Compatibility or not as a development priority?



  • @Flohack said in most wanted core apps to run ubuntu as daily phone OS:

    @WLBI Yes basically you are right but: Just bringing in Android apps makes us not much better than current Android. In fact, those apps will be a little slower, and some of them might not work, because we might not be able to bring in all APIs. You also are then again bound to the race of updating everything in the same tempo as Google.

    This is the hardest part, but I personally do not think that Android compatibility should be a priority. Its nice to have Anbox, but it will not save us form developing a good unique selling proposition.

    From the telegram group, M K wrote:

    Actually that would be the last nail in the coffin for Ubuntu. Never, ever develop compatibility if you are the underdog.

    I agree on that. The killer feature is Convergence and having all Linux desktop Apps also running on the phone with only minor adaptions necessary. Everything else is old news for consumers.

    Really a good question. In my opinion compatibility to Android would be important to gain users. If Anbox would be a core app developed by the Anbox team, the UBports developers can concentrate on direct ubuntu development



  • As I stated in the other thread - in my opinion the drawbacks are not worth it.

    1. We will never manage to have the compatibility enough to run the apps people need (Snapchat, Messenger, Services) well enough - we would need a whole lot of Android's bits.
    2. For those that could work flawless it will be probably easy enough to create a native counterpart.
    3. Sailfish had the company doing it, free software, wayland, its own phone and Android app compatibility. It failed. And I've never come up for an article saying "look what awesome app is being developed for Sailfish!"
    4. The reason is simple: If I can run Android app and use it (even if it looks out of place and not everything works), then why should I care for native ones?


  • I believe we need to ask ourselves another, more fundamental question: who are we talking to?
    Who are we willing to develop for: the careless, uneducated, social-media addicted mass or the tech-savvy and FLOSS-oriented (albeit less substantial) base of already existing GNU/Linux users?

    My personal opinion is that we'd rather deliver to the latter and build our future on rock-solid foundations and world class code quality rather than chasing after people who do not know nor care about open source, just for the sake of sticking a flag on the top of all-too-crowded Mount Social Media.


  • Community

    Why does it have to be one or the other, when we can do both? The other selling points of Ubuntu Touch don't magically go away just because it can also run android apps.

    Having Android app compatibility helps lower the entry bar for many users. I'm not talking about the general public and people without any interest in Linux and free software, i'm talking about Linux users that still need (not because they want to use them, because they have to) certain apps, like WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc. Even some UBports team member even carry an iPhone or Android phone additionally to their Ubuntu Touch device with them in order to use these (not pointing fingers here). That is ridiculous, and if we can avoid that, why wouldn't we? Sure, you can dislike these apps, but if you need WhatsApp for your work, what are you going to do about it?

    Another thing that is disregarded in my opinion is the open nature of this project. A (imho) unique selling point of Ubuntu Touch is the fact, that it let's you use your phone like a real computer. I'm not talking about attaching a screen, mouse and keyboard here, i'm talking about the open nature of the OS. You should be allowed to run whatever weird-ass piece of software you find, just like on the Linux desktop. And Anbox already works on the Linux desktop (in fact, it already works more or less on the phone as well), so artificially breaking compatibility would seem really weird to me. If i want to run something on my phone, who the f*ck are you to tell me not to do so?

    The argument that Android compatibility would discourage developers from creating native apps for Ubuntu Touch is only valid up to a certain point. Big for-profit companies don't care about Ubuntu Touch, the market is way too small for that. There won't be a native Whatsapp client, there won't be a Netfilx app, that's just how it is. Again, you can go all Stallman about it and say that you don't want to use these services anyways (and you are probably right), but until there are alternatives, it is kind of necessary for many people.

    What's also disregarded in the discussion about the unavailability of Google Mobile Services is how many apps work perfectly fine without them. 2300+ free and open source apps from f-droid change the math a lot. Also, many of the Apps from Google Play are available as Apk downloads, and can be used without Google Mobile Services.

    Last but not least, i want to remind you a) how hard it is to develop Apps for Ubuntu Touch at the moment (ask @DanChapman, he will sing you a song about it) and b) how much work it is to maintain the SDK. UBports only has a very small and busy team, so having Android compatibility just takes the pressure of for now. It is by far not an ideal solution, but it could help a lot of people using Ubuntu Touch as a daily driver, and that's what we're aiming at after all. We don't want (and we won't) make Ubuntu Touch just another Android rom, we have unique advantages that won't go away. We will still have native apps. But having Android compatibility is the right decision for now.



  • @NeoTheThird I perfectly understand your point, but temporary solutions have this nasty habit of turning permanent when you're not looking, that's all.



  • Artificially breaking compatibility is definitely a bad idea. IMO the best option would be to allow Anbox work as a third-party app - if you want it, you can download it from the store and use it - but not as a core functionality of the OS.

    Would it be possible to be distributed as as a click or snap in the open store?

    But one is inevitable - once option to install Android Apps appears, there will be much less (not none at all, but less) reasons to develop native apps. Telegram client for Ubuntu Touch for sure would have never been developed if users could just run the Android version.



  • @NeoTheThird said in Compatibility or not as a development priority?:

    The other selling points of Ubuntu Touch don't magically go away just because it can also run android apps.

