On old Android phones and Firefox OS

Yesterday, i bought an old Google Nexus S and it’s a phone that runs on Android 4.1.2, it’s probably the last phone update it can get from Google’s Android and once i got my hands on it, i took my USB cable out and downloaded the latest Firefox OS builds you can get from the XDA website and flashed it with Firefox OS.

After a few minutes of patience, i saw the potential of the device. The phone runs Firefox OS 2.2. Since it’s the same version that you can get on a Firefox Flame, it also has the privacy panel app that you can use to locate your device, although i haven’t fully explored it yet. It’s pretty slick, and it always amaze me that this 2010 phone can run the very best of Firefox OS.

You can get a mid-tier phone experience from a low end hardware. In my case, i only bought the phone for less than 70 USD and performance wise, it’s almost the same with the Flame. And it always amaze me that software plays a big role on a smartphone device. Who would have thought that you can make an obsolete phone awesome again with a new Operating System?

The future of Firefox OS is exciting! I’m really hoping that OEMs will manufacture more mid-tier phones that feels like a premium device when you use it. I believe a LOT of people are willing to buy it, specially in today’s market where a LOT of affordable high end Android devices are fighting together to win the low and mid market.

Can Firefox OS change the way we use smartphones? Maybe. But it has already made an impact to thousands of early adopters worldwide and gave breath to devices that has run out of updates.

ChikkaFOX – The Chikka SMS API Simulator in Firefox OS


I’ve been playing around recently with the Chikka SMS API and i’m amazed on how easy it is to integrate the API on your existing apps or try the API by creating a small app that would simulate it. That is exactly what i did with ChikkaFox.

ChikkaFox is an open source app in Firefox OS that would let you send SMS to any mobile phone number.

All you need to do is to add your api info into the following variables in main.js:

var sCode = “”; // Short code
var cID = “”; // Client ID

var sKey = “” // Secret Key

To test the app, you have to format a mobile number by adding: +639XXXXXXXXX.

Message ID is used to track a request status. You can put any numbers you like for testing. (Example: 01)

The great thing about the Chikka SMS API is that you can buy airtime credits using your SMART Prepaid load and the minimum package you can avail is only 100 pesos (Up to 250 SMS). Talk about convenience and affordability.

Cherry Mobile Ace: An end to the Gingerbread Era

Cherry Mobile Ace photo

Cherry Mobile has announced a new set of devices for this month of November and i think it’s the best line up yet for both consumers and developers.

It’s nothing new that Cherry Mobile has been actively releasing new devices every now and then but this time, in my own opinion, they wanted to point out that they are working really hard to put balance in modern hardware and reasonably priced devices.

The end of Android Gingerbread

The current line-up of Cherry Mobile smartphones has abandoned Android 2.3 a.k.a “Gingerbread” and that’s okay. Gingerbread has been here for a very very long time. It was first introduced in December 6, 2010. That’s nearly 4 years ago!

The most affordable Cherry Mobile Android Phone runs Android 4.1 a.k.a “Jelly Bean”

Firefox OS is here to fill the gap

Now that Android Gingerbread is retiring, something needs to fill out the gap.

And now they are offering the Cherry Mobile Ace now runs Firefox OS 1.3.

With Firefox OS, you get a modern operating system with a modern browser. It’s an operating system which has been made with Web Technologies at its heart. Whichmeans you can get more apps because most the apps are lightweight when compared to a native Android app.

I’ve been using Firefox OS for almost a year now and i can safely say that the O.S has been improved dramatically since its inception. And Mozilla is doing a good job on enhancing the operating system. In fact, if you own a Geeksphone Keon or Peak, you can try out Firefox OS 2.1 on your device.

I just bought a unit today and will update my blog on how to test your Firefox OS apps and setting up the development environment using the new Cherry Mobile Ace. So please stay tuned. :)

Geeksphone Peak+ delayed until end of november, offers Peak instead.

For those pre-ordered a Peak+ recently got an e-mail from Geeksphone for yet another delay, this time their customers have to wait until the end of november for their devices to ship because due to supplies issue.

For those who are itching to get a high end Firefox OS Smartphone, they can simply ask to get a Peak instead and have it shipped immediately and get a $20 refund. So what’s the difference between a Peak and the Peak+? The Peak+ has 1GB of RAM while the Peak only sports 512MB and the Peak+ comes with a digital compass.

