Ever since Sailfish is known to us as an operating system not an actual “fish”, there were a lot of demos on YouTube; many people were literally amazed by the work of Finnish, some went: “This’ll be a failure like MeeGo-Harmattan” Which in fact wasn’t a failure and you’ll only know when you own a Nokia N9/50!
On one hand the truth is, that “if” MeeGo-Harmattan had a fair bit of support, none of this would have happened to it and we didn’t know what’s Jolla and Sailfish at the moment, on the other hand; if Nokia had supported Harmattan and we were satisfied enough, we probably were spending our time playing with Windows Phone UI as we were convinced that MeeGo is dead, and were using an old school back button! So thankfully, Nokia sort of gave away an unwanted opportunity for the creation of Sailfish!
So anyhow, Sailfish was born quite a while ago and we say it’s the most unique and practical yet beautiful operating system ever made for a smartphone. Yes it’s quite an ambition to say that in front of iOS, Android and quite amazingly WindowsPhone fans, I say quite amazingly because I recently found some real so called “fan-boys” around WP! But to be honest, I like ambition, because I always have reasons for my ambitiousness.
While we’re still on topic, I want to say that gesture based operating systems are catching up lately and even the old ones are bringing gesture based updates such as iOS, even Android applications like the new Viber, or Hangouts or even Facebook (Beta) are involved in the gesture war and quite frankly, it started with WebOS from Palm but defined cleanly by Harmattan on the Nokia N9.
So, back to the ambition, today we’re going to compare Sailfish to as many operating systems as we can starting with the main rivals which has roughly the same age as Sailfish.
Sailfish OS vs. Ubuntu touch
Sailfish over Ubuntu:
- More user friendly UI
- More lightweight than Ubuntu on slower devices
- Much more applications available before launch
- More simple to use
- True multitasking
Ubuntu over Sailfish
- Some individuals like the complex of the UI
- In some design queues it’s more modern looking than others
- In many ways, it’s more organized
- It’s more known to Linux enthusiasts due to its name
Ubuntu Touch is a newly born mobile OS from Ubuntu which is entirely based on pure Linux and has a very eve-catching and beautiful user experience and interface but, there’s a but! Whilst Ubuntu is very beautiful and gorgeous, it reminds me of Android in terms of heaviness.
Forgive me to say this, but nowadays it’s a bad habit for manufacturers and also the people using smartphones to be obsessed with the number of cores, the power of their processors and things like this when their software (Android in particular) has lack of lightness, as people with sense of humor call it “Lagdroid” on these days! So from the demos that I saw, Ubuntu was running on a fairly powerful Galaxy Nexus with a 1.2 GHz Dual-core processor and a PowerVR-540 graphical processor which is powerful enough to run Android quite smoothly, and Ubuntu was a bit laggy during some gestures.
Well everyone might say Ubuntu is still in early stage but I have to say although everyone is right, we must remember that Sailfish was some day in its early stage as well and it was always running on a 3 year old N950 before the Jolla phone was shown to the public and it was fairly smooth in terms of UI.
I don’t want to sound boring because this is a relatively long article but there are more to it. While the colors and shape of icons and the overall design of Ubuntu touch is very dramatic and great, there are things like practicality and comfort which have been sacrificed during the design. If you hold a big phone like Galaxy nexus or an even bigger Galaxy S4 in your hands, you wouldn’t not want to move the phone in your hand in order to reach the thing you desire to touch while you’re walking or even sitting around working with your phone! This impracticalness is all over Ubuntu’s home screen. Like Android, you have to reach the top if you want the notification center to pop down or maybe fiddle with some settings. Another gesture issue is that swiping from the left does NOT do the same thing as swiping from the right. While having more abilities with gestures is very good, it has its own drawbacks and down sides which as I said before, they sacrifice the practicality of the phone, if you are a left hander, swiping from the left is obviously easier for you and doing that in Ubuntu is getting into the application drawer or home. But if you are a right hander and you are used to work with your phone with your right hand, you have to reach the left side of the phone with your right hand which is honestly not so comfortable or easy on big-screened phones, in order to get the app drawer in sight.
