Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Five hundred days using Ubuntu Phone

Today is my five hundredth day of using the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition exclusively as my mobile phone. This is a nice piece of hardware (good power, good camera and simple but elegant design).

Here's what I've learnt.

I have written a bunch of phone apps you can install and blogged it. Writing for the Ubuntu phone is by far the easiest platform I've developed for. Click packaging works really well and the speed at which you can release to the Ubuntu store and get the update on your phone is incredible. QML allows you to build beautiful apps quickly however can be a challenge when apps get more complicated. Qt / C++ is functional, but feels lacking compared to more modern languages. If I could get Swift and an improved QML working together I'd be very happy. I initially used the Ubuntu SDK for building and deplying the apps but have now switched to doing everything on the command line (I've never found an IDE that doesn't feel over-engineered).

There's more than enough apps in the store to keep me happy. In fact, I have installed far more apps than I ever did on my Android phone. I think that is because I really trust the Ubuntu store in a way I never did in Android (too much crap there).

I initially thought webapps wouldn't be useful but they're a good option when there's no native app. I use webapps for social networking and news sites and am pretty happy with that. They're definitely not as good as a native app but feel slightly more integrated than just visiting using your web browser.

Scopes. I can see there's something there in the concept but even though I've tried I've never found them useful. The only scope I have is the app scope (i.e. the traditional grid of applications). I'm hoping a few more iterations and they will find a place on my phone.

Love getting updates. Both system and app updates occur frequently and bring improvements. Unless you had a Nexus device you are more or less abandoned in the Android world - with Ubuntu the complete opposite.

The polish is not quite there compared to Android, but it's getting better quickly. There's little quirks / crashes that are annoying but nothing that stops me from using it all day. A couple more releases and the unforgiving mainstream will be able to thrash it too.

Here's to another five hundred days!
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