Here’s a transcript of that e-mail:

Dear Geeksphone user:

In our last communication we announced, to our regret, a delay in the delivery of the first batch of Peak+, that you’ve already pre-booked by paying a preferential price.

At that time we mentioned the complicated situation concerning the supply chain in the industry. This plight, despite all measures taken to minimize its effect, has been more harmful than expected.

The current situation in addition to the quality controls we impose to all our products, makes that the estimation for Peak+ availability is at the end of November

This announcement gives us great concern ahead of the responsibility we have to all those who have trusted Geeksphone, not only in terms of acquiring a terminal, but also for supporting our young brand. This forces us to adopt a commitment to complete transparency with you all.

Therefore, with the intention of giving an early solution, we have decided to output a new batch of the Peak model as we think it is very important that all the energy which is being born around Firefox OS, an operating system based on the Open Web, continues to develop.

As a matter of fact, all users who pre-booked the Peak+ and would like a Peak instead, may contact us at peakrequest@geeksphone.com. In that case we will ship it immediately, through priority courrier. In addition you will get a refund of 20 U$ (15€) at your credit card account. (*)

(*) This offer will remain open until end of stock.

We hope that this initiative can satisfy those of you who want to have a unique device which represents the beginning of a revolution in the world of mobility.

The whole Geeksphone team is grateful for your support

For me, we can’t really blame all to Geeksphone on this issue because if you compare them with other OEMs, they are a small company with a big passion to change the current smartphone industry.

If you’re one of those who pre-ordered, are you still willing to wait? Or just grab the opportunity to get a Peak instead? Let me know in the comments.

Meet the first top ten filipino made Firefox OS apps you can use today!

We cannot deny the fact that Firefox OS has a great developer interest in the country. Many of the local developers from different fields are joining our official Dev Group on Facebook to get an insight about the latest news and events related to Firefox OS.

But… how about the consumers? You’ll be surprised that even at Toycon 2013, i am getting questions like “When will Firefox OS launch locally?” or “Is Firefox OS something to look forward to?” from a consumer that came from a non-tech industry field! How awesome is that?

And since January and up to this date, we have successfully conducted 3 App Days from different places in the country and 2 Firefox OS Apps Development Workshops in top universities in Manila and of course, our countless lightning talks that promotes Firefox OS in different parts of the country.

Lo and behold, we are pleased to announce the first top 10 Firefox OS apps that has been approved in the Firefox Marketplace:

  1. Raffle Hat
  2. NS Converter
  3. My Holy Rosary
  4. My Aksyon
  5. Pixel Test (You have to switch to countries that supports payments to see this app)
  6. Leaders PH
  7. BMI Calc
  8. TicTacToe
  9. Game of Luck
  10. MozPH Memory Game

OUR BASIS: We gathered this information from the Mozilla PH Developer Community and does not in anyway represent accurate statistics (on who came first) from the Firefox Marketplace.

Let this be an inspiration to other filipino developers to get started making or porting their apps right now! This is truly the best time to explore the platform and launch an app!

How can you try this apps without a phone, you say? You can download and use the Firefox OS Simulator (Add-on) and use it along side with your Firefox browser. Cool, right? :)

If you need developer support, you can always ask for help at our developer group or follow @MozillaHacks on twitter.

Recently approved Firefox OS app? E-mail me your app’s Name, description and Marketplace link to: aaroncajes [at] MozillaPH [dot] org

Mozilla PH Dev Team at UE Manila for Firefox OS Workshop

The Mozilla Philippines Dev Team conducted a Firefox OS Workshop at UE Manila last Friday, September 27 2013. It was attended by Computer Engineering students and most of them are members of Society of Computer Engineering Students (SCpeS) an official student organisation at the University of the East – College of Engineering.

This event is somewhat unique to the team because this time we are teaching Firefox OS development to non-Information Technology and Computer Science students. The event was smooth because majority of the students knows how to make a web app using Web Technologies, so kristian lugtu, my co-speaker focused on making these web apps responsive and be adaptive to Firefox OS.

The event started at 10am as i was the first to discuss about the Mozilla Philippines Community and to be followed by Firefox OS Overview which discusses about the philosophy of Firefox OS and why it’s the start of the Open Web revolution on mobile.

