I finally got my hands around the new, shiny Jolla – I might've waited for it a bit, since it took about twenty minutes from the SMS telling me I can pick it up to the time I was holding it in my hands... Now that I've toyed with it for a few days, I thought I might open up a bit on how this fresh saviour of the Finnish mobile phone industry feels like.
I instantly thought the user interface is quite stylish and good-looking. During the first start-up the user is presented with a short tutorial on the phone's controls, which basically means different swipes and the clues on the screen that tell you what kind of actions are possible in this view. I don't recall having this kind of tutorial in my earlier phone, Nokia N9, and I think it's a very welcome addition.
There are clearly more ways to swipe than in N9; the functions differ based on if you swipe inside the screen or from outside the edge to the screen. This means that usage requires a bit of getting used to in order to get out of the old ways. Still, using the phone has become quite natural and I'm more comfortable with the control methods than with the N9.
Software and functionality
By default, only the store containing the Sailfish native software is shown. Unfortunately, this only contains a few software – although when I browsed the store just now I spotted many new applications that weren't there a few days ago, so it seems that the selection's constantly getting better.
Quite a few of the near-standard applications of the phone are also separately installed via the store: Separate installation is needed for things such as calendar, calculator and the clock application. To clarify, these are indeed applications made by Jolla themselves, but it seems that they want to give the user the opportunity to not install any unnecessary applications – which for me sounds like a good idea!
At this stage there are a few things lacking from Jolla's own applications also: For example the calendar application doesn't feature any kind of sync to other systems, which makes it pretty pointless, at least for me. I certainly hope that these kinds of shortcomings are fixed soon – there have been a few updates to the software already, so it seems that there is definitely hope!
One of the good things about Jolla is also one often-quoted feature, running Android applications on the platform side-by-side with native Sailfish applications. This is a very necessary addition to the Sailfish native applications especially at these early stages of adoption. Installing Android applications happens by first installing the Yandex store to the phone and then using it to search and install any applications. The Yandex store has quite a bit wider selection of software, but unfortunately even it doesn't have anything. Officially Google Play store, which would be the place to go crazy with software, is not officially available for Jolla (although less surprisingly someone has already fixed this).
Most of the applications found on Yandex work great: I already found Spotify, password manager aWallet and ebook reader Aldiko. Unfortunately some Android applications don't at least currently work as expected: Not one of the about ten call recorder applications I tried were functional, neither were a barcode scanner, voice recorder or the official Foursquare client.
In whole, I'm satisfied. The user interface is stylish and works for me, and even the functionalities keep on getting better. However I wouldn't recommend Jolla for the impatient users; I tried to move my contacts from the N9 to Jolla today, and first it looked that the sync worked just great – although I did spot at least one name I was unable to find even after something like five syncs.
There are some small shortcomings, but unlike with the N9 with Jolla one can find ease on the fact that the manufacturer has promised to actively develop the platform. I'm eagerly waiting for the improvements to come :)