Tim: Benjamin, you have a Firefox OS phone in front of you.
Benjamin: I do. I have a Firefox OS developer phone.
Tim: How is that you happen to have one?
Benjamin: So as Mozilla rep, one of my contributions for the Mozilla community is to evangelize different products and projects that Mozilla has. So I am here at Linuxfest Northwest just evangelizing the Firefox OS platform and that’s how I happened to get my hands on one of these phones. I am also a contributor to Firefox OS project itself.
Tim: You are also a contributor to other open source software being done?
Benjamin: I am. I am also an Ubuntu developer.
Tim: So the phone you’ve got, can you talk about what distinguishes Firefox OS from the other bigger name players right now in the phone OS world?
Tim: Now as a browser, Firefox obviously, to read and interpret HTML, HTML5 now, what else does it take to make a phone, with that as the base?
Tim: People have gotten used to so many things in smart phones like the ability to take pictures to take movies – where does the Firefox OS sit right now in those kind of capabilities?
Benjamin: Firefox OS is like any other mobile phone. It has a great camera. I would say it is comparable to Android in taking photos and video. And it works great. It is fast. It has a great interface.
Tim: People also tend to install a lot of apps, because that is what a smart phone lets you do. If somebody has a favorite app, is it likely that they will find its equivalent right now on Firefox, or where does that infrastructure fit?
Benjamin: So I would say that Firefox OS is apps eco system. We call it the Marketplace. It is still young, it is still an early start, so we’ve got Twitter, we’ve got SoundCloud, we’ve got AirbnB, we’ve got a lot of popular names as far as apps and Marketplace is growing all the time. And of course, Mozilla is out there supporting app developers to porting their apps over from Android and iOS to HTML5. So that app development and support is occurring all over the globe right now. So we are going to see a lot of apps entering the Marketplace at a good pace.
Tim: For some apps that are basically websites, things like Google as a search engine, and Airbnb that you mentioned, they want traffic to get to them, but what about people who develop apps in order to make money on the Android Marketplace or the iOS world? Is there a way for people who want to make software make money for them in Firefox?
Benjamin: My understanding is that the plan is to eventually support paid apps; I believe that it is already there, but there aren’t any paid apps yet. So there will be the potential for making revenue. Of course, you could also potentially put advertisements inside of your apps to support those apps without charging for them.
Tim: And Firefox the browser gets money as everyone knows, you’ve got an agreement with Google, where search engine hits are generated that way. Is it the same here with the phone?
Benjamin: I don’t know what the arrangement is for that. My understanding is they have a set contract for the Firefox browser; now that is not something I was told, but it is just my understanding of their arrangement, so I would think because Firefox OS is so new that it is not part of the arrangement with Google right now but it could be as Firefox OS takes off. I am imagining that eventually that will be something that they discuss and negotiate with.
Tim: When it comes to carriers, what is your network coverage that people need if they get one of these phones that are now becoming commercially available? What do they need, that you can get on the network?
Benjamin: So right now, you just need a SIM card, of course it only supports certain frequencies right now this phone specifically supports T-mobile. I am not sure if the Geeksphone is one of the first OEM partners that is launching, and they’ve actually already sold out. And I believe that that would also support T-mobile. And I am thinking that with all the different OEM partners out there and the carrier partners which is Sprint and T-mobile that we are going to see it open up to more carriers as we go, and maybe even get a CDMA model especially with that Sprint partnership.
Tim: At the back of your phone, you have got a sticker, can you hold that up to the camera a little bit?
Tim: That says, “B2G Test Drivers”. Could you talk about that?
Benjamin: Yeah, sure B2G Test Drivers is just a program that’s within the Firefox OS initiative to get people doing some QA testing and hacking on Firefox OS early. B2G was a codename for Firefox before the name was changed to Firefox OS, and so it still has that code name, and that is still used as a reference in the community.
Tim: And your phone is not certified by the FCC - the one in your hand?
Benjamin: No it is not.
Tim: But it works fine on a T-mobile network.
Benjamin: Yes it does. You can make calls with it. This one with the SIM card on this, is having airtime, but yeah, the calls work great, Wi-Fi works, everything works on this right now. All the apps that are here, there is no place for other apps like Ubuntu Touch or something like that. Everything is working right out of the box right now.
Tim: What do you find for battery life?
Benjamin: Because the apps are so lightweight, with HTML5, we found that the battery life is actually pretty exceptional. I get better battery life than Android on my Galaxy Nexus. So battery life is pretty good.
Tim: If you don’t mind Benjamin, let’s walk through some of the apps that are on that device.
Benjamin: Okay. So right now we are at the home screen of Firefox OS. As you can see, we’ve got the dialer, messaging, contacts, and of course, the Firefox browser. If you move directly over to the right with a swipe, you’ve got settings, FM radio, Gallery - so you can see images that you’ve taken with the camera app; and Marketplace; and also HERE Maps which is the map application for Firefox OS. If you go into the right here, you’ve got some basic apps like your social media; these are like bookmarks to the mobile sites for the various sites, and then if you go back over here, you go to Marketplace, I don’t know if it is I am going to try to load it here, Wi-Fi is kind of bad, but it is loading.
We’ve got a Marketplace where you can actually install some apps instead of just going to the website. As you can see we’ve got Twitter, SoundCloud, Airbnb, HERE Maps which is already installed, Wired it has got an app, we’ve got an MTV app, AccuWeather - so you can check your weather, Pulse News- which is really a cool app, I’ve been using it even on Android but it is great to have it on Firefox OS. It is going to make the transition a lot better. As you can see, we’ve also got categories, there are quite a bit of games.
Some of these games are really fun, I have found them to be just as good as the ones on Android one of my favorites is Jewels right here. So as you can see, we’ve got a pretty decent app ecosystem already. And with the support for developers, specifically app developers, we are going to see more and more apps being ported over especially knowing that there are already people out there like Twitter that have ported apps. That is basically Firefox OS. And you guys can buy a Geeksphone through one of the partners and go on and try it out, or you can also flash it on to a Galaxy Nexus device, so the instructions are on Mozilla.org.