OpenMoko: like the iPhone, only Linuxier!

Posted by & filed under Gadgets, Usability.

Like most Mac-owning, right-thinking individuals, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the Apple iPhone, despite living in Canada, where mobile data rates are unfortunate, to say the least. Also, the whole “closed platform” thing. That and the “how do you dial this with gloves on?” bit. And the fact that there’s no word of any Canadian release date, and there’s only two GSM carriers in Canada anyway… and they both use the same network. But hey, it syncs well with iCal and has a real web browser! I want one already!

So enough about products whose chief value is making its user look cooler and more affluent than non-owners! There’s a far more geeky smartphone just over the horizon!

FIC Neo1973 Linux smartphoneBehold, OpenMoko! It’s made of Linux! FIC (not that FIC) has spearheaded the open smartphone platform with their currently-almost-released Neo1973 phone being the first capable of running OpenMoko. The actual handheld looks… cute, actually. Kind of 70s retro, like a non-translucent clamshell iBook.

The featureset is impressive, with WiFi, AGPS and a 640x480 screen, and includes everything we’ve come to expect from a smartphone, save for a camera. According to the OpenMoko wiki:

“The 2nd generation OpenMoko device will be introduced at this time. We have something special in the works, but again, you will help shape this device.”

That sounds like a camera to me, since one’s missing, but who knows?

The UI seems somewhat dated, which is not altogether unheard of with Linux, though it will obviously be skinnable in some way — a feature I’d definitely want to make use of. I’m not totally impressed by the look of the dialer in particular. I’d like to see something a bit higher-contrast, personally.

I do like the fact that it uses a similar multi-touch panel as the iPhone, but isn’t that patented? Oh. Yes it is — but maybe not by Apple.

Personally, I find the most important feature of a phone or PDA is ease of use and how well it can sync with my computer. I’m eager to see how well the OpenMoko platform does among the early adopter crowd, but for now, I think I’ll be holding off on that preorder.

5 Responses to “OpenMoko: like the iPhone, only Linuxier!”

  1. Carl Gundel

    For the iPhone and for similar devices like the OpenMoko there is a workable solution for custom development. Create a web app and use it in the device’s web browser. This is one of the needs we are trying to meet with our Run BASIC system (http://www.runbasic.com) which is meant to be easy enough that anyone can make a custom app for their phone.

  2. AnneDroid

    if you want “real” internet on Linux-based phone, check out the Nokia N800. 800x480 screen, handwriting capture, vga video cam, and such makes it seem better than either the “I can afford to pay more for less” iPhone, or the OpenMoko.

  3. Catherine Omega

    Yeah, but the N800 isn’t a phone though, is it? It’s a mobile device, with wifi and bluetooh, just no phone part.

    Right?

  4. AnneDroid

    I says it’s SIM card capable, and it’s listed under “phones”… so i assume it’s a gsm mobile. I could be wrong.

  5. SJS

    You state that “it syncs well with iCal” — I can’t find any reference to a planned or developed ical sync.
    Would you mind sharing your source for this?
    Many thanks