This video is a great example of some slight lags and using all the edges for different matters which makes the OS less practical for people with smaller hands, or people who don’t want to use their phone with two hands all the time. (Source: Engadget.com)
On Sailfish thou, the story is rather different. The user is able to hold his finger in just the middle of the screen as the OS is so much focused on the comfort of the usage and the UX. As you can see in the demo below the presenter’s thumb is hardly moving to any place on the screen other than using those simple left to right or up to down gestures and the haptic feedback with sound, leaves the user so confident that there’s no need to look at the screen.
Application-wise I have to say it’s a win for Sailfish again, since Ubuntu is a new platform (As is Sailfish) there are not much apps written for it except HTML5 apps while Sailfish has over 787185 apps only from Android (I know many of them are fart simulators or useless apps since the percentage of low quality apps are a whopping 22%, but since numbers matter in this section…) and as we have seen, the interest around the Sailfish SDK is quite high since there was an application ported to Sailfish only 20 minutes after the beta SDK was released.
Tablet-wise, Ubuntu wins, but only in terms of beauty! Because it looks magnificent on tabs while Sailfish, due to its unique design is better for smaller devices such as phones. Yet I have to say it’s easier to work on a tablet with Sailfish since you don’t need to move your hand a lot in that big screen.
Wrap up the first battle:
I am not actually going to wrap this up and conclude it for our viewers because there might be some points that I have forgot to mention, so I’ll leave the Ubuntu Touch vs. Sailfish OS conclusion to you readers, please leave your opinion in the comment section.
The Second battle goes to Firefox OS vs. Sailfish OS
To my eyes, Firefox is still not good enough. Yes it does support HTML 5 apps but so does Sailfish and Ubuntu and Tizen and many other mobile operating systems! The UI, is honestly pretty basic and it’s sort of an old fashioned UI which is frankly more than 6 years old since the iPhone was introduced! Isn’t it? It doesn’t support any gestures and it does look like a downgraded budget iOS to replace Symbian in Asia!
To be very frank, I digged a lot about the Firefox OS and honestly I couldn’t find anything interesting about it because if I want an OS for budget devices, there are already many OSes available like Bada from Samsung or the S40 OS from Nokia.
So is there any logical reason here to compare FFOS to Sailfish really?
Okay here is a video of the developer version of Firefox OS for your own decision.
The third battle goes to Tizen vs. Sailfish
Tizen and sailfish are basically relatives from the beginning but they seem like very different and they have gone different ways.
Sailfish over Tizen:
- More modern, gesture based UI
- Much, much smoother with a normal hardware
- Has more apps due to the Android compatibility layer
- I personally still think it’s more open than Tizen
- No buttons needed to run the OS
- It doesn’t lag like Tizen does! (It is really laggy at least now at this stage of development!)
Tizen over Sailfish:
- Two very big companies (Samsung and Intel) are behind it
- It has more history which says it’s basically older and more time is spent on its development
It’s been a long time that Samsung has taken over the MeeGo project since Nokia has dropped it, and since then, it’s being developed by Samsung but what we have seen from it, other that technical and professional stuff is some videos from a developer device from Samsung which looks relatively like a boxy Galaxy S3. The UI apparently is something similar to the TouchWiz that Samsung installs on their Android devices (Which I don’t think they yet realized it lags A LOT!) and the icons are Firefox OS lookalike. There’s a status bar like Android that you drag from the top of the screen as well. It is still a mystery! Are they going to use their TouchWiz in Tizen as well when they finish it? At least that’s what it shows everywhere.
Till now, I don’t think Tizen has anything to win the battle at least at this very moment. Because despite the youngness of Sailfish, it looks more mature and indeed more innovative than Tizen in terms of Application compatibilities and user interface point of view. What’s underneath these OSes are also make them apart because yet again, Sailfish is more lightweight and less laggy on different hardware.
Although in this video, CNET mentions that this is an early stage demo and many things might change about the home screen later on.
The fourth battle: Sailfish vs. BB10
BB10 and Sailfish are also relatives and very similar indeed. Both are Qt supportive, both are multitasking brothers, and both support some heavy gesture inputs.
