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Firefox OS 1.3 Arrives: Dual SIM Support, Continuous Autofocus, Graphics Boost

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the onward-and-upward dept.

Mozilla 68

An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today released Firefox OS version 1.3 to its partners for implementing in their smartphones. There are many new features for both users and developers, and the first phone to feature them is the ZTE Open C, which is available for sale as of today on eBay. First and foremost, Firefox OS users can expect dual-SIM dual-standby (DSDS) support, which gives you two lines on compatible phones, a popular feature in emerging markets. DSDS lets dual-SIM devices individually manage two different SIMs for calling, texting, or data through the 'SIM Manager' interface."

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interknot makes compelling case for media mongrels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46962421)

deceptive hypenosys reigns us http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=corpirate+media+deception+weather+wmd

Oh Joy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46962437)

Oh Joy. Just what I have been waiting for. Pass the burbon.

Can this be used for prank phone calls? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46962513)

I would like to be able to make untraceable prank calls, where I can call anyone and have the phone number show up as whatever number I choose. Or not show up at all - for things like prank calls or ransom demands or confidentail informant. I would like this feature to be able to turned on or off. In software, not with a hardware switch. This is a very important feature for me.

Re:Can this be used for prank phone calls? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 months ago | (#46962541)

prepaid sim can get you some of that.

Re:Can this be used for prank phone calls? (1)

tehdely (690619) | about 3 months ago | (#46962599)

You really missed the boat on that. Before 2010's "Truth in Caller ID" act, and during the heyday of fly-by-night mom-and-pop VoIP telcos, you could call pretty much anybody, pretending to be anybody, and more or less get away with it. These days I whould just be content with listening to old Longmont Potion Castle LPs.

Re:Can this be used for prank phone calls? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#46967255)

I would like to be able to make untraceable prank calls, where I can call anyone and have the phone number show up as whatever number I choose. Or not show up at all - for things like prank calls or ransom demands or confidentail informant. I would like this feature to be able to turned on or off. In software, not with a hardware switch. This is a very important feature for me.

You can already do that. Sign up for just about any online voip service out there and all of this is very easy. How do you think the telemarketers pull it off?

Dual SIm's Why? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46962533)

With Google Voice, skype, Takatone, and the like (not to mention call forwarding), you can already have multiple lines ring on the same single smartphone in your pocket.

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (4, Insightful)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | about 3 months ago | (#46962573)

company phone & personal phone?

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46962641)

Mod parent up. Smart phones won't be smart to me until they can support any number of phone numbers, and do it well. I have a lot of different projects going on, with different numbers, and I don't want multiple devices.

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#46963121)

You can support at least two numbers using Google Voice, your own number and your GV number.

Also, dual SIM phones are readily available, so that ups you to four numbers, if you use GV.

Five numbers is going to require some sort of VoiP solution on the device as well.

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (2)

jopsen (885607) | about 3 months ago | (#46963803)

Indeed, or one for each country... Especially when travelling around in Europe... Or living in the US, but still have a Danish phone number and simcard I want to maintain :)

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46964303)

...or Girlfriend and Wife

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46966211)

company phone & personal phone?

Indeed. Personal and company phone on one single device. I hated having to carry two devices in my pockets. Hence, I bought a dual-SIM Android. Unfortunately, these devices are rather low-end. I'd look forward to a high-end Samsung, Sony or HTC phone that supports dual-SIM.

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46962605)

Because there exist places where data plans are expensive and voice plans are selectively cheap. Say you regularly call people on two different carriers, both of which offer cheap plans with a "free minutes for calls between our customers" feature. Or you found one carrier with cheap data, but want to make your voice calls on another...

Basically it's for those messy markets with some actual competition. So, not North America.

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (2)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#46962721)

One very simple use case is to have one personal number and one work/professional number. If in a country that has cheap voice plans (and free SMS), especially if it's no longer cheap only when calling within a network, then you can have them both for less than a single plan would cost in the US.
If you can afford a data plan, you can have one I suppose without needing two of them.

If you live near a border or otherwise cross one often, that's another case where it makes sense to have two SIMs. Else you would need two phones or remove battery and swap SIM every time.

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (4, Informative)

Frohboy (78614) | about 3 months ago | (#46962919)

Mod parent up

Having lived in an emerging market (Romania) for six years, I knew several people who would carry around multiple feature phones, or a smartphone and a feature phone, just so they could use prepaid SIM cards from two different networks, so they could call all of their friends and family "in network".

I was using a prepaid SIM from Orange, and for 5 Euros/month, I had 3000 minutes/month to other Orange numbers and 100 minutes/month to other networks/landlines. As it happens, everyone I wanted to call was on Orange, so I was fine. However, I knew people who would pay 5 Euros/month to Orange, and another 5 Euros/month to Cosmote. For 10 Euros/month, they had effectively unlimited calling to everyone they wanted to call, but needed to carry a second phone (or swap SIMs to call on the correct network).

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (2)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 3 months ago | (#46964105)

Sheesh...and they say cell phone service in the US is bad. Granted I pay more, but with t-mobile, $22 a month lets me call anywhere in the US from anywhere in the US with zero restrictions. I also have unlimited data and texts from anywhere to anywhere in the world (well...anywhere except from cruise ships and a small number of backwater countries I'd never see myself either going to or calling anyways, which is mainly a symptom of these particular areas charging their own embargoes to EVERYBODY, including the locals.)

Add $10 a month and I can make voice calls to some 70+ odd countries unlimited.

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46964365)

Mod parent up!

They're aiming markets in the BRIC countries where doing that is very common.

Re:Dual SIm's Why? (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#46962663)

Google Voice is US only, maybe Canada.
Skype is proprietary and needs data plan.. and you need to pay for placing calls to real phones? That was the original business model at least.

Re: SIP :) (1)

xiando (770382) | about 3 months ago | (#46962957)

You don't need Google Voice or Skype. There are plenty of dirt-cheap SIP providers out there. Cynnagenmod and a few phones with stock Android has a working SIP stack (I know some phones have it disabled, for those there are SIP apps). I personally don't have a SIM-card in my phone anymore. That is mostly to avoid the tracking involved with using those, your personal preferences may vary. I do not get to make phone calls when walking from place to place but I do get to call others who use SIP free and the rest cheap when I am places (almost everyone has a wifi and most local public places also have one, there's even wifi on local busses here).

Re: SIP :) (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 3 months ago | (#46964037)

most local public places also have one, there's even wifi on local busses here

Nice in your city but is that generally true worldwide?

Wifi is ubiquitous these days but (OMG! terrorists) I rarely see open access points. Local coffee shops may offer free wifi but most places I need 3G connectivity.

