7 Future Linux Smartphone OS other than Android

We all are well aware of iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry Smartphones. Among all of them, Android has largest share of users and it is based on Linux platform (Linux Distro). Also, Linux is the basis of almost all modern operating systems. Do you know that more than 80% of smartphones are powered by Linux?
Today, we will be highlighting less common and future Linux Smartphone OS that you will see in the market in upcoming couple of years.

Note: All of them are in developing stages. 

7. Nokia X

This is the brand new platform, Microsoft is working on. It is mostly based on Google’s Android but the interface is far different. It’s an Android open source project where Google play store and service has been replaced by Microsoft’s app store and services. The Nokia X GUI has flat design which is very much similar to Windows OS.  So overall, don’t be surprised if Microsoft launches a Smartphone with new OS rather than Windows.

6. WebOS

webOS

We have already seen WebOS devices in the market. It was designed by Palm which was acquired by HP in 2010. HP has a long and clear vision of WebOS. They wanted it to use in Smartphones, tablets and even PCs. Unfortunately, things didn’t go smooth as they expected. They launched HP TouchPad tablet running on WebOS in order to compete with Apple’s iPad. Their product didn’t do well in the market and they reduced the price from $500 to $99 to sell all the units.

Because of this failure, HP made the WebOS source code open which is now called WebOS Community Edition. In 2013, the WebOS is used by LG Inc. in one of their product, LG Smart TVs. This led them to produce amazing slick design TV with easy and interactive interface. Till now, LG hasn’t announced to release any Smartphone running on WebOS but they gonna continue WebOS on TVs.

WebOS runs different web apps and many of its features are innovatory. Lot of features have been integrated into other popular operating systems. For example, WebOS’s multitasking card is used in iOS 7 multitasking interface.
At present, LG is promoting open source WebOS project.

5. Jolla Sailfish

jolla sailfish os

Sailfish is a Linux based smartphone, quite compatible with Ubuntu. Its source code is based on MeeGo.

History of MeeGo

Nokia was working on Linux Smartphone project named Maemo (2010) before collaborating with Microsoft. Later, Maemo project got involved with Intel Corporation where they named it MeeGo OS. Nokia released this OS in one of their devices i.e Nokia N9 which is liked by many people specially developers. It was the first and last smartphone running on MeeGo. After that, they closed this project to entirely focus on Windows phones.

As a result, many key developers of MeeGo left the company. They started a company called Jolla where they created Sailfish OS. Most of the source code was taken from MeeGo only. Basically, Sailfish is a continuation of MeeGo but not owned by Nokia. Sailfish can run all apps created with Qt and a few android apps too.

The current version of Sailfish still requires a lot of work in GUI components and connectivity functions. According to the company in upcoming years it will be highly customizable (open source) and adaptable to tablets, phones and even TVs.

4. Samsung Tizen

samsung z tizen

Tizen is an open source mobile operating system based on Linux foundation for tablets, smartphones and notebooks. Tizen project is primarily controlled by Samsung and Intel, plus there are few other companies involved i.e. Sprint, Huawei, NTT Docomo and Fujitsu. Tizen includes  Bada elements, very less amount of MeeGo source code, LiMo UI stack and few components from jQuery mobile app framework.  Samsung’s TouchWiz (custom GUI for android product) is inspired by Tizen’s UI.

One major disadvantage is Tizen has no store for apps. Therefore, Samsung need to develop their own app store if they ever decide to end their partnership with Google. But, this is really not gonna happen, at least for 4 years. Tizen is primarily designed to run Android apps.

Samsung’s Gear 2 Smartwatch has Tizen OS. Recently, they have revealed the first Tizen Smartphone, Samsung Z which is available in Russia. It is running on 2.3 GHz quad core processor which shows that apps are responsive and snappy. Overall, Tizen is ready to give tough competition to other new Linux based OS.

3. Amazon Fire

amazon kindle fireImage credit: Amazon

If you remember, a few days back, Amazon marketed its touchscreen Kindle eBook reader as “Based on Android tablet”. And now they are marketing it as “Compatible with Android”. It seems like Amazon is promoting their own Operating System i.e. Amazon Fire. It builds on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Obviously, Amazon app store has replaced the Google’s play store and services in Kindle fire. Around 75% of Android apps are working on Amazon Fire (without any modification).

The Amazon OS also has special and unique features like Mayday that allows you video chat with a support representative within 15 Sec. Also, there is an app that quickly scans product so you can purchase stuff on amazon easily. Few other key features are text to speech conversion, web apps support, Dolby audio API and more. At present, this operating system is available on 3rd generation Kindle Fire and Amazon Fire TV.

2. Ubuntu Smartphone

ubuntu

Ubuntu is a Linux based OS developed by a British company. The aim is to create a single OS for all devices like smartphones, tablets, desktops and TVs. Just like Microsoft is trying to do, same Windows OS on smartphone and desktop. But they have not reached their yet.

Undoubtedly, Ubuntu is aimed at entry level smartphone users. There will be no separate OS for different devices. The interface will be automatically adjusted according to the screen size and type of device. That means, install it on a PC, you will see an interface optimized for keyboard and mouse, plus for mobile and tabs you will see a touch interface. Isn’t it cool!! Just like a responsive web design, Ubuntu is trying to make a Responsive Operating system.

Why Ubuntu will succeed in future?

  • One Software for all devices
  • Supports both ARM and x86 processor
  • No Struggle with app support
  • Well suited for Gaming

1. Firefox OS

firefox os device

According to Mozilla, web is a future platform. All PC users mostly spend their time on web browsers and apps only. We all are familiar with Mozilla’s Firefox browser and now they are coming up with HTML5 based mobile operating system. It is based on Gecko rendering and Firefox web browser.

There are 3 parts of Firefox OS: Gonk, Gecko and Gaia. Gonk is the hardware abstraction layer (Kernel) which is adapted for different chipsets. Gecko is the application interface that sets up the network, defines support for codecs and handles all application tasks. Gaia is user interface that handles screen input/output.

Firefox OS devices are already available in the market. Alcatel one touch, ZTE open, Huawei Y300II, Intel cloud FX are few of them. The benefit of these handsets is everything is open source. If you are a developer, you can use Firefox OS simulator. This is great platform if you want to write your own apps.
Mozilla wants to replace the native smartphone apps with web applications. To accomplish this project, they need to develop an ecosystem that makes both operator and user happy.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is an experienced science and technology journalist interested in machines, AI, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out what his latest project is, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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