Sailfish over BB10:
- More simple gestures
- Less confusing
- More organized
- More user customizable
- Slightly more innovative design
- Interactive multitasking
- More open than BB10
- BB10 apps can be easily ported to Sailfish
BB10 over Sailfish:
- More focused on messaging
- Being a bit older and having more native apps in comparison
- The best keyboard ever! (Not sure about Sailfish keyboard yet since we haven’t seen anything)
It is very confusing comparing these two really, there are many similarities. Both have card based multitasking and the gestures are very similar. While there are many similarities, there’s another side which reveals the differences to our eyes.
Gestures are different in BB10, they are confusing at first until the user gets used to them after using the phone for a while. The multitasking is wide and real but there’s no interaction with the app when it’s minimized, and that is getting quite old now.
The app drawer looks iPhoney to me but the animations and transitions are pretty.
But still the big problem with the gestures on BB10 is that they change their behavior in different situations, sometimes they are used for peaking, sometimes minimizing sometimes going back, and for a user that wants speed, it can get confusing at a time since there’s also no haptic feedbacks or sounds as well.
So while the BB10 is very modern looking and fun to use, it’s not very practical in everyday use. I was before! But now that Sailfish has redefined the everyday practicality for mobile operating systems, not anymore…
To conclude this competition between two very similar OS, I have to say that BB10 is a brilliant OS with a modern looking UI and a great user experience, but Sailfish wins again because it does everything that BB10 does, but it does them better! Different opinion? Please leave it in the comment section, so we can discuss.
The fifth battle: back to the classic era!
Sailfish vs. Android
Speaking of Android, there’s Google, one of the richest and most capable IT companies in the world behind it and well, that’s not exactly a weak point, is it?
Sailfish over Android:
- Modern UI [with no lag!]
- True multitasking with no pause on the whilst minimized
- More user friendly and ease of usage
- Having many of the Android apps available for it + Sailfish apps
- More open and truly Linux [not only Linux based]
- Usage of simple gestures everywhere
- No buttons needed to run the OS
- A LOT more lightweight
Android over Sailfish:
- Many native apps already available for it
- More customizable via custom ROMs [At the moment]
- Wise choice of hardware for it from different companies
- More known to the public
In terms of the OS itself, since Sailfish is a new born OS and it’s here to compete; it has a package of awesomeness to compete! Android on the other hand is competing well and Google updates it once in a while with some cool features but the problem is that even they have tried a lot to change the behavior and the look of it in their various updates, it is still the same if you don’t consider the minor changes, so that is the actual reason of Sailfish being present at the moment.
You see, Android’s base is a bit problematic and old fashioned and very difficult to change because it’s like changing the base of a building when you still want to keep the whole building intact.
It’s complicated to convince android lovers about the fact that Android is quite old and mobile industry needs a big change [and no lag!].
Android is the first generation touch OS style and it’s mostly based on tapping on visible contents but Sailfish is all about gestures and making the life easier by not moving your hand all over the screen. [This part was taken from Vesa-Matti Hartikainen speech in Akademy 2013, with some slight changes]
There’s not much to say but if Android wants to win this competition, it needs a bigger change than the changes they are making to it now.
So Sailfish is holding up quite well in terms of durability and performance in compare to Android.
To conclude this one, I need to say that while Android is a very good OS with many unique facilities, in compare to Sailfish is not a very sophisticated OS to be honest because if you are an Android user, you’ll find the OS a little bit outdated after a while of using it, and I say that because I actually have an Android device as well. The RAM gets full easily and everything goes very slowly especially if you have your 3G or LTE connected continuously and that is not exactly an up-to-date experience. So in my personal point of view, Sailfish wins this one by a mile juts because it’s light and agile.
As Antti Saarino, The chairman of Jolla says: “Future is not about hardware. It’s about software.”
And that pretty much concludes my point saying Android has a weak software and manufacturers are trying to build a hardware to hide the weakness, but they have failed.