Re: SIP :) (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#46965815)

There's quite some public and semi-public (needing codes, leeching from ISP customers) wifi where I live but it may be unreliable, may be too slow or disconnect and of course will be plain unavailable if you're not at the right place.
It may work.. But how do you receive calls? Only would work when you connect to access points and have reliable service. So you're uncallable most of the time and rely on others having a real mobile phone so you can call them. But it's an interesting way to deal with the absence of pay phones.

Supported for how long? (1)

gQuigs (913879) | about 3 months ago | (#46962669)

Can anyone show me some doc on how long the Open C will get official updates for?

Jobs a month in May 2014, and jobs on Thursday (-1, Offtopic)

qatar-marketing (3647971) | about 3 months ago | (#46962693)

nic topic

Jobs a month in May 2014, and jobs on Thursday, 01/05/2014

qatar-marketing [blogspot.com]

Micro$oft in Trouble (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 3 months ago | (#46962807)

Wow. Nokisoft limited but *again* decreasing, earned share in western Europe by being the cheapest (its flagship *giggle* phones none existent) is now challenged with a real (I mean unsubsided mass marketed) great value smartphones. I hope Micro$oft the bully fails again with carriers and allows competition against the Android Platform (iOS exists only through the power of baby unicorn farts, and simply a different market). Seriously enough is enough, and Firefox fighting upwards with compelling dual sim technology burnt into the OS impresses with diverse western european cities. Maybe we will get that second ecosystem that everyone...sorry Micro$oft's Marketing is talking about.

Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (4, Interesting)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 3 months ago | (#46962987)

Today we have quad core multi-ghz CPUs with gigabytes of memory and 1080 displays. Having installed Linux from floppies on hardware orders of magnitude less capable is it now really too much to ask to have UI execute from a real non-nerf'd operating system?

Why can't I compile and run whatever software that will run on desktop on my phone?

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46963023)

Why can't you compile and run whatever windows software on your linux? Same reason, different systems.

You're both off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46963359)

You can rewrite and rehook around dependencies from most x86 *nix compatible software to whatever architecture your phone is running as long as you have a compiler and know what you're doing. You can also certainly do the same on Windows software to Linux, the source code maybe being a longer pole in the tent than in the first case. Are you sure you two are at the right news site?

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46963065)

Install from Bill Gates' 3.5" micro soft floppy.

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 3 months ago | (#46963229)

You obviously can't do that because you lack the knowledge.

Meanwhile, others are porting software all the time.

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (3, Insightful)

dos1 (2950945) | about 3 months ago | (#46963275)

Why not? I'm doing that on my Openmoko Neo Freerunner for past 6 years. Same on Nokia N900, OpenPhoenux GTA04 and soon Neo900.

If you choose to buy crippled, locked-down phones, then you're the only one to blame.

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46963467)

lol "Openmoko Neo Freerunner for past 6 years" - and I use my Palm lllc instead! Same functunality really.. minus gsm (2g) part...
but I must give props to Openmoko - they went further then anyone else, and Freerunner was infact a first almost open phone (minus baseband part)

Jmc23 "Meanwhile, others are porting software all the time." blah.. example?
if you talking about cynogen mode or something, you didn't understand what WaffleMonster ment.

WaffleMonster - becasue there is no public/open besaband..
unlike pc hardware, cell phones need "rf service", or they become just computers
and since service part belongs to carriers (cell towers), they basically leave no room for DIY phones..

We can not have open phones because there is a corporate grip on it... hint hint qualcomm...

There is no open baseband that's allowed/would work with cell towers around, leaving no way for your hardware to be a "cell phone"
and in order to make one, you'd have to join the grease-club and by time time you're a member - you'll see no need for an open phone afterall..

we are stuck with large carriers and monopoly manufacturers... because by being in control of baseband thye can do all their stuff like blocking/restricting/spying/deciding who can/can't connect.. anything really....

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46963535)

Because desktops all use IBM PC-compatible instruction sets. Mobile phones use whatever the fuck they want.

Only huge companies want to make software, and they all have contacts at phone manufacturers. Consumers just want to stare and gurgle happily at projectile birds. Please, sir, can I have some more?

Proprietary firmware is bad because [what RMS says] but also because it prevents innovation. Support hardware manufacturers that enable fully–free/open source software stacks.

Or just install Shuttleworth's distro, y'know, whatever.

Please define (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 3 months ago | (#46963681)

In what way is your mobile OS nerf'd? And do you want a mobile OS that takes up 5GB of your root partition for features like projector attachment, .NET support, support for *insert whole graphical library for just one application here* and use cases that 99.99% of us will never use?

What features are you missing on your phone?

Re:Please define (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#46965869)

Funnily, some phones do support output to a projector (via some micro HDMI or MHL thing, perhaps Displayport in the future) and Windows Phone uses .NET - perhaps that not worse than feature phones using Java a decade ago.

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (1)

Teckla (630646) | about 3 months ago | (#46963835)

Why can't I compile and run whatever software that will run on desktop on my phone?

Because that's not a useful feature for 99.9% of the market.

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#46967295)

Why can't I compile and run whatever software that will run on desktop on my phone?

Because that's not a useful feature for 99.9% of the market.

I think you left off about ten 9s in your estimate there.

To the OP: Go buy a RaspberryPI + battery and leave my phone alone. It will safely fit under your neck beard where no one will ever see it.

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 3 months ago | (#46964345)

Because your finger is too fat. No, I'm not insulting you, I'm just pointing out there's a difference between a UI designed for a relatively "accurate" mouse pointer (also with buttons), and one that involves a half inch oval of flesh-covered-bone pushing on glass.

Also, you know, size. As in either the font is going to be tiny, or the fact that the UI is designed for the full height of a 14" (if you're lucky) screen is going to mean you can't see most of any dialog boxes that come up on your 4" touchphone.

What I would like, and regret not seeing ever make the light of day, is that Ubuntu for Android thing. There you can compile your desktop app to run on your phone - it's just to use it, you need to plug a mouse, keyboard, and screen in, so that you have, y'know, a desktop.

Re: Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46966035)

Samsung s-pen devices let you

Re:Tired of crap "mobile" operating systems (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 3 months ago | (#46967041)

That is where the market is heading. It is converging.

True Windows 8 did not get it right, but other MS which sucked like Windows, Windows NT, sql server, IE, VC++, were not overnight successes either. Also X Window managers blew goatballs too when they were new too. Then came XFCE, KDE, and Gnome developed years later. Gnome 3/shell is the first and it will mature too and is heading in the same direction. On the Apple side iOS is really MacOSX tuned for smaller devices, and Android is a mobile version of linux running a mobile stack of software on top in java (according to the courts even).

In 5 years they will all run the same OS and yes the same GUI too once it is more tuned to have desktops appear dynamically on the fly once a keyboard or mouse is detected. Windows 9 is going this route and so will later versions of gnome.

