Written by David McClelland for O2 Guru Technology Blog, find the original post here.
Mobile World Congress 2014 has been abuzz with talk of the $25 Firefox Phone, but just what is it and who will want one?
Many will know Mozilla Firefox as a popular and powerful open-source web browser for PC, Mac and Android smartphones.
With more of what we do every day taking place through the web — email, word processing and even gaming — it stands to reason that a web browser on its own might make a solid platform for an operating system. Just ask Google, whose Chromebook laptops run nothing more than the Google Chrome web browser yet accounted for 2 of the 3 best selling laptops at Amazon last Christmas and 20% of all notebooks sold in the US last year.
Firefox OS then is a fully-featured free operating system for mobile phones, tablets and even televisions complete with its own app store.
At Mobile World Congress this year there were several announcements from Mozilla, the not-for-profit organisation which develops Firefox, including availability of 7 new handsets running the Firefox OS.
At the moment the operating system is predominantly used in smartphones destined for developing markets such as India and Africa, seen as a potential upgrade path from the less-functional ‘feature phones’. Aside from the commercial lure for handset manufacturers to expand their business into countries not already saturated by smartphones, affordable devices such as those running Firefox OS can be enablers for individuals, providing easier access to online resources such as banking, learning and retail.
Among the new handsets announced this week is the ZTE Open II. A budget smartphone running the latest version 1.3 of Firefox OS it sports a 3.5-inch display, 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 2 megapixel camera and 256 MB of storage. Paltry specifications in comparison even to low end smartphones in maturer markets but, at the right price, it’s an affordable and attractive upgrade from a candy bar feature phone in many countries.
The so-called $25 Firefox Phone unveiled this week is another developing market device, although it won’t be available quite yet. Mozilla has, in collaboration with a mobile chipset supplier Spreadtrum, shown a prototype handset which it claims manufacturers will be able to build and retail for as little as $25. That’s right, just £15 for a smartphone.
Again, the specifications aren’t great — on your 15 quid phone you won’t even be able to download data over 3G networks, but as a relative experience it’s significantly better than the handsets they’re set to replace.
While it’s unlikely we’ll see a £15 Firefox Phone making a splash in the UK any time soon, other handsets running Firefox OS have been a hit closer to home, particularly in some Eastern European countries. And thanks to a partnership with Mozilla, Firefox OS is now set to power a new range of smart TVs from Panasonic Corporation — if only they could cost as little as £15… ^DM
First published 27th February 2014 on the O2 Guru Technology Blog. Articles, features and reviews are reproduced on this site by prior arrangement as samples of my work and remain the property of their respective publishers.
For the last two series of BBC One’s Consumer Affairs show Rip Off Britain I’ve appeared as the Telecoms and Technology Expert primarily offering hints and advice to the millions of mobile phone users in the UK.
This week sees the second season of its successful spin-off show, Rip Off Britain: Holidays, and once again I’m delighted to be on hand to help.
With Britain in the grip of one of the wettest and windiest winters in a generation our thoughts naturally turn to an escape abroad to warmer and sunnier climes.
However, in an increasingly connected society, among the challenges of travelling abroad is how safely to use your mobile phone without getting a nasty surprise from an unexpectedly large bill upon your return home – so-called ‘bill shock’.
This is just a short iPlayer excerpt from a longer item, to see the full shows visit the Rip Off Britain website.
The BBC has also published a downloadable guide featuring my handy hints for taking your mobile abroad which you can download here.
Rip Off Britain: Holidays broadcasts on BBC One at 11am each day from Monday 6th to Friday 10th January 2014, repeated the following weekday on BBC Two at 7am.
With head mounted displays such as Google Glass augmenting spectators’ viewing experiences off the field, and sportsmen and women on the field sporting connected shoes, belts and even gumshields, wearable technology is at the very heart of this sporting revolution.
