Call it a cop-out if you want, but after spending the better part of an evening futzing around with two Linux-based smartphone operating systems—Ubuntu for Phones and Jolla’s SailfishOS—all I can say is “meh”.
Clearly I’m not seeing either of these mobile upstarts at their best. I can’t get the sound to work on the development release of Ubuntu on my Nexus 5. And Sailfish? the only version I could get was an alpha release. Grabbing screens from either proved to be beyond my limited expertise and ultimately, not really worth it.
After all, it’s Android—and in this case, MultiROM—that’s made it possible to run three separate operating systems on my one device. So you’ll hopefully understand if I wasn’t exactly impressed by the other two.
Ubuntu for Phones
Ubuntu Phone’s biggest claim to fame is the launcher you can access by swiping in from the right, much like the Unity Launcher you get with Ubuntu desktop. Android users might at this point be thinking: “Hey, that seems a lot like the Quickdrawer on Action Launcher…” and you’d pretty much be right.
Sailfish, meanwhile, has a more traditional home screen (Ubuntu does not). Aside from being very pretty, it’s big innovation is showing running apps in panels on said home screen. Mmkay…
I realize that I’m vastly oversimplifying things here, but rather than confuse you with more screen grabs (that aren’t even mine) I think it’s more important to understand that neither of these would-be contenders, at least in their current form, offer any compelling reason to switch from Android. Or iOS, or Windows Phone, or BlackBerry.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about choice. But the savvy Android user is already spoiled for choice in the vast universe of available custom ROMs. For now, I think there are greener pastures there.