Again a year has passed, and now we are already at year 2024. We are mostly back from vacations. This weeks fortnight focuses mostly on the apps. However, before we get to that, let me polish my crystal ball, as I’m trying to predict what might happen on Sailfish OS this year. As we already had a look at the year 2023 in the previous newsletter, I’m not going to do it again this time.
Those of you who attended the previous community meeting, or read the logs, are aware that we are working on quite a few larger items. It is quite likely that all of them will not be ready in time for the first release of the year. Instead they will arrive when they have been declared mature for a release.
5G support is something that some of us have been already waiting for a while. The network operators have been upgrading their networks, and 5G starts to be available in many places. It provides more bandwidth and less latency, so having support in Sailfish OS is something that many would enjoy. We are still missing some glue between Sailfish OS and AppSupport, but it’s definitely in the pipeline.
Developers are probably happy to hear that we have been working on upgrades to compilers and other tools. For GCC we are working on upgrading it to version 10. The old version is 8.3, so this is already quite a leap. The new version provides too many features to list, but improved support for new C++ standards is something that I’m personally looking forward to. rubdos and direc85 from our community have been working on upgrading LLVM and Rust - they have already managed to build stuff with new versions, we just need to make sure that we do not break Gecko and integrate the changes. And CMake we already upgraded to 3.27.1 - so this should definitely be part of the next release.
Many of you have followed flypig’s efforts at upgrading Gecko. It’s a huge task for a single contributor. Thus, it’s pleasant to see that you have been supporting flypig and helping with the effort. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s definitely progressing at a good velocity.
The abovementioned changes are only some of the numerous upgrades, improvements and bug fixes that are in preparation. From my point of view they are the big ones. Your point of view may be different, and it’s quite likely that I didn’t mention something that is important to you. Nevertheless, we are on this journey together, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in the upcoming months!
Happy new year for everybody!
While the Christmas and New Year period may see a lull in newsletter activity, when it comes to app developments we’re always happy to see the opposite. Maybe it’s the extra energy from all the nice food and celebrations, maybe it’s time off from other activities, or maybe the cold weather for us in the northern hemisphere is getting everyone to spend more time indoors behind a computer… whatever the reason it’s good to see all the new apps and third party tools being developed during the Winter period.
As is now the tradition I’ll pick out four apps that have caught my eye recently and this time we’re going for new releases. The first in my queue is rather an unusual one, because it’s not really an app at all. Instead, I want to draw your attention to the release of Chum Web from Chris Josten (ahappyhuman). The site offers a searchable list of all of the apps available from the Chum repositories.
If you’re not familiar with Chum now might be a good time to get up-to-speed. Chum offers one of the four main ways to install native apps for your Sailfish OS device, these being:
If you’re looking to install Android apps for use with AppSupport then there are other options as well (for example Aptoide, F-Droid or the Aurora Store), but we’re just focusing on native apps today.
All of the options for installing native apps offer slightly different characteristics. The official store contains only apps that have passed the rigorous Jolla quality control checks. These ensure that apps have been built correctly and satisfy checks related to good behaviour on your device. The Jolla Store includes both open-source and close-source software.
In contrast all software available from the Chum repositories is built using the Community OBS servers. Consequently everything available from Chum must have source code available for it publicly. The software doesn’t have to pass the same build and runtime checks as the software on the Jolla Store, but on the other hand all of the code is available to be checked by anyone who wants to.
Up until now if you wanted to know whether a particular piece of software was available in the Chum repository you’d have had to either search on the Chum Community OBS site or make use of the excellent Chum GUI app on your phone. Sometimes it’s more convenient to use a website built especially for the purpose, and this is exactly what Chum Web does.
Not only does it allow search for applications and packages, it also pulls the metadata from the repositories to provide extra app information including logos, screenshots and licence information.
The idea reminds me a little of the highly unofficial and no-longer maintained Josh web mirror catalogue of the Jolla Store created by Yura Beznos (Zhiz0id) back in 2017. In contrast to this, Chum Web pulls its data directly from the repositories and so keeping it updated doesn’t require manual intervention: the catalogue should always contain the most up-to-date information. It looks like it will be a great new front-end to the excellent Chum repositories.
While we’re on the topic of Chum it’s also worth noting that the Chum GUI app has also seen recent updates with version 0.6.6 having been released just before Christmas and that prevents a bug that could cause crashes for packages without descriptions.
The second item I want to look at today is not just all app, it’s also an all new app for Sailfish OS. Believe it or not when IMDb (the now Internet Movie Database) first started it wasn’t a website, but rather a non-commercial, community-maintained database available via Usenet, FTP and on CD. I’m old enough to remember painstakingly downloading it over many hours via FTP using a 28.8k modem. It took forever. Over time IMDb drifted away from its community roots until in 1988 it was purchased by Amazon and is now a Very Commercial Enterprise.
