Sailfish Update Seeks To Simplify Jolla’s Alternative Mobile OS

It’s been a long time coming but Finnish mobile startup Jolla has pushed the release button for early users to get their hands on an overhauled version of its mobile interface, Sailfish.

The forthcoming full 2.0 release was offered to OEMs for licensing back at the start of March, and previewed to the media, but has not yet filtered down to users.

Today Jolla said current Jolla smartphone users with early access can now get the UI updates of v2.0 (although it’s not technically the full v2.0 release yet; but rather v1.1.9) — which revamps the interface to simplify the navigation and UI flow, responding to criticism that Jolla’s alternative mobile UI had a too steep learning curve.

Of the new release Jolla notes:

You can simply swipe left or right between Home and Events, like in a carousel. The App Grid is quickly accessible from anywhere in the UI just by swiping over the bottom edge – you don’t need to go to the Home screen if you want to open a new app.

The upgrade also introduces support for tablets — ahead of the release of the forthcoming Jolla tablet, slated to land towards the end of October (although earlier Indiegogo backers are due to start getting their tablets in a couple of weeks).

Other changes include various visual and layout tweaks, updates to Events, Notifications and Weather, plus some light additional personalization options — such as the ability to switch the behavior of the top edge swipe gesture to close apps directly (rather than switch the UI’s ambiance, i.e. the look and feel).

After today’s beta user release, a spokesman for Jolla said it expects the full update to go out to everyone ” in about a week”.

“It depends slightly on how the early access phase goes, and if there are any blockers found to the wider distribution,” he added.

Whether Jolla’s upgrade schedule for Sailfish is fast enough to generate momentum for its alternative OS remains to be seen.

The company does not break out sales figures of its own hardware devices, although the forthcoming Jolla tablet raised around $2.5 million in pre-orders via the Indiegogo crowdfunding site — with the campaign pulling in more than 21,500 individual backers.

The need for Jolla to concentrate efforts on its mobile software is of the reasons behind its recent bifurcation — with the current Jolla entity focusing all resources on Sailfish, and an as yet unannounced second entity to work on developing hardware.

The primary push for Jolla is now a mobile OS licensing business targeting the BRICs. But if that’s to succeed it needs to accelerate the pace of upgrades and show it can compete with Android development and respond to user feedback fast enough to earn loyalty in what continues to be a hyper competitive market.