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Recommendations for an improved experience with the Jolla phone
19 December 2014, by
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Choosing a Jolla smartphone (SailfishOS) may be motivated by different concerns. One of them and not the least is the desire to stay away from proprietary, closed, opaque systems on top of the market. SailfishOS isn’t 100% open source, but it is largely (let's say 75%, see this article). It differs from its competitors by its raison d'être: it is not a commercial or advertising weapon. It is promoted by a Finnish start-up founded by a team of former Nokians who had developed the Maemo/Meego system, sickened by the Elop disaster, very unlikely to try to keep you under close surveillance.
The Sailfish software ecosystem is still far from maturity (though fortunately still free from most Android's unbearable drifts). In particular, the market for high quality, professional paid applications  is embryonic: few solutions are available. In the Android environment on the other hand, there are plenty, from free to very expensive, from worst to best, and it is not easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. To compensate for the poverty of the native catalogue, Jolla installs by default a compatibility layer (Myriad's AlienDalvik), making their phone a 'twin-engined' one with access to the huge Android application market, with the advantages and risks involved.
The sustainability of Jolla (the hardware) and Sailfish (the system) is not yet assured. But the vitality of the community allows optimism.
The Jolla smartphone, launched in late 2013, may appear to be primarily designed for a community of linuxian marginal geeks. To some extent, it is (after all it's a Linux machine, very permissive). But things are changing fast and one year later it is to be considered as a convenient and privacy-aware device, meeting the needs of any average user (which I am), not only hackers (which I'm not).
If you take part in the adventure and if your motivation is preserving your independence with regards to dominant market players, you need to follow some recommendations that follow.
At the time this article goes to press, I have been using a Jolla for four months. After some novice setbacks, I consider it a reliable and efficient tool. I readily admit that it is more expensive than comparable competitors, that its physical characteristics are below the current standard , and that justified criticism can be addressed to Jolla regarding ecosystem development, strategic priorities and availability of essential accessories such as batteries or protective cases. The company appears to be sane, dynamic and promising. However it's still fragile and this does not allow foreseeing what will happen in six months or in a year. I made a bet, bidding a significant amount, but actually I already won: if the adventure comes to a sudden end, I still have a working equipment with two batteries and two leather cases, easy to use, and above all a device that inspires more trust than distrust. It will last at least three years (my ancient and venerable E90 Communicator has lived seven years and still works fine).
I didn't say a word about the user interface. Pretty original, it is mainly based on well thought gestures (though incomplete in my opinion. For example, one may regret the absence of a universal gesture for continuous zooming, or a “select-copy-paste” gesture). The touchscreen supports five contact points, enough to stimulate developers' creativity. No buttons except the power switch and audio volume controls (three keys that can be reprogrammed by software). That's fine, but not essential: anyone quickly adapts to any ergonomic provided it is consistent.
In September 2015, a major system update was released: SailfishOS version 22.214.171.124, a pre-release of Sailfish 2.0, intended for both Jolla smartphones and tablets.
Its reception by the community (currently only smartphone users) was far from enthusiastic to say the least. Users previously attracted by the innovative Sailfish ergonomics and user experience were disappointed by this release, more suitable for tablets than for phones. Innovation was clearly setback, as Jolla mistakenly tried to entice users of more conventional systems, without disorienting them too much.
So it is advisable to stick to version 126.96.36.199 until further notice.
 When you pay, you acquire a product, the transaction is clear. When you don't pay, obviously someone else acquires something from you, not necessarily with your consent.
 I won't describe it here: if you absolutely want them, it's your business.
 I strongly believe that the real power of a smartphone is more dependent on what the user puts into it than on what the manufacturer has put into.