TMDB — The Movie DataBase — is in some sense the spiritual successor to IMDb. Since 2008 it’s been gathering together information about films and — more recently — television series, and although it’s commercially funded it remains ad-free and with the majority of content contributed by the community. Movie Sailor from Vitalii Korenev (nemishmor) is a great new app that provides access to TMDB via the TMDB API. Use it to search for information on movies, television shows or the people involved in them.
A particularly nice feature of the app is its ability to discover shows based on a whole range of criteria, including release date, user score and genre. If you’re wondering what to spend your evening watching, the app might just be able to provide you the inspiration you need.
The app is also very nicely presented with vivid graphics and imagery from the shows themselves. It provides some really nice touches (I particularly like the animated ascending/descending arrows) on top of its excellent search capabilities and the info pages are really nicely presented.
Movie Sailor is a great new app and definitely worth installing if you might otherwise find yourself on IMDb. Version 0.7 is available from the Jolla Store and OpenRepos and right now it’s seeing some really rapid development.
Next up we have BikeMe, another great native app for Sailfish OS, this time from Sylvain (Sthocs). Although the app itself isn’t brand new, it saw its first outing on the Jolla Store at the end of December, as Sylvain explains:
Christmas 2013 - Christmas 2023… Here we are, 10 years later! It’s with nostalgia and hope that I can finally publish my app in the Harbour . Indeed, it relies on QtLocation that has finally been allowed this year, with Sailfish 4.5
The app pulls in data from multiple official and unofficial sources with the ultimate aim of displaying a map of where all the hirable bikes are near you based on either your GPS location, or a city chosen manually.
Anything that encourages cycling is a positive in my book and cycle hire schemes have become widespread across the world, primarily driven by improvements in technology (GPS tracking, mobile phone app usage and effective payment system). Nowadays I see bikes and other forms of personal transport available for hire in almost every city I have the good fortune to visit. But different providers provide different apps to find and use them: it’s a fragmented landscape; so it can be convenient to know where to find your nearest bike all from a single app, and all available natively for Sailfish OS. When it comes to actually hiring the transport the app unfortunately won’t be able to help with that: you’ll either need to use the website or a specific app from the provider for the purpose.
One thing worth noting is that when running the app I experienced a problem with the map page itself, which simply stated the standard QML error “Could not load page”. Some investigation showed this was related to availability of QtLocation. I’m not sure why this was a problem for me when it doesn’t seem to affect others, but I found I had to manually install
qt5-qtdeclarative-import-location to get the mapping to work:
devel-su pkcon install qt5-qtdeclarative-import-location
Having done so I now find I’m surrounded by bikes in every direction. The app allows you to see both available bikes and bicycle parking spots; if there are places you use again and again you can add them as favourites, which can then all be viewed in a list for a quick update on availability without having to go to the map.
Although it’s a great app, I did have mixed experience with support for different cities. For example in London the official API seems to work really well, whereas Tampere, which also has bike rental available, doesn’t appear in the list. For some other cities which were shown in the city search, they weren’t able to find any bike stations in practice.
If you’re a regular cycle hirer I recommend BikeMe and look forward to seeing future updates to the app. Version 0.11 is available from the Jolla Store and OpenRepos.
The final app of today’s tour is Expenditure from Yajo Web (yajo), or possibly Tobias Planitzer (tp.labs)… it’s true lineage isn’t quite clear to me. Nevertheless this is its first appearance in the newsletter and a very worthy inclusion.
The app allows you to manage your expenses and to handle redistribution of expenses between multiple people to keep things fair. The process is straightforward: start by creating a new project with a name, currency and the people involved. If you just want to keep track of costs associated with something, just add yourself as a contributor. But if you ultimately want to share the costs between multiple people — a restaurant visit or shared project for example — then add all of the contributors to the project.
Now you can add transactions. Creating new transactions is kept simple: just add a name, an amount and a description. For each person involved with the project you can select them as either payers or beneficiaries. This neat addition allows you to keep track of the balance of payments between all of those involved.
The app has an attractive card-like layout for adding new transactions and ultimately you can see everything in a neat scrollable list. At any point you can get the app to generate a spending overview, along with — and here’s the clever part — a balance of payments that will weigh beneficiaries against payers, giving a final calculation of how much each contributor owes in order to keep things fair.
The app is both simple to use and elegantly presented, but this simplicity hides a valuable utility. If you need to keep track of your expenses for particular projects, this could well be the ideal approach for you. Version 0.3 of the Expenses app is available for installation from OpenRepos.
There were rich pickings this month and we’ve barely touched the surface of new apps that have been released since the last newsletter. On this occasion we looked only at new apps, but in the next newsletter we’ll take a look at some of the updates that it wasn’t possible to fit into today’s newsletter. In the meantime, keep those app updates coming in, and if there’s a particular app you particularly appreciate or would like to see covered, let us know in the comments.
That’s all for today, thank you for reading! Like always, we’d like to hear your suggestions for future topics - feel free to write them in the comments below.
As reminder the next community IRC meeting is scheduled for 11th January.