Feeds

Jolla Sailfish OS to support Android hardware, apps

Run unmodified Android apps alongside native Sailfish ones

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Finnish smartphone startup Jolla has announced that its Linux-based Sailfish OS mobile platform will be both software and hardware compatible with Android.

Sailfish OS will be able to run unmodified Android apps alongside native Sailfish ones, the company said in a press release on Monday. In addition, Sailfish will be installable on existing hardware, provided it is Android compatible.

So far, Sailfish OS has only been demoed running on Jolla's own homegrown handsets – the first batch of which is sold out, despite not being scheduled to ship until the end of the year. But the company said on Monday that the OS would be installable on a range of popular Android smartphones and tablets, too.

"Vendors interested to utilize Sailfish OS are now able to develop phones and tablets based on many different chipset and hardware configurations," Jolla's release said. "This new level of compatibility will enable device vendors who use Sailfish OS to fully utilize the existing Android hardware ecosystem."

The company did not go into detail on how it had achieved this hardware compatibility, and it did not respond to The Reg's request for clarification, but the news isn't really surprising. Other, competing Linux-based mobile platforms, including Firefox OS, Tizen, and Ubuntu, have been built around the Android device driver model to achieve broad hardware compatibility.

Less clear is how Sailfish OS has implemented its Android app compatibility. "The Android layer runs in its own sandbox," Jolla said via Twitter, and it added that Android apps would not necessarily be first-class citizens on the platform. "Definitely, native apps are the only way to utilize the Sailfish UI to the full," the company said, but it gave no further details.

One strong possibility is that Jolla has adapted the Android Compatibility Layer technology from OpenMobile World Wide, versions of which have previously been demoed running on HP webOS and Tizen. Jolla chairman Antti Saarnio has hinted in the past that this might be the case, but neither company has confirmed it to The Reg so far.

Jolla did say, however, that owners of Sailfish OS handsets would not need to side-load Android apps to get them onto their devices. "Jolla will cooperate with leading global app stores to ensure users can seamlessly download Android apps just as they would do on any Android device," the company said in its statement.

Jolla did not disclose which specific Android app stores it was working with, but it did say via Twitter that Google Play would not be one of them. That's probably because Google requires device manufacturers to comply with certain compatibility rules and to sign a licensing agreement before it allows them to distribute the Google Play Store app.

Still, Google Play isn't the only name in the Android app store game, particularly in developing markets such as China, where smartphone adoption is exploding.

"We believe Sailfish with Android compatibility is a highly relevant mobile operating system option for major mobile companies in Europe and in Asia," said Jolla CEO Tomi Pienimäki. "We are already in discussions with several major Asian vendors regarding this opportunity."

Jolla said the details of its Android hardware and software compatibility are "to be shared later, as we work on the solution."

In the meantime, the company is readying a second batch of Sailfish OS handset preorders, but it says this time the offer will be limited to Finnish customers, owing to strong demand in Jolla's home country. Additional preorders will be made available to other regions at a later date. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.