GNOME Mobile: bringing the desktop and the internet together

I could go the cliche route: the world is changing.

I could go the proverbial route: we're the proverbial frog in the pot being boiled alive.

Or I could just try to explain what I see.

The browser, the internet and the desktop are merging, and while I think we'll work it out eventually, I think we need to work hard to make sure we work it out with a free and open source solution first. (We need to solve the problem before Apple or Microsoft and make sure our solution is a great one!)

Actually I think the internet has already changed everything and the browser has been playing the go between between the internet and the desktop for a long time now.

Mozilla has been working on bringing the internet to users and because of them users know what this new use model can look like – they've tasted what it's like to have seamless integration between at least the browser on your desktop and the application.

GNOME is working on it. Partially with GNOME Mobile and partially with GNOME 3.0.

While most people outside of GNOME Mobile probably think of cell phones when they think of mobile, GNOME Mobile is really about making the desktop fit the new form factors (phones, netbooks, devices, …) and making it work well with a non traditional user interface. And more often than not the nontraditional user interface is a small screen connecting the user to the internet.

In PCMag Tim Bajarin says:

To stay competitive, Microsoft
will need to adapt the core OS to make it desirable for use in all
devices in the home. The company's edge could be in the way it designs
future operating systems,
making devices talk to each other in ways that deliver powerful
networking and integrated communications. Those features will become
more important to a connected home of the future.

I'm glad that Linux and GNOME have already been doing this for a number of years.

Now I think the next step is not making them talk together but making the parts into one seamless user experience. The average iPhone user probably doesn't think about maps as an application on their phone, a browser and some data out there somewhere. It's just maps. It's there on their phone when they need it. If they have a big server in their home, they're not going to want to worry where dad stashed the movies on the hard drive, they just want to see the movies they have, with all the data about each movie and actor pulled from the internet.

A smartphone user no longer really cares about their operating system, they care about what the phone can do, what apps they can put on it. So it's up to us, those building the operating system, desktop, and applications to make sure they all work together to make applications users want.

So why am I harping on this? Because I see lots of work going into the desktop. I see lots of work going into the browser. I see lots of work going into the apps. But I don't see lots of requests coming from application developers to the GNOME Mobile team. Or lots of conversations happening between different application developers, desktop developers and browser developers.

PurpleslogWe provide GNOME Mobile as building blocks for mobile devices but it won't meet users' needs unless there's more interaction and more conversation between the device manufacturers, GNOME Mobile, the browser developers and the application developers.

Like I said yesterday, it's important we understand the new user model and develop for it.

So come join the conversation. GNOME Mobile is one place. Bringing the power of the desktop to devices of all shapes and sizes.

The GNOME Online Desktop project is another. They are working on bringing internet apps and data to the traditional desktop.

Please feel free to suggest others.

Frog in a pot picture by purpleslog.

7 Replies to “GNOME Mobile: bringing the desktop and the internet together”

  1. I could not agree more with you!
    I hope those conversations will make all the different players of this “game” to realize that working together is a must nowadays!
    Good to point it out!

  2. Why are the internet and the browser different? I mean, the internet is a physical network and the browser merely a portal to content and applications residing on the internet.
    So your chair now has two legs, first rule of stability is an object with three legs is inherently stable, seconds rule an object with two legs is stable only when moving…
    I think, in that, I’ve imparted the zen of what we should be doing in this arena 🙂

  3. Actually, I see the browser as representative of apps that access data and info on the web but have a desktop interface. Browser, twitter applications, IM applications, some email apps, ….

  4. Really though, it’s all internet, the applications aren’t the browser, the browser is just a window onto them. Browser applications don’t really have a desktop interface at all, they have a web interface and _THE_ browser shell. These things are dramatically different in technology and representation, although with things like Adobe AIR and webkit are kinda merging together anyway…
    If you’re to call the browser a separate entity, then you should also include every other way of retrieving or serving content or apps from the internet at large. For instance would a widget/gadget (small web apps which run on the desktop) be another leg (for an object with four legs each must be equidistant from the standing surface)? Or would you still classify them as browser, even though they aren’t browser based, they use the same rendering technology and the same transfer protocols but the presentation is different. Browser is therefore completely null, it’s all just internet.
    The point I was trying to make is; If an application resides on the web, and there’s an accompaniment application that’s on the desktop, the two should push each other forward. The destkop driving the internet while the internet drives the desktop. When I say internet, I’m using the term a little too broadly I admit, I’m not talking about the wires, I’m talking about services and applications, from telnet to imap and beyond.
    Take for example conduit. Conduit can communicate with lots of internet services and pull/push data around between them.
    FYI, Steve Jobs used the 3 legged chair metaphor to demonstrate that apple was stable, that they’re not completely reliant on a single revenue stream and that made investors happy.
    Stable is not the metaphor I’d choose for this, to stay with the legs thing, I’d choose walking, and maybe throw in a little newton with “An object in motion remains in motion”

  5. What I’ve always found strange is that I never really found a good tool for synchronizing your Linux-powered devices with your Linux-powered desktop. You would expect something more when you have access to all sourcecode. I think there is still a lot to win with synchronization.

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