Also the high end Apple and Samsung phones already have these quadcore cpus you speak of and gigs of ram. IN developing countries computers are still mighty expensive and mobile low end phones and tablets running Firefox OS will be appealing when you only take in $500 a month pay.

In 2020 we will not be able to tell the difference of a mobile device or computer except by the screen size. Or the PC will be like the mainframe and die off just like it and be forever niche.

iPhone will support dual-SIM too (2, Funny)

marciot (598356) | about 3 months ago | (#46963171)

Humor has it Apple's next iPhone will support dual-SIM too, but you'll have to buy a dongle that hangs off the lightning port for the extra SIM card.

Why Firefox OS? (3, Insightful)

jez9999 (618189) | about 3 months ago | (#46963413)

I know this seems like a rather basic question, but why did Mozilla decide to create B2G? I mean, "everything is a web app"? So fucking what, does that give every app some more intrinsic value because it has "web" in the title?

The way I see it, they've taken valuable resources away from supporting useful projects like a standalong mail client (Thunderbird) and internet suite (SeaMonkey) and pissed them away developing Yet Another Mobile OS. I'm probably going to go for an Android phone for my next phone. Why would I go with Firefox OS? It's less mature, and I see nothing about its fundamental nature that makes it better than Android.

More "open"? Look at who wrote most of it's specs - it's Mozilla and Google. At the end of the day, if Mozilla stop supporting it, you're screwed. Just like if Google stop supporting Android, you're screwed. Why B2G ever got off the drawing board is a mystery.

Re:Why Firefox OS? (1)

plover (150551) | about 3 months ago | (#46963813)

Worse, it'll probably ship with Firefox 29.

Re:Why Firefox OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46963953)

All jokes aside, the phone OS doesn't run the desktop Firefox UI. That'd be insane. Thus there's no Australis to get all butthurt about.

Re:Why Firefox OS? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46964525)

Useful? Haven't you heard? Your precious desktops are dying out fast. The future is in mobile, specialized devices, and the more competition we have in that OS space the better. Firefox was the OSS browser engine, now it's the OSS mobile OS.

Besides that, if Google stops supporting Android then it's likely that FirefoxOS will just maintain the few bits and pieces they need - which is mostly the Linux kernel and some drivers and firmware software for phones and other mobiles.

I'd also question the sanity of not giving a shit about FirefoxOS just because Android is already there. There was a time when Microsoft was so dominant that the world couldn't picture a need for anything except Windows.

Re:Why Firefox OS? (2)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 3 months ago | (#46965611)

More "open"? Look at who wrote most of it's specs - it's Mozilla and Google. At the end of the day, if Mozilla stop supporting it, you're screwed. Just like if Google stop supporting Android, you're screwed. Why B2G ever got off the drawing board is a mystery.

The code itself is open, contrary to android [arstechnica.com] , and the hardware requirements are much lower (hence, lower cost).

Mozilla XPCOM FF TB & Webmaker better investme (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 months ago | (#46967225)

All true, and a great article. Still, I already bought a couple Kyocera Hydro water-proof cell Android Smartphones for $50 or so each, and hardware costs are falling fast, so it is not clear that OS footprint matters much in the USA, although maybe in Africa and China and India it still does.

That said, Mozilla could instead have focused on its XPCOM technology to ride above the OS in a cross-platform way (somewhat like VIsualWorks Smalltalk or now Qt or some others):
https://developer.mozilla.org/... [mozilla.org]
https://developer.mozilla.org/... [mozilla.org]

And Mozilla could also develop democracy-empowering apps and standards on top of that XPCOM platform for everyone, including ones for collective civic sensemaking and a semantic desktop like I talk about here:
http://www.phibetaiota.net/201... [phibetaiota.net]

If I was leading Mozilla, that is what I would have focused more on. Firefox OS on a Smartphone or elsewhere is a great idea in theory, but seems like a nonstarter in practice as far as *extensive* adoption in the Western world (even if I myself might buy a phone with Firefox OS on it preferentially for FOSS and privacy reasons). Google succeeded against iOS with mobile phones from nothing to 80% Smartphone market share in a few years because Google had deep pockets and a lot of good will at the time and was at the beginning of an exponentially growing marketplace. Mozilla may have the good will (although not at the scale Google had then among consumers) but it does not have the deep pockets. It also faces an entrenched mobile Smartphone landscape at this point with Android. Plus it does not have a compelling broad service offering like Google had with search and gmail to go with the phone (so people will just use Firefox OS to use Google Search, Gmail and Maps?). What money Mozilla has is almost entirely coming from Google (about a billion dollars total over the last few years), where only about a million a year is in individual donations. While there is a lot a few sharp developers could do if funded with even just a million dollars in donations a year, if Google pulls the plug on Mozilla's funding if Firefox OS were to even hint of being a successor for any other reason, where does that leave Firefox OS? Probably not stuff I should be saying in public given I just applied for a "Software Engineer, Platform" job at Mozilla, but what the hey. :-)
http://careers.mozilla.org/en-... [mozilla.org]

I love the Mozilla mission of FOSS software to support open standards (with the exception I feel Mozilla made a big mistake on not backing WebSQL built on SQLite as a defacto standard). However, getting people to *install* anything as an uphill battle, let alone buy anything. That's a big reason web-browser-hosted software is winning over the desktop and why I'm moving more of what I do in that direction. Even Alan Kay and Dan Ingalls moved that way with the "Lively Kernel" because they could not get many people to download Squeak. And getting people to install a full OS is an even bigger battle. Plus there are other groups making alternative phone platforms (Ubuntu, Android forks, WebOS from HP, more). So, given limited funding available for FOSS web stuff, and also given Mozilla has other great initiatives worthy of more support including "Webmaker," it is sad to see so much Mozilla resources and mental bandwidth go into something like Firefox OS that seems unlikely to gain much traction given the computing landscape we now have. And instead, the core Mozilla applications like Firefox and Thunderbird languish relatively speaking as far as bug fixes and innovation. The biggest change just recently with Firefox is it looks more like Chrome... As a "lazy" developer, what I *want* is a platform where I can really write code once and deploy everywhere in every format. XPCOM offers that in theory, and so is of great interest to me and other developers. Firefox OS is instead, like OLPC's Sugar platform, just one more tiny fragment to worry about.

