Dogfooding: Flame on Nightly

Firefox OS FlameJust about two weeks ago, I got a Flame and have decided to use it as my primary phone and put away my Nexus 5. I’m running Firefox OS Nightly on it and so far have not run into any bugs so critical that I have needed to go back to Android.

I have however found some bugs and have some thoughts on things that need improvement to make the Firefox OS experience even better.

 

Keyboard

One thing that has really irked me while using Firefox OS 2.1 is the keyboard always shows capital letters even if you don’t have caps lock on and are typing lower case letters. This experience is not what I have grown used to while using Android for years and iOS before that. When typing my password into web apps it is confusing to not see a visual cue on the keyboard to let me know what casing I am inputting.

For whatever reason this was an intended feature and I honestly think this UX decision needs to be rethought because it just doesn’t feel natural.

 

Call Volume

On Firefox OS 2.1, at least in my experience, the max volume is totally inadequate because indoors, it sounds like the person on the other end of a call is whispering or talking quietly. Making or receiving a call outdoors or in a noisy environment is impossible. I filed a bug on this so hopefully it will be sorted.

 

Mail App

I like that the mail app is fast and nimble but the lack of having threaded e-mail conversations just leaves me wanting more. It would also be nice to be able to have a smart inbox like the GMail app on Android has since that is also my mail provider.

 

Social Media Apps

The Facebook and Twitter app both work better and luckily the Facebook web app has avoided many of the UI and feature changes Facebook has landed to its Android and iOS app so the experience is still good. One thing I do miss though is that I got notices on Android where currently the Facebook (Apparently Facebook is working on adding support) and Twitter apps on Firefox OS do not check for new messages on either platform and send notifications to your phone.

Additionally, it would really be nice to have a standalone Google+ packaged app in the marketplace since the current one I can add to the home screen seems a bit hit or miss and has some weird grey bar above the app which limits the app using the full screen resolution.

 

Overall Impression

I’m still using my Flame so none of the issues I have pointed out are making my phone unusable and I know that I am running a nightly unreleased version of Firefox OS so stability and issues are expected on Nightly. That being said, I’m really impressed by how polished the UI is compared to previous versions. Each time I get an OTA, I see more and more polish and improvements coming to certified apps.

I am really happy with the fact the Flame had dual SIM since I am traveling to Europe in a few weeks and can buy a SIM for a few euros if my T-Mobile International Roaming for some reason fails me.

I also know others who are not involved in the Mozilla community that are also using the Flame as their daily driver in North America, so that’s very optimistic to see people buying the Flame and dogfooding it on their own simply because they want a platform that puts the Open Web while also being Open Source.

Comments

  1. Michael Hall says

    “Firefox OS 2.1 is the keyboard always shows capital letters even if you
    don’t have caps lock on and are typing lower case letters. This
    experience is not what I have grown used to while using Android for
    years and iOS before that.”

    Actually I think that’s how the iOS keyboard works. At least I’ve heard plenty of complaints about their keyboard being like that.

    “One thing I do miss though is that I got notices on Android where
    currently the Facebook and Twitter apps on Firefox OS do not check for
    new messages on either platform and send notifications to your phone.”

    Is FFOS getting push notifications? While we have that now for Ubuntu, we’re also adding a temporary poll-daemon to check those services periodically until such time as they decide to send us push notifications themselves.

  2. Simon says

    An amusing note on passwords and mobile – when I first started using a smartphone, I found that I didn’t actually know what my password was. I knew which keys on a regular keyboard to press, and which ones to hold down Shift for, but that just left me trying to remember which symbol to enter for the character I remembered as “Shift+6″. The first time it happened, I literally had to go and find a desktop keyboard to look at…

    And I doubt I’m the only person who has experienced that problem…

  3. Tim Meader says

    Just a note that the iOS keyboard actually behaves the same way. Always has (with regards to capitalization). Not sure if you’re just recalling it incorrectly because you haven’t used iOS in a while or because using Android keyboards for a long time (which, I agree, do it “properly”) has changed your memory to assume that iOS MUST have been that way too… but no, they definitely have the same “caps only” letter layout.

  4. voracity says

    “One thing that has really irked me while using Firefox OS 2.1 is the keyboard always shows capital letters…”

    Typically, when the UX for Firefox/Fennec has changed, I always see a mix of positive and negative points to the change. I can’t think of a single positive point for this change. (Possibly perf, but surely not.) Does anyone know the rationale for this?

    • says

      I think it is likely perf I forgot the bug number and have tried finding it again but failed. I think I am just spending more time focusing on the shift key to ensure its colored (pressed) then I would if the keyboard visually represented this like on Android.

  5. says

    I completely agree on capital letters being confusing. I also learned within the first few hours on my newly arrived tablet that I’ve come to completely depend on the trackball on my HTC Wildfire for moving around in the text I’ve entered.

  6. suoko says

    What about password management of the browser? Does 2.1 got it? I’m on the 2.0 and find boring to enter passwords everytime both in the browser and in the apps. The only password firefoxos remembers is the one from the email app.

    • says

      I do not know specifically I know a few builds ago I had to re-authenticate for Twitter however Facebook seems persistent. I am guessing there is not any password management yet although I am now going a week solid without having to reauthenticate.