Attention all N900 owners, the Developer edition of MeeGo was previewed at the MeeGo Conference in San Fransisco today. This edition is a developer targeted release for the N900 and as far as we know this is the only official release for the handset, though I’m sure through the Maemo and MeeGo communities, there will be a release of the full versions that work on it. It is expected that this release may be limited in scope and not all functions will work 100%, and after listening and watching the live stream, that seems to be where things are at.
From the talk today the N900 release project right now is MeeGo 1.2 plus some other stuff, and includes some great contributions by the community like the dialer and the Camera UI, which wasn’t originally part of the target for this release but huge progress was made after a community member took on the task in his own time.
There are some apps available to run on the device and Opera have a development preview version of Opera 11 available now.
The process for development has been very open and there’s lots of documenting going on in the Wiki and forums plus communication on IRC. They have tried to develop this as if they were there hardware vendor, although with a difference. Early on they met and talked about if anything should be closed and couldn’t find anything so it really is open and they are encouraging new developers to get involved and make a contribution, and those contributions don’t have to be code, just try it out and give feedback, or add to the wiki or whatever you want.
You can create apps and it supports QtQuick and the MeeGo SDK. Qt Quick works very well and is excellent for creating professional UI’s very quickly. Developing the release for ARM/the N900 has been a bigger challenge than some expected but it’s coming together.
The core use cases may still have some bugs and the browser may be a bit slow at times. but this is the current list of what works right now:
● Qt/Qt Quick and MeeGo SDK
● Core use cases, with known issues
● Cellular voice calls
● SMS text messages
● Camera (with autofocus)
● WLAN and Fennec browser
● Handset UX for launching applications & settings
These are areas for improvement
● Device system performance, optimizations
● Applications (email, multimedia, calendar)
● Virtual keyboard (VKB)
● HW keypad layout support
● Browser alternatives
● UI usability (or a new UI)
For localization, there is a tool available for developers to add their own translations so one way to contribute is to add a translation.
The UI needs some usability tweaks although if you have a great idea for a UI, as it’s QtQuick, you can create your own if you want.
The current UI was very briefly demoed. At present there is a static toolbar below a swipe enabled set of home-screens. In landscape the toolbar takes up about 1/4 of the screen height, and we didn’t see the home screen in portrait. The dialer looks nice and usable, and he also showed the camera although the brief time that would have been on screen was not clear to me via the web stream.
There was a second UI demo on another N900, which turned out to be the Tablet version of MeeGo and was said to have a few issues but work well in general. I believe i saw that both portrait and landscape.
It was stressed that right now the project is for developers only and not for regular N900 users. It turns out even as developers they use MeeGo as secondary right now, and the versions they are working on are for SD cards and not to overwrite Meamo. They hope to have a milestone release in Summer (before their summer break in June?) and there are new daily builds available.
They talked about the next steps and it seems for now the real issues to be worked on are around improving performance and memory issues.
Lastly, they really want people to join the project and say there will be help. It’s a bit of organized chaos and not for control freaks. Come to IRC to participate (#meego-arm), and read the wikis and the forums (can be a bit of a maze to get info sometimes because so much is there apparently) and join the mailing lists, but everyone is welcome and there are things anyone can do.
Early on there was a hint that sounded like Nokia were still involved, and I missed another bit that sounded like Nokia’s involvement would get more of a mention as I had to take a call, and at the end a question was asked about Nokia’s MeeGo release and the presenter seemed like he really didn’t want to talk about it.
I hate to say it, but with the talk being of “Organized chaos” and project management being of having a list of features and one day, someone has done it, it wouldn’t surprise me if the things like this were part of the reason Nokia dropped the platform. Not that these are not good developers with huge commitment to the work, they are, but hearing that and seeing the progress on this vs hearing about the more recent work on Windows Phone and even Symbian, you wonder if Nokia felt they needed to have more control than perhaps they had. Nokia’s MeeGo device will likely be “harmatten” (a Maemo/MeeGo hybrid ) or MeeGo core with their own upper layers to it, like WeTab did.
Still, there was some good progress on some things but also a feeling like this is not as far along as they wanted it to be, and is a long way away from being a viable mobile/cell phone operating system. It has also sounded like from the other bits I’ve seen and read, the other versions are further along, so while we thought MeeGo would be powering cell phones this year, we may find more proliferation in tablets, netbooks, TVs, cars and embedded devices first.
So if you want, go ahead and get involved. The release for the N900 sounds like it will be available before the end of June and will be for SD card dual boot only (apparently it’s too big for the NAND memory) and will void your warranty if you use it so they are really stressing that you use it at your own risk.
The conference session intro page is at