The battle with the beginner of this game
iOS vs. Sailfish
As you know, iOS was the innovation of mobile industry with its all new user interface which we’ve never seen ever, those animations and transitions were simply amazing when it first came out. After a while, the other operating systems started to be like it, which is not a bad thing and it doesn’t mean stealing but it means competing. It has been 7 years since the first iPhone OS was introduced that after a while they decided to name it iOS since it wasn’t only for iPhones anymore and this year, Apple finally decided to change the entire appearance of the OS, at least that’s what they said at first, so came the date of the introduction to the new iOS 7 with newly designed icons, new transition effects and new graphic designs with so many new features but it bugs you down when you see the home button is still present on Apple iPhones while the gestures are already in there as well.
Let’s see what’s what!
Sailfish over iOS:
- Fully gesture based with no home button
- Fully open source, to allow the user do whatever they want
- More up-to-date and modern UI
- True multitasking with no pausing the app in the background
iOS over Sailfish:
- More users at the moment
- Being the starter of this game
- Vast amount of native apps available for it
- Great support of Apple company behind it
- Lots of developers are interested in developing apps for iOS
Overall, iOS has lots of advantages in the mobile world and the most important one is the loyal customers, people who say Apple or nothing else. But iOS has lost its specialness and it isn’t as hot as before. Apple made an OS that was repeating its design for nearly 7 years and still looked fresh in many ways with some additions, but now it’s really time to move forward by not just making the icons look cartoony, but changing the whole story and language of the system! I know it’s very difficult to change everything and make the previous apps work flawlessly with the system but at some point there has to be a solution for this issue. Personally, I know many people who have their iPhones and when they saw Jolla, they made a pre order and they want to move forward already.
iOS made benchmarks and was always the head of changes in the past while now it became a follower. it needs some big innovations that makes even the haters go WOW!
WindowsPhone vs. Sailfish
There is only one quite modern OS left in this comparison that I almost forgot to mention! It’s the OS that made itself a reason adorable in some ways which I’m going to explain.
Let’s not make it boring to read! This OS made Nokia to dump their MeeGo and frankly kill it with a pistol! Yes, you must be guessing Windows Phone now! I admit, there are a lot of fan boys and even more haters around this OS nowadays and I give the right to all of them. Personally I both love and hate WP, you ask why?
I love WP because if there wasn’t any WP around, there was no Jolla, no Sailfish and no more ambition in innovation as we see on Sailfish at the moment.
I hate WP because it’s dull and boring and most importantly, it killed our beloved MeeGo Harmattan by its arrival. (I know! MeeGo isn’t dead blah blah blah, but you know what I mean!)
So let’s see what this almost forgotten OS has to compete with?
Sailfish over WP:
- Heavily gesture based UI
- Nor buttons for the back neither home
- Wider support of hardware
- Open source
- Simpler, better and more modern UI
- True multitasking
- Even before the launch it has more apps than WP
- Much more unlimited SDK for developers to play with
WP over Sailfish:
I’m sorry but, is there any “better” thing that WP has and Sailfish doesn’t have? If you are going to say live tiles, I’ll have to stop you right there because Sailfish multitasking cards are live and being updated every time and they change their appearance time-wise. Can you fiddle with your live tiles on WP? No! They just show you stuff but on Sailfish, you can interact with your tiles (Cards) and fiddle with them however you want.
Conclusion? Win for Sailfish! (Apologies to the offended Windows Phone fan!)
I have to say, Sailfish made some decent battles with these bad boys and from where I’m sitting, it won all of it due to logical reasons I tried to write. I might have been a little bit harsh on some parts but it was fun!
This article was written by a person who uses Android, iOS, MeeGo, Maemo and WP most likely at all time and I really mean it. I don’t want to set myself only on one side and while writing this I thought about every item I wrote and played with the devices available to me a lot to make sure nothing is missed, but if I missed anything, please let me know in the comment section.
I hope you enjoyed reading it and you didn’t get bored because I admit it was too long! Let me know your opinions in the comment section if you’re still reading And don’t forget to share the article with your friends if you liked it.
Have a great weekend ahead. Sail on…
Special thanks to Ali Fakhruddin for the image editing.
Sepehr Noori (James)