Sailfish OS given a Jolla good buffing as version 3.1 bobs gently into port

Encryption, VPN and Android app support for Apple and Google refuseniks

Jolla has updated Sailfish, the Linux-based mobile OS aimed at those who prefer a little less Android and Apple in their lives.

Trumpeting the version as the "biggest update since the launch of Sailfish 3", Jolla has named the code "Seitseminen" after a national park 50km from the company's HQ in Tampere, Finland.

Things have had a jolly good buffing in this release, with the cosmetics coming in for attention. To be fair (and in our very subjective opinion) Sailfish was already an attractive OS (certainly when compared to some of the more alarming Linux efforts out there) but redesigns to core apps such as People, Phone and Messages will be welcome, as will improvements to email and calendar.

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The gang has also attempted to make the first-time experience for users escaping the clutches of Google and Apple a little easier with some extra hints and tips. Existing users will be relieved to know that the hand-holding can also be turned off.

The final tweaks in this release are concerned with security. Encryption for the home partition (where the likes of emails, documents and messages lurk) is now supported by the OS, although not yet enabled for Jolla or Xperia products, and it is also now possible to enable the more robust VPN functionality prior to activating a network connection.

Fingerprint authentication for XA2 devices also puts in an appearance in version 3.1.

Of course, all this costs money to develop, and users are politely directed to Sailfish X, which is the "officially supported" version.

There is, of course, a free tier. But if you want access to all those Android apps in Jolla's preferred version, you'll have to part with some cold, hard cash. €49.90 to be exact.

Gemini users can pick up the OS for €29.90, but will lose Android app support and predictive text input (but keep the all-important Microsoft Exchange support).

If you've already ponied up the cash, you'll get updates "as long as the device is supported."

Indeed, Jolla is quite chuffed with that Android app support, and has stripped the "beta" tag from the functionality, declaring it "commercial quality" for the XA2 at least. The XA2 enjoys Android 8.1 (Oreo) support while the original Xperia X is stuck at 4.4 (KIt-Kat), something that has caused grumbling among the user community.

One remarked: "I replaced my Jolla 1 with what was then *the* reference phone [the Xperia X], to use for several years, and was expecting to receive updates on Android support as well. Now several essential Android apps don't work."

The company, which rose from the ashes of Nokia's MeeGo effort, has carved itself a niche as an alternative to more mainstream mobile options.

There is likely no small amount of quiet satisfaction floating around its halls that it has outlived Windows Mobile, for which it was unceremoniously dumped by Nokia.

The Russian government selected the software to form the basis of its own mobile platform in 2016, citing a desire for self-sufficiency and freedom from US technology.

The result was Avrova, a mobile operating system that might receive an unexpected boost at Google's expense should the current posturing by the US administration continue. Mutterings continue to circulate that beleaguered Chinese outfit Huawei is considering the platform in the event it loses access to Google's wares once and for all.

Jolla singled out the Open Mobile Platform in Russia for special thanks for version 3.1. ®

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