Followed by Kemuel Joseph Domanog where he discussed about the Firefox Students Ambassadors program in the Philippines.

Then Kristian Lugtu discusses about making your first Web App with Mobile First in mind. He also made a template for students to follow and hack on while he demonstrates how to make a simple web app responsive.

After an hour of hacking, i came back to talk about using that web app and optimise it to Firefox OS. This time before i showed them how to write a manifest file and using that to test their apps on the Firefox OS Simulator, it was my first time to let my audience install the simulator. I did that because we were at the university’s computer lab and they have to experience how easy it is to install the simulator, so when they reach home after the workshop, i am confident enough that they know how to replicate it again on their own machines. Lastly, i also discussed about the benefits of Firefox Marketplace.

After the talks, we have a 2 hour app hacking session where they will have to use that template and make a new app out of it. It’s nice to have Ryan Ermita and Marcus Ang present at this workshop as they are both dedicated Mozilla Volunteers and act as Firefox OS mentors to help students with their first open web app. It was truly an interactive workshop! At the end of apps hacking session, there were 6 apps demoed in front of the audience.

And those who have presented received a Firefox string bag and Firefox phone case. Not only that but we also gave Firefox and Mozilla stickers to all attendees!

Over 40 student attendees. Truly it was an awesome experience for everyone! I can’t wait for the next Firefox OS events and open apps coming from my own alma matter! :)

I would like to thank Prof. Errol Antonio and Prof. Mary Ann L. Limkian for making this event possible! Kudos to everyone!

Check out our Flickr set for this event here.

New in Firefox OS V1.2-prerelease: Orientation Lock Support, new lock screen and the future of customizable homescreen!

I’ve recently flashed my Geeksphone Keon with the latest V1.2 ROM with build identifier: 20130928225700 and i think it’s quite impressive because this one has a lot of new upcoming features to play around in the next releases. Take note that i’m on the 1.2 channel, which means this one is being updated every night so expect A LOT of bugs along the way if you want to use this one.

Let me enumerate the cool new things i found on this build:

  1. Device Orientation lock support
  2. Improved lock screen design
  3. Home Screen option
  4. New set of wallpapers

Device Orientation Lock Support 

Orientation lock is one of the most important feature in a smartphone and crucial to the User Experience of a mobile operating system.  If enable, what orientation lock does is that it prevents the device from switching to landscape from portrait mode on any apps as possible. Without this feature, one mistake of holding your device might change the orientation of the screen without your consent, making users annoyed. So it’s nice to see that Mozilla is working round the clock to make this important feature a reality.

Improved lock screen design


From the start, Mozilla has been experimenting different kinds of Lock Screen design, and if you’re using a Firefox OS phone right now, you might have to swipe up and press a rounded button to unlock your phone OR fire up the camera. But on this build, you have to tap and swipe the middle button to select whether you want to unlock your phone or use the camera with a twist of animation that compliments the design of Firefox OS.

Video demo: http://instagram.com/p/e1Op39iMZv/

Home Screen Options

Soon developers can change how the home screen should look like. This one is similar to Android. Though it’s not clear how one developer or designer can make their own customised home screen, it’s really an exciting feature to look out for.

Video demo: http://instagram.com/p/e1O8okiMaC/

New set of wallpapers

Now includes the signature fox, and it’s built right into the system wallpaper. How cool is that? :)

Video demo: http://instagram.com/p/e1PRsCCMad/

What’s this? :)

Hmmm.. future icon for tablets? :)

Video demo: http://instagram.com/p/e1XiH9iMUH/

The real deal here is that every Firefox OS phone will have this update in the future. So theoretically, no Firefox OS phone will be left behind!

If you’re feeling adventurous right now, you can flash your device by getting the official Geeksphone Firefox OS 1.2 ROM here: http://downloads.geeksphone.com. Please note that i am not responsible if your device got bricked, proceed with caution in mind. :)

Hit me up in the comments if you have any questions.

ZTE Open got bricked? Here’s the official recovery images

If you’re one of those few individuals who bought a shiny new ZTE Open on EBay and got it bricked, well consider this as good news because ZTE has released the official recovery images for your device!

If your ZTE Open is bought from EBay UK, go head on this link:


And if your ZTE Open is bought from EBay U.S.A, just head on this link:


If you need any support, just contact ZTE for help. I am not held responsible for your device. Use these images at your own risk. :)

WebGeek DevCup 2013 was a blast!

