Offtopic: Firefox OS demonstration on Android smartphone

The B2Gdroid app is the official way to experience the Firefox OS interface on Android smartphones. Let's try to figure out what exactly it is and are there any prospects for young mobile OS these days?

The illusion of choice

Where freedom of speech begins, freedom of thought ends

Folk wisdom

The era Android in the mobile world can be called the era of freedom. Users can not only choose any device with any characteristics and price, but also replace any system components, customizing the smartphone to their taste and color. And the developers can bring any ideas to life and make virtually anything from the standard OS, from some Infobar А01 to Nokia X.

This freedom hit some in the head, prompting them to create a heap of indistinct 'imperishable masterpieces', it is not clear for whom and for what purpose. And we are talking not only about little-known programs or 'custom' firmware assembled on the knees, but about commercial devices or even new operating systems. Often they are guided by very simple logic – since the neighbor succeeded, why am I worse? They usually prefer not to think about the fact that one cannot enter the same river twice and that this niche has long been firmly occupied.

There is nothing surprising in this. When digital cameras came into fashion, allowing you to take an unlimited number of pictures and not think about how many frames were left on the film, people began to proudly show each other vague pictures of some random objects, sincerely considering themselves cool photographers. When every Internet user got the opportunity to publish his story or novel on the Internet, hundreds of thousands of graphomaniacs rushed to write books that no one had ever read to the end. When it turned out that any student could create his own computer game, thousands of indie games appeared, boring and secondary to such an extent that even the author himself could not play them.

Over time, people realized that photography is not just a picture that accidentally fell into the viewfinder of a camera, that writing a good book is really difficult, that creating a quality game is hard work and not a fleeting entertainment. That all this is done not for yourself, your beloved, but for complete strangers, who are not at all sure of the genius of your idea and instead of standing ovation, they only wrinkle their nose with displeasure. After that, aspiring photographers, writers and game designers somehow immediately diminished.

But if we talk about operating systems and mobile devices, then there are still a lot of such enthusiasts with an insane shine in their eyes. And this applies not only to single developers, but also to very reputable companies.

Everyone knows that initially only a tiny team of several people worked on Android, which then moved under the wing of Google. So what prevents them from repeating their feat and releasing their own OS, which in a couple of years will take over the whole world? The authors of the idea are not interested in the questions of who and why now needs such an OS, the main thing is that they themselves are interested. Answers to such questions are usually in the style of 'the more different operating systems, the better for everyone', 'competition is a blessing' and 'you don't understand anything, yours Android / iOS / WP have long been obsolete. '

Indeed, sometimes you really want the dictatorship Apple and Google to come to an end, so that a new bright OS will appear, which would force the slightly lazy giants to get down to business again. But so far such an OS is not visible. In words, Android and iOS have a bunch of very different competitors, in practice there is practically nothing to see. Anyone can buy a cheap smartphone on a new OS or install an emulator, but even professional developers have no incentive to do this.

The main problem of young operating systems is that they cannot offer anything really new. This is a tracing paper with Android, and more likely from some Eclair than from Lollipop. Sometimes this copy is hastily attached to some kind of 'innovation', from which more harm rather than good. For example, you can replace icons with widgets with live tiles. Or change the standard apps to their web versions written in HTML. Or replace the Google Play app store with some kind of local analogue, at the same time also properly perverting the OS interface itself.

Ubuntu Touch, Tizen, Firefox – all of them are of interest to their developers and managers of these companies, who have a reason to declare that they are no worse than Google. Windows Phone (Mobile) is doing a little better, but primarily due to the financial capabilities of MS. Spend the same Canonical so much money on promoting its OS and also start a 'pocket' manufacturer of devices like the former Nokia, and after 5 years (and that's how much has passed since the appearance of WP), they would probably have the same couple of market percentages. Whatever Ubuntu is.

At the same time, the developers themselves sincerely believe that when people find out about the existence of their OS, they will immediately abandon Android and iOS and run to buy their smartphones. Microsoft offers to change iPad to Surface, Canonical releases versions of well-known Android smartphones on their OS, and Mozilla offers to install a beta version of the Firefox-style launcher. We will consider it as an example.

