Sailfish OS Is Now Fully Compatible With Android

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The successor to MeeGo works on Android hardware, runs apps from Google Play

Finnish start-up Jolla has announced that its open source Sailfish OS has achieved full compatibility with Google’s Android ecosystem. This means any app from Google’s Play Store, or its countless alternatives, can be run on a Sailfish device without any modifications.

The fact that two different operating systems are able to run the same applications is not that unusual, when you remember that both are based on the Linux kernel.

The company said it feels its strategic position has been strengthened following Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia, and will open pre-orders for the second batch of Jolla smartphones later this week. “This will be targeted at Finnish customers who want to express their passion for the Finnish mobile industry,” said Tomi Pienimäki, CEO of Jolla.

Android friend

Jolla was founded in 2011 by several former Nokia engineers, after the promising MeeGo project was abandoned in favour of Windows Phone. The company quickly rebranded the Linux-based mobile OS as Sailfish, and started working on both new hardware and software.

jolla-11The pre-order campaign for its first device, the eponymous €399 Jolla smartphone, was launched in May, and the quota was filled by August.

The Jolla smartphone consists of two colourful ‘halves’ – the core with all the electronics, and the outer case. Software linked to the outer case is able to change fonts, tones, profiles and even functionality of the device based on the colour and design of the ‘other half’.

Jolla will open a second batch of pre-orders in the next few days, and shipments are expected to start in Europe by the end of 2013.

The company says it has achieved a “major breakthrough” by adopting Sailfish to run on hardware commonly used in Android smartphones and tablets. OEMs interested in making devices for the new OS can now start experimenting with different configurations of already existing components.

This could mean Jolla will stop developing its own smartphone designs, and focus on software instead. In any case, given the popularity of the new OS, we can expect more Sailfish devices to appear on sale in the near future.

Complete hardware compatibility also means customers can now enjoy gesture-based user interface and configurability of Sailfish, while running Android apps they already know and love. Jolla said it will cooperate with the leading app stores “to ensure users can seamlessly download Android apps just as they would do on any Android device”.

In the foreseeable future, Jolla plans to grow its business and expand internationally. “We believe Sailfish with Android compatibility is a highly relevant mobile operating system option for major mobile companies in Europe and in Asia. We are already in discussions with several major Asian vendors regarding this opportunity,” said Tomi Pienimäki, CEO of Jolla.

Sailfish is just one of a number of open source mobile operating systems to emerge in the last few years, with Aliyun, Tizen and Ubuntu Mobile all looking to challenge the dominance of iOS and Android. However, in January TechWeekEurope readers voted for Sailfish as the most interesting “alternative” mobile OS.

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