We bought a smart-phone !

The ZTE Open powered by Boot2Gecko (B2G)

The ZTE Open powered by Boot2Gecko (B2G)

The World Wide Semantic Web team just made the acquisition of a smart-phone! … but it’s not any smart phone 😉

It’s a FirefoxOS-powered phone from ZTE. One of the early devices being pushed by the Mozilla foundation, and the only one in stocks now, which sells for 60 pounds from the UK store. This is a low-entry phone with basic processor, screen, etc. The most interesting thing is that is runs FirefoxOS: when powered-up the device boots up a very tiny linux-based system “gonk” which opens a Gecko (Firefox’s alternative to Webkit) window, and all the rest is pure Web technologies (HTML5/CSS/Javascript) !

From the camera app to the mail client everything is wrote with Web technologies. There is no native code involved at any time. You may want to look at the bootstrap app code and consult this nice documentation, or that one, to get some more information. There exist two distribution channels for web apps: hosted like a web site or packaged for installation (that is, all the site content in a zip). Many of these Web Apps can already be found on the marketplace.

The main development environment for the apps is the app-manager shipped with Firefox. Just open the special page “about:app-manager” (or look into the “Web Developer” menu) in a recent (>= 26) version to try it out! It also comes with a device simulator 🙂

The APIs used within apps are being standardised by the W3C. There is a group for the Web Apps concept and the system interfaces. For example, the recommendation for the manifest file that describes the app and lists the access rights can be found as a github-hosted W3C draft. So once you coded a Web App, you’re done. Just like you are with a web site. Your Web App will run on anything that implements the W3C recommendations correctly!

I already shared a lot of links but some more interesting things are a check-in app for Foursquare (see especially the part about using OAuth2 on FFOS and the list of access rights in the manifest) and the UI guide. There are also instructions to install the OS on not supported but working devices.

Please don’t hesitate to ping me, or someone else from the WWSemWeb group, if you want to play with the phone and see how to code on it 😉

I am a researcher mainly interested in : architectures for publishing, consuming and preserving Linked Open Data in low-resource contexts; complex systems; education; data visualisation; video games

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One comment on “We bought a smart-phone !
  1. […] you know we bought a very cool phone to play around with Firefox OS but that’s not all, we also bought a Nexus 7 edition 2013. […]

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