But worse, because of the current focus on Firefox OS which seems to be soaking up so much of the attention of everyone in Mozilla, Mozilla is missing the boat on being what we really need. That is an organization doing open R&D on new standards, making new FOSS implementations on new ideas, pushing the semantic web envelope like towards a semantic desktop, and improving privacy by making it easier to run local HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3 apps with local data. Some place like a FOSS-only IBM Research motivated by ideals of global community instead of private profit. Granted we have some places like that such as the World Wide Web Foundation, but we could use more, especially one with extensive software development capabilities:
http://webfoundation.org/about... [webfoundation.org]
"The World Wide Web Foundation was established in 2009 by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee to tackle the fundamental obstacles to realizing his vision of an open Web available, usable, and valuable for everyone. The Web is the most powerful tool for communication in the history of humanity, creating the potential for all people to participate in building a more peaceful and equitable world. However, only a small minority of people â" mainly urban, male, and affluent â" are part of the Webâ(TM)s global conversation. Despite the recent surge in mobile internet access, nearly two-thirds of the worldâ(TM)s people (mostly in the developing world) are still not connected at all. And once connected, what people are able to do on and with the Web is increasingly threatened by government controls, as well as by certain commercial practices. We seek to establish the open Web as a global public good and a basic right, ensuring that everyone can access and use it freely."

Instead of Mozilla focusing on XPCOM and enhancing Firefox and Thunderbird and promoting Webmaker more, I have a feeling this bug report I recently filed regarding Firefox and IndexedDB is not going to be addressed in a timely fashion (as one example of what I'm talking about, given it is a bug that makes it hard to do local web apps with Firefox):
"Bug 1005634 - IndexedDB same-origin policy implementation for local files with query string"
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/s... [mozilla.org]

To be clear, I feel the Firefox OS idea built around open source and open standards is a great concept in theory. I loved the idea of Squeak Smalltalk booting straight from hardware too. My concern is seeing Firefox and Thunderbird suffer relative to what they have been becoming -- which is an amazing cross-platform environments for obtaining and managing information and communicating it with others built on standards and FOSS code. I'd rather see improvements happen in that space than see Mozilla just go next-to-nowhere in the full-stack mobile space. While it is true that mobile is a big thing (although the desktop remains important), Mozilla could have instead make more democratically-oriented privacy-enhancing local-control-expanding FOSS apps on the Mozilla XPCOM platform and in that way build something better on top of Android as well as on top of the desktop. At that point, the underlying OS aspects would not matter much because XPCOM could be ported to anywhere including whatever will show up in a few years ("smart dust" OS maybe?).

It is easy to quibble from the sidelines about the direction Mozilla took with limited resources, and my criticism may be misguided perhaps, not seeing everything Mozilla leaders were seeing at the time. So, I'm certainly open to changing my mind on Firefox OS. Still, and incrementally better Mozilla XPCOM and some new democratic semantic apps could put Mozilla's privacy and Webmaker vision and code everywhere from all desktops to all smartphones to all smart TVs to all wearables and maybe most embedded systems including in cars by becoming the platform on *top* of everything already out there. But even the biggest realistically imaginable success of Firefox OS just puts Mozilla *underneath* the Google apps on a few hundred million inexpensive smartphones. Firefox OS in that sense could be a win for FOSS to some extent, to be sure, just not as big a win as XPCOM plus democratic Webmaker apps could be.

But in any case, probably the biggest issue is that there is not enough research funding devoted by supposedly democratic governments to a democratic web and democratic desktop and democratic phone. The US government as a supposed world-leading democracy should IMHO be giving out many billions of dollars a year to fund democratic FOSS information technology. Then it would not be a matter of only doing one of many good projects, or a matter of Mozilla holding back for fear of biting the commercially-motivated hand that feeds it (even if it is a complex relationship).
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ti... [forbes.com]

Or as an alternative, with a basic income in the USA, then more software developers could afford to choose to work on the next FOSS democratic app, like Linus had the time to work on Linux because of generous support by state and parents in Finland.

Re:Mozilla XPCOM FF TB & Webmaker better inves (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 months ago | (#46997893)

Well as a followup, I got a generic email yesterday from Mozilla saying I did not get the Mozilla "Software Engineer, Platform" job. Fast turn-around considering I applied last week -- probably not related to this post saying Firefox the app was more import than Firefox OS, but I'll never know? Kind of sad, as it can be hard to find well-paying mostly-work-from-home gigs -- especially doing righteous and interesting non-profit-y stuff like Mozilla does. Such jobs are very few and far between. I felt the same way when I applied to Mozilla about three years ago for a Thunderbird support job and did not get it -- I said then I'd like to turn Thunderbird into a social semantic desktop platform eventually (which I still think is a good idea). Firefox and Thunderbird are tools I've used every day for over a decade and it would have been nice to make them even better while still being able to pay the mortgage and feed my family. Well, at least it is good to know someone else will get such a worthwhile opportunity; I hope that person makes the most of it.

Re:Mozilla XPCOM FF TB & Webmaker better inves (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 3 months ago | (#47008767)

I'd like to think it's unrelated to this post; especially considering what Mozilla stands for.

Re:Mozilla XPCOM FF TB & Webmaker better inves (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 3 months ago | (#47008759)

All true, and a great article. Still, I already bought a couple Kyocera Hydro water-proof cell Android Smartphones for $50 or so each, and hardware costs are falling fast, so it is not clear that OS footprint matters much in the USA, although maybe in Africa and China and India it still does.

Great! So these lower costs will also reflect on Mozilla's device. Won't you be glad the day they mass-produce these and they cost less than 50USD? (by the way, 50USD can be a few days or even a week's salary in some places of the world).

That said, Mozilla could instead have focused on its XPCOM technology to ride above the OS in a cross-platform way (somewhat like VIsualWorks Smalltalk or now Qt or some others):
https://developer.mozilla.org/... [mozilla.org]
https://developer.mozilla.org/... [mozilla.org]

And Mozilla could also develop democracy-empowering apps and standards on top of that XPCOM platform for everyone, including ones for collective civic sensemaking and a semantic desktop like I talk about here:
http://www.phibetaiota.net/201... [phibetaiota.net]

If I was leading Mozilla, that is what I would have focused more on. Firefox OS on a Smartphone or elsewhere is a great idea in theory, but seems like a nonstarter in practice as far as *extensive* adoption in the Western world (even if I myself might buy a phone with Firefox OS on it preferentially for FOSS and privacy reasons).

That's why they're not targeting traditional western markets, but emerging and underdeveloped ones.

Google succeeded against iOS with mobile phones from nothing to 80% Smartphone market share in a few years because Google had deep pockets and a lot of good will at the time and was at the beginning of an exponentially growing marketplace. Mozilla may have the good will (although not at the scale Google had then among consumers) but it does not have the deep pockets. It also faces an entrenched mobile Smartphone landscape at this point with Android. Plus it does not have a compelling broad service offering like Google had with search and gmail to go with the phone

That's your prespective. A lot of peope will see if from the other end "oh, good, it's not tied to google's services and I can use my existing email accounts and stuff".

