The long anticipated Jolla phone has finally come out with its Sailfish operating system, leaving reviewers concerned that this phone is destined for the bottom of the sea. To be fair when the phone was first shown to the world as a teaser, many sceptics doubted whether it would even make it to launch day. After the reviews and hands on testing by technology journalists, it might have been for the best if it hadn’t.
Only 450 phones were sold to begin with at a very comparable price of €400 to buy the phone out right, with many of the truly enthusiastic ordering well in advance. The Finish team behind Jolla used to work for a company that is familiar to most as Nokia. However, when the technology giant decided to derail its in-house operating system MeeGo for Window’s Microsoft these designers jumped ship. But they took with them a lot of the style and visual concepts from their past employer, resulting in the Jolla to look like it belongs in the Nokia family with its cousins.
During the day of the launch, Jolla Oy (the parent company behind Jolla), invited experts to come and test out the final product. Although the biggest challenge was achieved and all the basic specs and general design came off as pleasing, unfortunately everything seemed to go downhill from there. The operating system is based on a series of swipe-actions in contrast with the navigation-style buttons most frequently seen on Android and iOS. The challenge then being for Jolla was to make this swiping motions intuitive enough that they would not confuse users. Unfortunatly, it does not appear that this was achieved as many technology journalists left the launch feeling as though it was “clumsy” or worst of all possibly “broken.”
Admittedly by the company it is a different way of using a touch-screen but promoters and supporters of the new system are confident that adept technology users will be able to adapt and gain the benefits of the forward thinking style. An example of how the swipe-based movement would differ from an Android would be the Events calender. Rather than having to navigate to where the events icon is located in the phone, with the Jolla swiping upwards will reveal it all together. A swift pull down and release will reveal the camera.
Without memorizing all of these different movements, users will have to spend quite a bit of time locating the functions they are hoping to achieve. Like wise, the placement of where the swipe begins is key to what function is being launched, an uncomfortable movement described by some users.
It is important to remember that the initial start up of any product although important is not nearly as indicative of success as a company’s ability to adapt. In the world of technology where change is not only inevitable, it is possible that the elegant exterior of the Jolla will be enough to satisfy users until the appropriate updates are available. In the mean time, one hopes that Jolla Sailfish will not be what takes the phone to the bottom of the sea before it has a chance to soar.
By Romana Outerbridge