Fast Forward from O2 Guru TV explores future technology and trends; in previous episodes I’ve been hands on with Oculus Rift for a Next Generation Gaming Special, visited the world’s largest 3D printer store for Future of 3D Special and visited the future at the Future Technology Zone at The Gadget Show Live.
To keep up to date with the latest technology news and features subscribe to O2 Guru TV.
*** LATEST NEWS *** I am joining the presenting team full-time for the all-new Planet of the Apps from summer 2014. Full update to follow.
Planet of the Apps is the top show on television for mobile apps and technology, and I’ve been a regular guest throughout this series.
Hosted by Adam Savage and produced by Ginx TV, Planet of the Apps airs on Challenge (Freeview channel 46) every Sunday at 10am. On Sunday 29th December I’ll be joining Adam on the sofa once again to review all that’s been good and great in tech during 2013.
This season I’ve appeared talking about how the Internet of Things will change our world, flying the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 quadricopter around Wormwood Scrubs and showing off what a professional smartphone filmmaking rig looks like:
Tune in to Planet of the Apps on Challenge on Sunday 29th December at 10am, or watch the repeat at 1am.
Nikki Dean is familiar to many as host of Strictly Come Dancing for BBC online or as regular gadget girl on Something for the Weekend.
However, it was in her alter-ego as a Brand Detective that I caught up with her last month at the Gadget Show Live London at Earl’s Court.
The Brand Detective is a leading gadgets and technology blog run by Nikki and her fellow detective Kelly Allen.
Keep up with The Brand Detectives’ latest antics over at www.thebranddetective.com.
Each Christmas I take a break from talking about technology on the telly and on the internet to run away to the theatre and appear in panto. This year I’m thrilled to be at The Cresset Theatre in Peterborough with Beauty and the Beast.
In this most magical of family shows I’m appearing as the Beast playing alongside Ricky Groves from EastEnders, Jackie Travers from Big Brother and the lovely Lucy-Jane Quinlan as Beauty.
Laugh-a-minute comedy and breathtaking dance routines feature alongside the classic story of love, good and evil. But to see whether this particular fairytale ends happily ever after you’ll have to come along to The Cresset Theatre and see for yourself!
Beauty and the Beast opens on Saturday 14th December 2013 and runs until Monday 30th December with two shows most days.
For dates and tickets visit the Cresset Theatre website. I hope to see you there!
Love it or loath it, and Apple’s products seem increasingly to polarise opinion, the annual iPhone release is a big day in most technology journalists’s diaries, mine included.
Yesterday I recorded a quick interview for ITV’s Daybreak and then first thing on launch day today I went hands-on to present both an iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c unboxing video for O2.
There’s no denying that they’re both accomplished and stylish handsets; as an iPhone 5 owner I was surprised at just how taken I was with the coloured polycarbonate-backed iPhone 5c. On the iPhone 5s the Touch ID fingerprint tech worked very well for me, and I’m interested to see how app developers will exploit the M7 motion coprocessor at 64-bit A7 processor.
Pop over to O2 Guru TV to watch my iPhone 5c unboxing video.
A brand new series of Rip Off Britain hits the BBC One schedules this September and once again I’ll be popping up as a guest expert to help disgruntled viewers with their telecoms and technology gripes.
As well as the hugely successful Pop Up Shop I worked on several items for the current series including a piece with my daughter Evie about in-app purchases on smartphones and tablets, plus a workshop with Gloria on top tips for using your mobile phone abroad.
Rip Off Britain has a great team of experts who, like me, regularly appear to help viewers who feel they have been victims of a rip-off. The team includes Dominic Baliszewski from Broadband Choices; Dr Jessica Barker, an independent cyber security expert; Sarah Pennells, founder of SavvyWoman.co.uk and The Independent’s Travel Editor, Simon Calder.
Series 5 of Rip Off Britain is on BBC One every day in September at 9:15am. You can catch up with whole show or watch individual clips on the BBC Rip Off Britain website.