similarly any decent Twitter application: Android or native — will do.
The few functionalities that I wish to work great straight from the start and with good integration into the core functionality of the OS / Core Applications are following:
Emails: Gmail and work emails from Exchange
It is still one of the most used productivity or productivity killing tools available.
As much as I would like it not to be so, good co-operation with Exchange servers is a must.
I can live without Exchange server’s address book.
Within Sailfish I wish to see the ability to download attachments to the phone filesystem – as well as send files as attachments straight from the filesystem. It makes life so much easier, when you can have your documents with you.
Reading documents: PDF, Office formats
This is a natural extension to the first one.
If I have my documents with me on a memory card or via Dropbox, GoogleDrive or emails — I need to be able to read them too.
Calendar ( sync with Exchange & Google )
Calendar is the second productivity tool.
Synchronising the device with Exchange and for personal needs with Google is a must.
Otherwise I am not able to use the device as my main mobile device.
I need a decent / good camera to capture all sorts of moments. Speed from hibernation to taking a picture should be good, but the picture quality is more important.
In the beginning there is no need for tight integration into sharing services – especially if Android Flickr application and others work as supposed to.
Music / Media-player – with relevantly convenient way to bring playlists / media from iTunes / Computer
A decent media player is a must.
I don’t cry if there is no simple way to bring playlists from iTunes from the beginning. I’ll write — if it does not already exist – a converter and file copier to transform and transfer files + playlists to a specific location and format, if needed.
I’ll be annoyed if the usability of the player is bad.
I’ll be also annoyed if the headset remote functionality is missing, as during the runs and otherwise the phone will stay in a pouch or pocket, while I have earbuds on and the remote easily accessible.
Internet connection tethering to my Macbook Air
No need to explain.
Calls and SMS
It still should be also a phone. If the address book does not synchronise with Exchange, it is needed to have a way to import current contacts otherwise easily.
Batterylife for the whole day
This is something where I hope that Jolla will be better than the competition – as people behind Jolla should have already paid their dues regarding mobile development. Additionally user replaceable battery is a good thing for longer trips without access to the grid.
That is about it.
I am happy with very little, at least in the beginning.
For me it is way more important to have above features working perfectly from the start than multiple bells and whistles that I do not need, want or use in any way. Naturally that would mean that Jolla would be a rather limited smartphone from the start, relying on Android-emulation to provide bells and whistles from the large existing ecosystem and the promise of the new Sailfish ecosystem.
Being a second class Android-phone through an emulator is not a sexy position to be, but it is something you can build on top of — if the native core functionality is excellent from the start, and gets then updated in faster release cycles than competition does.
There is promise and possibilities with Jolla, but at the moment they are all related to the limitless options available in the imagination as Jolla Ltd. has not really yet showed anything more concrete than sneak peaks. Some fanboys are discussing impossible as well as ridiculous things on community forums and normal consumers who have their geeky sides too — but are still more consumers — are left to wait and hope for the best.
I continue keeping my fingers crossed for Jolla and hope that they get a great phone to the market and succeed.
However if Jolla does not come through, fails on build quality, lacks some of those said must have features — there are luckily options in the marketplace for a user like me.
I can still continue in the iOS ecosystem, jump into the Windows Phone bandwagon with the Lumia 1020 monster camera or see what kind of value Samsung will drive into the Android devices next.
Let us see what the end of the year and Jolla release will bring.