What money Mozilla has is almost entirely coming from Google (about a billion dollars total over the last few years), where only about a million a year is in individual donations. While there is a lot a few sharp developers could do if funded with even just a million dollars in donations a year, if Google pulls the plug on Mozilla's funding if Firefox OS were to even hint of being a successor for any other reason, where does that leave Firefox OS? Probably not stuff I should be saying in public given I just applied for a "Software Engineer, Platform" job at Mozilla, but what the hey. :-)
http://careers.mozilla.org/en-... [mozilla.org]

I love the Mozilla mission of FOSS software to support open standards (with the exception I feel Mozilla made a big mistake on not backing WebSQL built on SQLite as a defacto standard). However, getting people to *install* anything as an uphill battle, let alone buy anything.

Yes, getting users to install stuff is imposible (unless it's virus.exe). I'm not certain they'll succeddin android-dominated markets, and least not in the short run. But there's plenty of other markets.

That's a big reason web-browser-hosted software is winning over the desktop and why I'm moving more of what I do in that direction. Even Alan Kay and Dan Ingalls moved that way with the "Lively Kernel" because they could not get many people to download Squeak. And getting people to install a full OS is an even bigger battle. Plus there are other groups making alternative phone platforms (Ubuntu, Android forks, WebOS from HP, more). So, given limited funding available for FOSS web stuff, and also given Mozilla has other great initiatives worthy of more support including "Webmaker," it is sad to see so much Mozilla resources and mental bandwidth go into something like Firefox OS that seems unlikely to gain much traction given the computing landscape we now have. And instead, the core Mozilla applications like Firefox and Thunderbird languish relatively speaking as far as bug fixes and innovation. The biggest change just recently with Firefox is it looks more like Chrome... As a "lazy" developer, what I *want* is a platform where I can really write code once and deploy everywhere in every format. XPCOM offers that in theory, and so is of great interest to me and other developers. Firefox OS is instead, like OLPC's Sugar platform, just one more tiny fragment to worry about.

But worse, because of the current focus on Firefox OS which seems to be soaking up so much of the attention of everyone in Mozilla, Mozilla is missing the boat on being what we really need. That is an organization doing open R&D on new standards, making new FOSS implementations on new ideas, pushing the semantic web envelope like towards a semantic desktop, and improving privacy by making it easier to run local HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3 apps with local data. Some place like a FOSS-only IBM Research motivated by ideals of global community instead of private profit. Granted we have some places like that such as the World Wide Web Foundation, but we could use more, especially one with extensive software development capabilities:
http://webfoundation.org/about... [webfoundation.org]
"The World Wide Web Foundation was established in 2009 by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee to tackle the fundamental obstacles to realizing his vision of an open Web available, usable, and valuable for everyone. The Web is the most powerful tool for communication in the history of humanity, creating the potential for all people to participate in building a more peaceful and equitable world. However, only a small minority of people â" mainly urban, male, and affluent â" are part of the Webâ(TM)s global conversation. Despite the recent surge in mobile internet access, nearly two-thirds of the worldâ(TM)s people (mostly in the developing world) are still not connected at all. And once connected, what people are able to do on and with the Web is increasingly threatened by government controls, as well as by certain commercial practices. We seek to establish the open Web as a global public good and a basic right, ensuring that everyone can access and use it freely."

Instead of Mozilla focusing on XPCOM and enhancing Firefox and Thunderbird and promoting Webmaker more, I have a feeling this bug report I recently filed regarding Firefox and IndexedDB is not going to be addressed in a timely fashion (as one example of what I'm talking about, given it is a bug that makes it hard to do local web apps with Firefox):
"Bug 1005634 - IndexedDB same-origin policy implementation for local files with query string"
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/s... [mozilla.org]

To be clear, I feel the Firefox OS idea built around open source and open standards is a great concept in theory. I loved the idea of Squeak Smalltalk booting straight from hardware too. My concern is seeing Firefox and Thunderbird suffer relative to what they have been becoming -- which is an amazing cross-platform environments for obtaining and managing information and communicating it with others built on standards and FOSS code. I'd rather see improvements happen in that space than see Mozilla just go next-to-nowhere in the full-stack mobile space. While it is true that mobile is a big thing (although the desktop remains important), Mozilla could have instead make more democratically-oriented privacy-enhancing local-control-expanding FOSS apps on the Mozilla XPCOM platform and in that way build something better on top of Android as well as on top of the desktop. At that point, the underlying OS aspects would not matter much because XPCOM could be ported to anywhere including whatever will show up in a few years ("smart dust" OS maybe?).

It is easy to quibble from the sidelines about the direction Mozilla took with limited resources, and my criticism may be misguided perhaps, not seeing everything Mozilla leaders were seeing at the time. So, I'm certainly open to changing my mind on Firefox OS. Still, and incrementally better Mozilla XPCOM and some new democratic semantic apps could put Mozilla's privacy and Webmaker vision and code everywhere from all desktops to all smartphones to all smart TVs to all wearables and maybe most embedded systems including in cars by becoming the platform on *top* of everything already out there. But even the biggest realistically imaginable success of Firefox OS just puts Mozilla *underneath* the Google apps on a few hundred million inexpensive smartphones. Firefox OS in that sense could be a win for FOSS to some extent, to be sure, just not as big a win as XPCOM plus democratic Webmaker apps could be.

But in any case, probably the biggest issue is that there is not enough research funding devoted by supposedly democratic governments to a democratic web and democratic desktop and democratic phone. The US government as a supposed world-leading democracy should IMHO be giving out many billions of dollars a year to fund democratic FOSS information technology.

"supposed" is the key word in that sentence.

Then it would not be a matter of only doing one of many good projects, or a matter of Mozilla holding back for fear of biting the commercially-motivated hand that feeds it (even if it is a complex relationship).
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ti... [forbes.com]

Or as an alternative, with a basic income in the USA, then more software developers could afford to choose to work on the next FOSS democratic app, like Linus had the time to work on Linux because of generous support by state and parents in Finland.

Recycled phones are cheaper... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 months ago | (#47014345)

Thanks for the reply to this and my other in this thread. Yes, "supposed" was intentional. :-) My point about Google's service offerings and Android was not to express a preference, just to point out why Google's Android had an edge in adoption. I'd rather use services that spy/track/advertise less, even if you still have to assume for prudence that all communications are logged and decryptable.

And for my other comment and your reply, I read on Glassdoor a lot of people inside Mozilla are unhappy with the current direction anyway, so agreeing with them could have been a plus, who knows. :-)
http://www.glassdoor.com/Revie... [glassdoor.com]
"Con: "And if you work in Firefox OS expect no understanding of what's happening and when" in 3 reviews"
And: "Most of the org is in service to Firefox OS - this is necessary given the company's direction, but sucks resources from other projects." And: "They're now spending $100m/yr on developers. It's very hard to see what that's achieving. Seems as if top talent is wasting its time there compared to what's being achieved at Google, Apple and others. One reason is massive technical debt and an insane codebase."