That’s right! Mozilla Philippines has been supporting WebGeek Philippines from the start and we are honoured to be part of this year’s DevCup!

Did you know this event was so buzzing, it was even featured by GMA 7! (A very known local news station from the Philippines.)

Also, this year was quite different. Why? This time, the officers from the Firefox Warriors Club – UE Manila together with a fellow Mozilla Rep, Cherlowe Reinard Ramirez was there to cover the whole 2 day event! Even though i couldn’t be with them on the weekend (Yeah… :( Because i was in Cebu for the Firefox App Days – Cebu) they did a very good job at supporting developers by helping them debug their web app using Firefox’s Built-in Developer Tools!

Heck, they even distributed Firefox swags and even answered questions about the Mozilla Community and of course, Firefox OS!

Take note, this event was attended by 60 teams composed of 1-3 devs! For a total number of 48 apps generated!

Cherlowe Reinard Ramirez even blogged about his thoughts about this year’s event. Awesome, right? Check it out here.

Some say, a picture paints a thousand words…. So we covered the event with PICTURES! Only at FWC – UE Manila’s Flickr Account! Take a peak here.

Congrats WebGeek! Until the next DevCup! :)

Bored at the current Mobile Ecosystem Wars? Here are some new contenders…

Geeksphone Keon running Firefox OS. Image from TheNextWeb.com.

Yeah, there’s a lot of buzz happening right now in the mobile ecosystem, and everyone just want to have a slice of the marketshare. When you say “Mobile Wars” some people think it’s about Apple vs. Google doing legal battles, but in the mere fact, it’s not. It’s all about how people are adopting to a certain platform and use it in the long run.

But in the case of application development, some developers are moving from the big players into newer mobile platforms. They believe that there is a lot of opportunity in these emerging platforms, because first of all, there are small or even no app players to cater the needs of the user of a new platform, thus giving them a large audience impact when a certain platform launches on a specific country.

If you’re interested to know what these emerging platforms are, here’s a quick list.

BlackBerry 10 – BlackBerry’s second coming to the smartphone battle, based on QNX (The same technology that has been used in different industries). Developers can run Native Apps using the Cascades Framework or port games that has been written on C++. HTML5 is also an option for making an app. Got an existing app? Port your Adobe Air and Android apps to the platform! To learn more about these stuff, you can visit BlackBerry’s official website here.

Firefox OS – Mozilla’s official entry to the Mobile wars, but this time it’s about opening the mobile ecosystem to the web and cater current web developers to the platform. There are no native apps, which means if you want to make an app in Firefox OS, you can use your existing site (If your site is responsive to adapt the mobile screen, that is) or make one from scratch using Web Technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. To learn more about Firefox OS Development, you can visit Firefox Marketplace Developer Hub here.

Nokia Asha Platform – The Nokia Asha OS is made to cater low end devices, the first phone to have this operating system is the Nokia Asha 501. You can make native apps using Java ME but you can also write an app using HTML5. Learn more about Nokia Asha development here.

Ubuntu Touch – Based from WikipediaUbuntu Touch is a mobile interface for Ubuntu developed by Canonical Ltd. The interface is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. The first consumer phone to have this operating system, is Ubuntu Edge (If you want one, you can actually join the growing list of pledgers). You can develop an app using native C++/QML or by using HTML5. Learn more about here.

Tizen – Based from WikipediaTizen is an operating system for devices including smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices, and smart TVs. It is an open source system that aims to offer a consistent user experience across devices. Tizen’s main components are the Linux kernel and the WebKit runtime. The Tizen project resides within the Linux Foundation and is governed by a Technical Steering Group (TSG) composed of Intel and Samsung. Learn more about Tizen App Development here.

Sailfish OS – Again, based from WikipediaSailfish is a Linux-based mobile operating system developed by Jolla in cooperation with the Mer project and supported by the Sailfish Alliance. It is to be used in upcoming smartphones by Jolla and other licences. Although it is primarily targeted at mobile phones, it is also intended to support other categories of devices. The first phone to have Sailfish OS is from Jolla. Learn more about it here.

The list doesn’t end there and there will always be a new challenger awaits as time unfolds. Developers, be quick to adopt. The revolution has just started.