Customization is one of the stronger points of Android as a platform. However, for some, running a new launcher, installing SMS and calling app replacements, and rooting one’s device is not enough. Android’s open source underpinnings has actually been forked by manufacturers and developers so that they can deliver their own user experience and run their own platform. Take Amazon’s Fire OS, for example, or Nokia’s “X” platform.
In the recent years, another notable mobile OS is Jolla’s Sailfish OS. Jolla is a company formed by former Nokia employees, which was taken by observers as an indication that these folks are likely to be good at creating great hardware, coupled with an interesting user experience. After all, this was how Nokia had been known during the golden days of Symbian. [Update: Sailfish is not based on AOSP, but is rather based on Linux and Mer. Thank you for pointing this out.]
Not everyone is willing to spend for a new device or install a custom ROM just to test out a new user experience, however. Which is why Jolla has earlier announced an alpha program for running its Jolla Phone launcher, which essentially lets Android users try out the Sailfish UI without having to purchase a new phone.
Just recently, an XDA Developer member ported the Jolla Phone launcher for use on any device running Android 4.2 and up. Navigation involves swiping from the screen edges to access the app drawer, lock screen and access to previous screens — consistent with the Sailfish OS user experience. Users might notice that Sailfish normally does not come with on-screen navigation buttons, but these are still persistent in this alpha port.
Some users have reported errors and incompatibilities, however. For example, if you’re running on ART, the launcher may not run at all. Some devices will also have issues displaying notifications. Other users have reported the app forced-closing. Again, being in alpha one would expect these issues, especially as the original developers are also working on making their app (and ROM) compatible with as many devices possible.
Links to the APK download are available via XDA Developers, at the sources below. Have you tried out the Jolla Phone launcher? Tell us what you think about the interface in the comments section below.