To respond to your points on cost and underserved markets, it sounds like you know a lot about Mozilla. I won't disagree that their strategy is plausible. However, I've seen a similar approach not work our well for the OLPC as an entire new software ecosystem, so I remain skeptical. If even Microsoft can't succeed in the smart phone market, is Mozilla likely to?

Here were some comments I wrote about five years ago on the OLPC project as a software developer who participated in the Give-One-Get-One program (getting two and giving two):
http://p2pfoundation.net/backu... [p2pfoundation.net]
"Imagine, Google and Verizon could even make a promise now to customers -- buy your Droid through Verizon, and in two years, if you continue your cell phone plan, we will give you the latest Droid version and if you return the old one to a Verizon store, we'll send it to materially poor kids loaded with educational software that teaches them how to read, write, and do math. And with bluetooth, and WiFi, the Droid could even have some software that works along the lines that Sugar aspired to do, with kids collaborating together. What a deal -- and it might greatly boost current sales. :-) Maybe someone should forward this note to someone they know at Google or Verizon? :-) Seriously, what US teacher would not buy a Droid over an iPhone knowing it was going to teach some poor kid to read in two years? (Of course, Apple might eventually have to follow suit. :-) And that gives me and the rest of the free software developer world two years to write all that free software for those kids. :-) "

As I suggest there, hand-me-down phones (perhaps with new batteries) may well be much cheaper than anything else for emerging markets. And those phones run Android plus some other OSes. I also think it unlikely Firefox will meet any special low-power goals or cost goals that Android phones would not meet. Most apps are not that performance critical so Java on Android is good enough, and Java will probably be more power efficient than JavaScript in Firefox OS. So where is the power savings or other costs savings really going to come from? I like ideas like "Design For The Other 90%", but it is still hard to beat a free Android phone given Moore's law and continued falling prices. The Kyocera Hydro is now US$30 on Amazon. It is better than probably any Android phone from 2009 when I wrote the above -- especially the G1 Android Phone I got as an Android developer which dies eight months later. In another couple years that same Hydro phone might be US$20 or less in the USA. And it would probably be already much cheaper now if purchased in bulk by a nation. Is it really worth it to people in other countries, even materially poor ones, to try to use some whole new *unproven* OS with next-to-no apps to save some money on a phone? Again, if money matters, it is hard to beat cheap recycled hand-me-downs. And if pride/status matters, which it does, Android will still be popular because it is popular elsewhere. If number of free apps matter, again Android wins.

For me, as an analogy, it just did not seem worth it to make Sugar-specific apps for the OLPC when I could work towards general stuff (like in HTML/JavaScript or Android/Java) that a thousand times more people could use. Still, Firefox has long had a much bigger user base than Sugar ever had, so the comparison is not exact.

Developers only have so much time and attention. Just ask Microsoft whose phone platform does not have many apps. Unless you can get people in developing markets to do the programming themselves, which is not unreasonable at least for paid apps, you have to expect most apps will be made first for Western markets and for Android and the major browsers as web apps or extensions.

Still, maybe that will all change with Firefox OS. I can hope so. But as with my bug report, I am trying (and so far failing) to get Mozilla Firefox to support local applications well. Mozilla claims privacy is a top priority, but has seemingly failed to emphasize local apps as well as Google Chrome has (granted, Chrome achieves that by not restricting security for local apps as much as Mozilla, but as in the bug report, Mozilla goes too far the other way to make local web pages with different query strings be different security domains if launched from bookmarks). Being able to run local apps well is maybe one of the best ways of ensuring internet privacy. I was glad to see local apps mentioned in that job posting, which I found especially attractive about it, so we can be hopeful that local apps issue will be eventually addressed if by someone else. Having spent the past about 2.5 years supporting a huge C++/Tcl codebase burdened with technical debt (and a Java derivative I've helped port), I guess I can feel a bit relieved the underlying Mozilla C++ codebase which sounds and looks equally big and burdened will remain someone else's problem and I can just build on top of it -- to put a happy face on a sadly missed opportunity to do a lot of good.

Sill, WebOS (previously from HP/Palm) is already out there for years and is moving into the TV market. So there is more fragmentation there for developers. Given WebOS is open source and powered by HTML and JavaScript, why did Mozilla not pick up WebOS and improve it and/or add XUL support to it to consolidate the industry instead of fragment it more?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]
https://developer.palm.com/con... [palm.com]

It also seems to me that if Mozilla really cared about booting to the web they would do things like support custom builds of ChromeOS with Firefox that I could easily install on my Chromebook. :-)

When I think what a billion dollars over the past few years could have bought in terms of free software for the world, somehow I remain unimpressed by what Mozilla has delivered recently (including falling market share, sadly) -- the same as in that Glassdoor comment cited above. Again, I hope I am proven completely wrong in this and am forced to eat my words in a couple of years and acknowledge a huge success of Firefox OS and related efforts. I wish I could have said the same about Sugar and OLPC, which I can still, to be positive, credit with in-a-sense providing a proof of concept for the Samsung Chromebook I write this on. Even if I predicted the $100 laptop too in 2000 in this post: :-)
http://www.dougengelbart.org/c... [dougengelbart.org]

We'll see. But I really hope Mozilla after FIrefox OS is established (or not), that Mozilla can get back to improving Thunderbird and Firefox as apps, and hopefully in unexpectedly magnificent ways that provide leadership for the web.

Kyocera Hydro 1/3 cost of ZTE Open C (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 months ago | (#47014643)

And similar specs. The waterproof Kyocera Hydro is US$29.64 right now with free Prime shipping on Amazon for the Kyocera (carrier locked though, but WiFi works fine; unfortunately not sunlight readable though) versus US$99.00 (and free shipping) for the ZTE Open C. The Hydro is three times cheaper than the Firefox OS device. The ZTE Open C has slightly better hardware specs though and is not locked to a carrier given the SIM card slots.
http://www.amazon.com/Kyocera-... [amazon.com]
https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/... [mozilla.org]

So I guess I don't see where there are any cost of hardware advantages to this first offering with Firefox OS. Maybe there will be more to come? It's true you can only run that Kyocera on Boost Mobile, but WiFi works fine even without a plan. I don't know if that phone is carrier subsidized to any degree. I bought three Hydros (one a bit better) for developer testing for writing networked Android apps. I've paid for a few days of phone service for one of them mostly as a test; I have no plans on activating the other two as phones. I doubt those are subsidized much if at all, but I have no proof of that other than the fact than anyone can buy them and just use them as WiFi only devices.

I see multiple unlocked Android phones on Amazon for about US$100:
http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sel... [amazon.com]

Anyway, just thought more about your point on cost... Firefox OS is currently more expensive than low-end Android. So the (one billion Mozilla/Google US dollars later) question is, how fast will that change?