    +1


  • Infrastructure

    @Mitu said in Compatibility or not as a development priority?:

    Artificially breaking compatibility is definitely a bad idea. IMO the best option would be to allow Anbox work as a third-party app - if you want it, you can download it from the store and use it - but not as a core functionality of the OS.

    Would it be possible to be distributed as as a click or snap in the open store?

    But one is inevitable - once option to install Android Apps appears, there will be much less (not none at all, but less) reasons to develop native apps. Telegram client for Ubuntu Touch for sure would have never been developed if users could just run the Android version.

    Yeah, no artificial breaking. What will work will work - means, if Anbox can be packaged and installed, people will use it. Still its an early alpha or beta, I expect much harder problems coming its way like: GPU accelerated rendering (games), access to hardware, exchange of data between applications (will not work between Ubuntu app and Android app currently, attach a photo from Ubuntu camera to Android Telegram? not easily possible), push notifications, button emulation. Just a few.

    If someone can convince me that its just installing Anbox and then on top the Android App, I will conclude that its a way to go. But expect Anbox to take some time until it can even reach parity with F-Droid requirements.

    Summary: Anbox is a separate project, we shall provide an installable version as snap package, maybe also as click. But for the legacy devices which will only support click packages I doubt that Anbox will iron out all the things I mentioned before.

    BR



  • For me the main thing for compatibility is not to run apps which need huge ressources. There you are right, this should be ubuntu apps. And this also because of an self confident compettitive approach.

    But all those specific apps like phillips hue or an energy management app my company is currently developing with a software partner are only available for Android or iOS. Those are making live beautiful even if not depending much on resources so they can run in a container like Anbox



  • Android compatibility brings the Android users, who will publicly attack the OS for not letting them enjoy the full Google experience.
    Nothing enrages people like unmet expectations, so best to manage it from the outset by simply making it incompatible.
    As for a device not being useful without apps, its a matter of focus: what can I do with this device that’s a massive PITA with an Android? For me (I hope) its secure work: like real n900-superphone-level work.



  • I don't want Android apps in UBports.

    For those who want a mixed Android experience there's LineageOS, and for those who want a full Android experience there's, well, Android.

    Please keep UBports as free as possible of Android and Google claws (yes I know about the mandatory layers that we can't avoid for now. Let's hope we'll be free from Google someday).



  • I completely agree with @NeoTheThird, I think his post is absolutely spot on.

    This discussion reminds me of the wine discussions on the desktop. The reality is that people will make it work, because they have a desire to run all the software need on this phone without having to rely on a secondary device just for the odd android app.

    On the desktop wine allowed me to completely ditch windows and still play games for years before steam opened their doors on Linux. I think with android we have a similar situation. The goal is to free your phone and turn it from a jailed toy into a general purpose computing device which respects the freedom of the user to run whatever he likes. It is probably not a good idea to replace apple or google just with some other guy who dictates what you can and can not do on the device you purchased.

    I think the real question is if this should be a core-app. My personal opinion if I may, is that this should not be a core app and that this should always be optional as an app in the openstore. This way the purist can run his pure system and stay completely away from anything android and the pragmatist can ditch android and use ubports as his daily device while still enabled to run the odd android app he may need.



  • @ZeroPointEnergy I think so too. Anbox can be very nice, and i'll use it for sure to get around the lack of some specific application, but the core applications should be pure native i think.


  • Infrastructure

    I also answered in the other thread like this: https://forums.ubports.com/topic/316/android-apps-to-run-in-ut/18



  • This is a tricky one and I totally agree with 99% of the posts. However, I do believe that the core apps should be minimal and native, (with native being the main word here). Yes, there is a need for Anbox, but let’s keep that for the people who want to download it and run their Android apps. Just like “Wine” is in the Ubuntu desktop. We can talk about this all we want, but the fact of the matter is that people have come to expect certain apps and if we want this great os to get anywhere we need to also offer them, be it in a native format. We cannot get away from the fact that people both use and have the right to use what they want. The old chestnut “Whatsapp” being a being a prime example of this, my work use this all the time and there is no way of getting them to move to Telegram. So I too would have to carry two phones around, just so I can use a few apps that I need to on an Android phone. The one great thing about Ubuntu desktop is that you can get native apps for everything you would want to do in Windows and often they are far better. We need to get to that situation.



  • Compatability has to be in the core in some form.

    To me theres no realistic way without compatability.

    I gave up on my ubuntu mx4 and now use the mx meizu flyme android because of............the money.

    Not linux/Android/freedom, like/dislike discussions, but simply because I would have to have two phones: To operate with my banking, reading danish newspapers, see danish television, use the danish mobilePay, use the phone with online ticketing for bus/train - a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with "hobbyist" fiddling with philosophical linux/windows/android speculations but all to do with very everyday digitalizations of very soon everything in daily life.

    And all those local institutions in all countries are NOT going to create linux compatible versions of their apps.
    But they are going to be even more necessary to have access to.

    That leaves the discussions with no choice - if the UBport is going to be anything else than a utopian/idealistic project, it will have to cooperate with a lot of android apps.


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