B2Gdroid: Introducing Firefox OS

You can download the apk file from the following link. Although I don’t think you can expect Trojans or other 'pleasant' surprises from Mozilla, you install this application at your own risk.

IFA_min Android for dummies # 21. Viruses and antiviruses. Installing programs from third-party sources

In fact, we are faced with a regular launcher, which at times tries to seem like something big. Moreover, the launcher is completely inconvenient, with a bunch of technical flaws and roughnesses. To use it on an ongoing basis is sheer torment, constant crashes, brakes and glitches completely nullify all its few advantages. At the same time, B2Gdroid does not complain about the appetite, it only uses up the battery charge.

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In theory, the program's goal is very simple – to show users the Gaia interface that Firefox OS uses. Who needs it is a separate question, the times when replacing square icons with round ones caused ahs and oohs of an admiring audience are long gone. And there is nothing more to look at here. Any launcher and any branded shell will give this application a hundred points ahead, both in terms of usability and beauty. I'm not even talking about the quality of implementation.

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The main screen is divided into two sections. Above is a dock bar with four main icons, below is a list of all applications installed on the smartphone. Both sections can be collapsed by clicking on the icon in their upper right corner.

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There is a search bar at the top of the screen that can both find apps on your phone and search the internet.

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The status bar is even higher. It opens every other time – in half of the cases, the standard 'shutter' Android works.

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A long tap on the desktop allows you to change the wallpaper, open the settings and (as far as I understand) create a new section with applications. The last two points do not work for me, the maximum that I could get was a black screen.

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At the very bottom of the screen, the developers have placed a navigation key similar to the Home button in Android. A short tap on it brings up the main screen, a long tap – the task manager.

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In addition, you can switch between running applications using a horizontal swipe from the edge of the screen. Here is just a little sense in this – minimized applications are clearly unloaded from memory, so this is not so much about switching as about restarting.

B2Gdroid has several built-in applications from Firefox OS. They are made as simple as possible, if not primitive. In addition, there is an application store, some of which even work. Which is no wonder – mostly we are talking about slightly retouched web pages of certain services or simple games in HTML5.

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Separately, it is worth mentioning the settings menu, which is clearly transferred from a full-fledged OS. Why it is in B2Gdroid is completely unclear. After all, this program is not an OS emulator, it is a launcher, and a rather primitive one. Perhaps the user should be imbued with the capabilities of Mozilla's OS?

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To be honest, it is completely incomprehensible to me for whom and for what purpose B2Gdroid was created. If I understand correctly, it is practically useless for developers, especially against the background of a long-standing emulator. And buying a smartphone with Firefox OS is not so difficult. For users, it is all the more useless – it is simply impossible to use it now, any launcher written by a schoolboy on his knee will be preferable. In any case, it will not slow down so much, fly out and freeze. As a demonstration of the capabilities of the OS, it does not fit all the more – there is simply nothing to demonstrate to it now. Aside from the notorious circular app icons, there isn't much to see right now.

After several hours of using the launcher, I have only one question for the developers – what was it? Anti-advertising of your own product, intrigues of black PR specialists, competitors, a belated April Fool's joke? Yes, this is nothing more than a 'demo', which was honestly declared from the very beginning. But was it really impossible to make something out of it, even remotely resembling a working product, even for a second to think about those who will use this 'something'?

Either way, it would be better for Firefox OS if B2Gdroid never comes to light. Perhaps then someone else would have believed in a bright future for this innovative open OS, fearless enthusiastic developers who dared to challenge evil corporations, and the coming crash iOS and Android.

The trouble with most young operating systems is that they do not know how and do not want to compete and are not going to seriously fight for their place in the sun. Either they are initially looking for a narrow niche (for example, over budget devices for developing countries) or they are guided exclusively by their loyal fans, who will buy a smartphone anyway. As soon as it comes to something more, it turns out zilch. A maximum of loud words, a minimum of real deeds. Where other companies would have clung to their chance with their teeth, the developers of such OSs approach the matter carelessly, as if they themselves do not believe in the possibility of success. This is sad.


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