Even if Firefox OS was better than Android (still to be seen other than for privacy), it would still face the same uphill adoption of, say, FireWire/Thunderbolt vs. USB1/2/3.

Also for development/testing/networking purposes I bought a ~$120 Android OLPC XO tablet that comes pre-loaded with educational software:
http://www.amazon.com/XO-7-inc... [amazon.com]

In a few years, those prices will continue to fall. It's much more pleasant to browse the web on that Android tablet than on an Android phone. I'm not convinced a Firefox OS tablet is going to beat that price anytime soon -- even if it might have privacy benefits.

Re:Kyocera Hydro 1/3 cost of ZTE Open C (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 3 months ago | (#47015209)

And similar specs. The waterproof Kyocera Hydro is US$29.64 right now with free Prime shipping on Amazon for the Kyocera (carrier locked though, but WiFi works fine; unfortunately not sunlight readable though) versus US$99.00 (and free shipping) for the ZTE Open C.

If it's carrier locked, then US$29.64 is not the real price, but just the first payment.

The Hydro is three times cheaper than the Firefox OS device. The ZTE Open C has slightly better hardware specs though and is not locked to a carrier given the SIM card slots.
http://www.amazon.com/Kyocera-... [amazon.com]
https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/... [mozilla.org]

So I guess I don't see where there are any cost of hardware advantages to this first offering with Firefox OS. Maybe there will be more to come?

Indeed, you can't expect the first batch to compete in producution costs with those other phones who're way ahead in terms of logistics, markets, etc.

It's true you can only run that Kyocera on Boost Mobile, but WiFi works fine even without a plan. I don't know if that phone is carrier subsidized to any degree. I bought three Hydros (one a bit better) for developer testing for writing networked Android apps. I've paid for a few days of phone service for one of them mostly as a test; I have no plans on activating the other two as phones. I doubt those are subsidized much if at all, but I have no proof of that other than the fact than anyone can buy them and just use them as WiFi only devices.

I see multiple unlocked Android phones on Amazon for about US$100:
http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sel... [amazon.com]

Anyway, just thought more about your point on cost... Firefox OS is currently more expensive than low-end Android. So the (one billion Mozilla/Google US dollars later) question is, how fast will that change?

Even if Firefox OS was better than Android (still to be seen other than for privacy), it would still face the same uphill adoption of, say, FireWire/Thunderbolt vs. USB1/2/3.

Also for development/testing/networking purposes I bought a ~$120 Android OLPC XO tablet that comes pre-loaded with educational software:
http://www.amazon.com/XO-7-inc... [amazon.com]

In a few years, those prices will continue to fall. It's much more pleasant to browse the web on that Android tablet than on an Android phone. I'm not convinced a Firefox OS tablet is going to beat that price anytime soon -- even if it might have privacy benefits.

Again, the very first device can't be expected to compete in price like that, given that their competition already has a strong market foothold. I expect (hope) that this will change as the scenario evolves.

Cheap smart phones to upset industry (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 months ago | (#47031527)

http://mobile.slashdot.org/sto... [slashdot.org]

That reference is to link this to a broader discussion. It's true the $30 Kyocera Hydro phone from Amazon is only for Boost Mobile -- but you don't need to activate it or sign a contract to buy it. If you use it as WiFi only, that is all you pay. One of the first apps we installed was a work in progress for disaster relief agencies and others called Serval Mesh which does direct phone-to-phone WiFi.
http://www.servalproject.org/ [servalproject.org]
"Simply put, Serval is a telecommunications system comprised of at least two mobile phones that are able to work outside of regular mobile phone tower range due thanks to the Serval App and Serval Mesh. "

So, I think the low US$30 cost for the Hydro from Amazon shows what is possible. And that new Slashdot article sounds like an exploration of it. This is a broad trend related to Moore's law that I (and many others) have been talking about for years.

More by me on that from 2000:
"[unrev-II] Singularity in twenty to forty years?"
http://www.dougengelbart.org/c... [dougengelbart.org]
" Commtech -- Twenty years to ubiquitous cheap wireless communications
    Source: This is already happening now with cell phones, but needs time to percolate throughout the world. "

Or more recently from 2008:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/post... [pdfernhout.net]
"Wikipedia. GNU/Linux. WordNet. Google. These things were not on the visible horizon to most of us even as little as twenty years ago. Now they have remade huge aspects of how we live. Are these free-to-the-user informational products and services all there is to be on the internet or are they the tip of a metaphorical iceberg of free stuff and free services that is heading our way? Or even, via projects like the RepRap 3D printer under development, are free physical objects someday heading into our homes? If a "post-scarcity" iceberg is coming, are our older scarcity-oriented social institutions prepared to survive it? Or like the Titanic, will these social institutions sink once the full force of the iceberg contacts them? And will they start taking on water even if just dinged by little chunks of sea ice like the cheap $100 laptops that are ahead of the main iceberg?"

I suggest in that one that the current cost of Princeton University hoarding its endowment is that it could have bought $100 OLPC-like computers for a couple hundred million poor families (assume five people each, for the bottom billion) in the world to give them access to education via the internet (like via Khan Academy). Or you could now buy Hydro phones for a the bottom billion families and pre-load them with WIkipeida. That shows how much the socio-economic landscape revolving around knowledge and privilege has changed given the playing out of Moore's law.

So, with or without Firefox OS, these trends are happening. What is frustrating about this is to see what is possible materially, but then see out socio-economic processes shaping that into something so much less than it could be (by increasing the rich-poor divide by always choosing the design that better supports central control with a gatekeeper who can monetize it). But that is also why it is so frustrating to see Mozilla with an idealistically better mission get a billion dollars recently and then so far have so little to show for it (other than a "me too" version of Android and WebOS) -- while also letting innovation in Thunderbird and Firefox seemingly grind to a halt.

As others have said, if you want to free Android users, you need to make a good suite of free apps and services, and even that is not enough because the phone carriers control the lowest layer of connection. Firefox OS by itself does not solve that problem. And it still leaves Android users locked up -- and if the Western world remains locked up, that is likely to spill over to the rest of the world. And we are going to get dirt cheap phones soon in any case. So, I still feel there was a missed opportunity here -- even as I can wish Firefox OS the best luck in the world.

Re:Why Firefox OS? (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#46965983)

Why do we need an OS at all on a phone? Dumbphones work well with a simple firmware.
I don't really want a phone with an OS. Most smartphones are barely usable because they're touchscreen based, and they need a PC and cable to flash them.
Firefox OS gives the base stuff and a browser. Maybe that's fake simplicity since all the stuff is moved to an extremely complex browser. But the browser needed to be there anyway.

Re:Why Firefox OS? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 3 months ago | (#46966051)

To avoid market fragmentation which behoves a company to write an iOS client in objective-C, an Android client in Java, a Blackbery client with Qt and a WP8 client in c#.

