Firefox OS phone ... first observations

Fri 24 May 2013

Yes, even I’ve got my Geeksphone Peak, and yes I like it. I am sure, that I have collectible item in my hands … it will be either that historical model which changed the world to the open standards on mobile, or maybe it will be in one of those “10 biggest flops” articles (yes, I would love to have Lisa!). I am not sure about this mass success, but I feel like I may eventually like it for myself (which is actually all I care for; after all, I am a happy user of Linux). The first news is very good news: it works perfectly as a phone, which means I use it as my day to day phone (well, music player doesn't switch off on picking up the phone). Also, camera Just Works™, it is possible even lightly edit the image on the phone (a feat which the standard Android camera was not able to accomplish, BTW). Now the problematic parts.

Calendar just doesn't work for me. It works with CalDAV on Firefox OS Simulator 3.0, but not with my phone. Sad but expected (I don’t know why Calendars get so bad treatment by most software providers, not mentioning missing Tasks). Also, originally, Mail didn’t work for me, but I was able to get it working more or less with some later images from Geeksphone (still from time to time the app doesn't load the body of the mail ever). Which leads to another problem: there are no OTA updates yet. I am willing to use Debian/unstable or Fedora/Rawhide, but I really need to be sure, that all those bugs which I hit will be soon fixed and delivered to me. Getting developing-quality with no updates, is really a bad experience for the user, I would say. In the end I at least found the latest images from Geeksphone, but that still has only 1.0.1 version, although there are rumours of 1.1 already existing on the Mozilla servers. Other bad experience is that fonts are tiny, almost unreadable, and I haven’t a way (even a one which would include adb or something similarly drastic) to work around it.

The worst and the best part of the phone is the situation with Contacts. Out of the box, FF OS imports just from SIM card (who still uses contacts there?) and from Facebook (I don’t have an account, and even if I had I would never ever store my main address book there). That was pretty bad, as I really didn't look forward typing of couple hundred contacts I had on pretty crappy keyboard (with unreadably small characters). So, my programmer’s pride raised its head, and I have wrote Javascript LDIF parser and with that I was able to write a simple (and ugly) single-webapp for importing a LDIF file to the system address book. While doing that I have found that there is already Importer from GMail Contacts. I don’t use GMail, so it wasn’t useful for me as such, but eventually I hope to merge my code into this app, because it has much better user interface.

Generally I am enjoying the ride so far, and I am looking to the time where I could get my fix of nightlies everyday.

Category: computer Tagged: firefoxOS review