Sony Mobile Releases Developer Build of Firefox OS (B2G) for Xperia E
Unless you have been living under a rock (or at the very least away from access to XDA), you will have likely noticed that a somewhat unlikely company has become developer’s best friend. Sony’s mobile division has gone through massive changes in terms of ideology and support of developers and the mobile scene. Said support ended up earning them the OEM of the Year “award” (essentially consisting of bragging rights for an entire year) due to their continued investment in the community with time and resources from their engineering teams. On top of that, they are trying to abide by the law of the land, also known as GPLv2, by releasing kernel sources in a very, very timely fashion. However, their love for what they do seems to not stop where Android ends. Much like Samsung/Intel has done with Tizen OS, the Japanese manufacturer is exploring other venues to further the evolution of mobile platforms. The most recent development, announced at a press conference, introduced the new project that they are working on together with the telecom giant, Telefonica: Firefox OS.
We have briefly covered this new OS a few times in the past. The first indications and projects on this came from the Boot2Gecko project (which is the code name for FFOS), in which ports of this OS were/are being done for several Android devices. The OS itself, in case you are not familiar, is a web-based OS that mainly uses open web standards for all of its application and overall ecosystem (somewhat similar to Chrome OS). The main appeal of this is that it is not restricted by proprietary hardware or even by specific coding languages, thanks to a wide array of APIs for developers to bring their applications. The OS structure essentially consists of 3 parts: Gonk (middle-ware including HAL, libraries, and the Linux kernel), the Gecko runtime layer for running and managing code, and Gaia, which is your UI/desktop/user environment. Seeing the growing success of Chrome OS and web/cloud based technologies as a whole, taking a crack at this is a rather obvious choice.
Sony decided to start off small and has provided a free, easy to set up, developer version of this OS to current Xperia E owners. This is but a preview, alpha version of the OS. As such, quite a few things may/will be broken. In other words, if you are going in on this thinking of making it your daily use OS, you may want to rethink things. Having said that, if you are a developer trying to get a glimpse of what Sony and Mozilla have in store for the near future, you should definitely check it out. The announcement has all necessary instructions and requirements to install this on the Xperia E, and who knows? Maybe with enough tweaks, blood, sweat, and tears, it could end up getting ported to newer Xperias as well. Only time will tell at this point.
Good move Sony, good move.
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[Thanks to OEM Relations Manager jerdog for the tip!]