Why not just target mobile web? Well because webapps traditionally lack the polish that native toolkits provide such as OS and hardware integration.

So Mozilla are pushing 'native' standards through the wc3 for Firefox Mobile and b2g is the test bed OS.

Re:Why Firefox OS? (1)

BZ (40346) | about 3 months ago | (#46977025)

Mozilla decided to create B2G for several reasons, but one of them is because most of the world's population in the near future will be accessing the internet from a phone or _maybe_ a tablet, not a full-on laptop or desktop. And people using phones or tablets don't install non-default web browsers, statistically speaking, not least because storage is pretty limited on phones, so if Mozilla wanted to be in the market at all it needed to be shipping the default browser on a phone people would use.

There was also the reason of wanting a phone/tablet marketplace without vendor lock-in, which requires apps to be portable between phones from different vendors. That's where web apps come in. And yes, apps that you can move to your new phone even if you get it from a different manufacturer are intrinsically more valuable than apps that you lose if you move from iOS to Android or vice versa.

As for why you'd go for Firefox OS over Android, one answer is it performs better on limited hardware (think a phone with 256 megs ram, and yes, it's pretty hilarious what counts as "limited hardware" nowadays). If you say you're not likely to be buying a phone with those sorts of hardware specs, then you're not the target market. Remember what I said about "most of the worlds population" above? Well, the total population of Europe and North America is about 25% of the population of the world. The other 75% is not out to buy $600 phones. Neither are parts of Europe and North America, of course...

Re:Why Firefox OS? (1)

jez9999 (618189) | about 3 months ago | (#46977563)

Well that pretty much explains where I part company with Mozilla's philosophy. Frankly, I'm not accessing the web from a mobile device in the 3rd world, I'm developing from a desktop machine in the 1st world. Someone should develop for the 3rd world but let it be Google, not Mozilla. They should've focussed on maintaining a quality PC web browser with a comprehensive interface.

Javascript: Massive energy inefficiency? (3, Interesting)

Theovon (109752) | about 3 months ago | (#46963847)

This is an honest question. How does the overhead of having all apps written in Javascript affect battery life? There are tools to compile Android apps to native indtead of Dalvik, and the perormance boost is substantial. I’d expect that the performance comparison between Javascript and native would be orders of magnitude. Now, I realize that most of time, phones are either idle or asleep, but all that extra CPU time for every interactive event has got to add up.

Re:Javascript: Massive energy inefficiency? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46963935)

The real performance bottlenecks have to do with RAM, and just-in-time compilations (though that is often cached). Even number-crunching apps can use asm.js to approach native performance, and even if the gap isn't fully closed there just aren't many apps that require that much performance for a simple smartphone. If you wanted the best possible performance you'd be wasting much time, because it's not JS that's causing most of the performance issues on something like FirefoxOS, but simply the RAM usage and the graphics stack being a bit slipshod in places (though both aspects are being actively improved a lot in FirefoxOS).

Re:Javascript: Massive energy inefficiency? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 3 months ago | (#46964415)

It makes little or no difference. The energy hog on a smartphone is the screen. Virtually everything else pales in comparison. The only time it becomes an issue is if some app is continuously running, which happens with Android occasionally, but then it's not going to matter if it's Javascript or raw handcrafted ARM assember.

But UI response time will matter (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 3 months ago | (#46965405)

While the difference between ASM, Java bytecode or JavaScript bytecode isn't very big in energy consumption, it will give a noticeable increase in "snappiness" in the UI if you get everything in asm. JIT runtimes are amazing at what they can do with the efficiency of the bytecode, but compiling it takes time so users will experience UI lag every time a compile kicks in. The compile itself will take extra energy so yes, there is some impact on battery life as well.

Regardless, users will think an app is "slower" because the time it takes before it does what they tell it to do is longer in some circumstances. They don't care about efficiency of bytecode interpreters and on the fly optimizations.

Re:But UI response time will matter (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#46966157)

That's interesting. It would be partially solved by boosting the processor to full speed when JIT compiling code, then instantly going back to lower power operation for the rest of the experience.
You solve the problem with brute force.. That's what Firefox OS is essentially doing, it takes advantage of even low end hardware having 1.x GHz ARM. In several years low end stuff will have updated CPUs on 20nm process. There can be good incremental progress. But code bloat will eat it up?

Re:Javascript: Massive energy inefficiency? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 3 months ago | (#46967089)

Look up asm.js?

If you have firefox installed check this out as Unreal 4 engine was ported to Firefox JS [neowin.net] .

The link even has a demo you can run? The fact is Google does not want to port this as they want us to use proprietary dart and other technologies optimized for Android. But with Firefox OS you can do a lot with javascript iwth JIT and hardware acceleration.

Reluctant... (0)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 3 months ago | (#46966227)

I'm reluctant to try the FireFox OS for one main reason --- FireFox developers have demonstrated a bad habit of arbitrarily changing important parts of the software they publish (e.g. the FireFox 29 user interface fiasco, making the UI much less customizable, in spite of the developers asserting that it is more customizable).

.
The last thing I would want would be a dependence upon an operating system from those change-happy short-sighted developers.

Re:Reluctant... (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#46966259)

I like the new UI (importantly, it still has the classic menu bar) and the extension to get a fully customisable UI back was available monthes before the official release of FF29.

Landscape Keyboard (2)

koolfy (1213316) | about 3 months ago | (#46966271)

Wake me up when they finally implement Landscape Keyboard mode outside their mobile Firefox browser.

I mean come on, from 1.0 to 1.3 (and still in 1.4 and 1.5 alphas as we speak) you still need to type EVERYTHING on a tiny portrait keyboard. That means calendar, emails, text mesaging, instant mesaging... everything but what you do on the web browser.

I can't even begin to describe how frustating it is to have the capability of rotating the keyboard in the web brower but not on the rest of the system.
This make absolutely no sense when you think their target market is lower-end phones with "reasonable" screen sizes. Meaning you abso-fucking-lutely need to use everything you can get when you want to type something without making 3 typos a word.

Having that said, I still believe firmly in this project, and in the need of a less-bloated-smartphone-OS than Android, not developped by a company with a history of privacy violations (While still tied to the advertising world, I don't recall Mozilla being anywhere on the PRISM slides), and built on open standards.

My main concerns, however, remain:
- Reaching critical mass
- Getting a decent crypto API (full disk encryption etc.)
- GETTING THEIR KEYBOARD TO ROTATE


Wait and see.

Re:Landscape Keyboard (1)

koolfy (1213316) | about 3 months ago | (#46968493)

Oh wait, I could force the landscape orientation in the messaging app by modifying the manifest.

Looks like the "default" setting does not point to what I had in mind.

Meh, the default behavior after flashing the OS is still broken, my point stands.
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