It's that time again: broken promises from a hardware startup of questionable competence! The Turing phone was announced in 2015, but its launch was delayed back in December to "no later than the end of Q1" this year according to Turing CEO Steve "SYL" Chao. Turing is now, of course, reneging on that promise, stating that the phone will instead ship in April this year. It's only a month's difference, but when you go around committing to statements like that, it's probably wise to know you'll be able to make good on them. In a phone interview with Mr. Chao last week, I actually specifically asked about this promise and was told that in regard to the Turing phone shipping - and he stated this quite confidently - that the "end of March will not be a problem." Well, the end of March is officially a problem now, but that's really not the big news from Turing today, because who would honestly be surprised with a delay at this point?
Rather, the company has announced its formerly Lollipop-running phone will instead ship with - wait for it - Sailfish OS! What. I can't. Just. No? Why? How? Turing's own website seems to be having a similar issue coming to terms with this reality, as it still lists "Android OS v5.1 (Lollipop)" under the "platform" section of the specifications. (Side note: their use of the word 'platform' here seems... liberal.)
To be fair, in retrospect, my interview with Chao last week did make it apparent on a second listen that this whole Sailfish thing was probably in the cards. When I asked about the Android 5.1 situation with Marshmallow being out and all, Chao responded unusually vaguely, saying that "whatever ends up happening with the OS" it would "run Android apps." And that's technically true: Sailfish OS can run Android apps. So, the pieces were laid out in front of me, I just didn't know the puzzle said "Sailfish OS."
Here's the thing: Sailfish OS's underlying pieces are open source, but the whole Android app compatibility thing is not. Sailfish OS enables Android apps to run via an app Jolla distributes on the Jolla Store, and that means you have to be a Jolla partner to get this feature legitimately. Jolla is going through some pretty hard times right now, having just had to cancel a bunch of its Jolla Tablet orders because of funding issues, but the company definitely alludes to hardware partnerships being under discussion in a long FAQ posted on the official Jolla blog.
Q: What does the future of Sailfish OS look like?
A: After the awaited financing came in in December, Jolla has been able to continue the development of Sailfish OS. We are currently receiving significant interest from different mobile industry players to license the operating system. One of the publicly announced projects is the community driven Fairphone project, but there are many other negotiations going on and Sailfish OS is gradually taking steps to become an OS used by multiple device vendors. However, Jolla is still very tight financially and is currently negotiating with its creditors for extended payment terms so that all the available financial resources could be efficiently used to secure the needed OS development.
Is Turing one of those partners? Well, I emailed the Sailfish OS organization earlier today in hopes of getting an answer to that question, but if they are, I hope backers are OK with that Android device they ordered running Sailfish OS instead. As for the Turing Phone itself, it seems like an increasingly promising candidate for a sideshow to the Saygus Circus. Full text of the Turing email follows.
Dear Turing Fans,
You will be pleased to know that we have ironed out the final development tasks before we deliver the Turing Phone to your hands. We fully expect the Turing Phone to be delivered in the month of April 2016.
Many of you have asked numerous times through our Facebook fan page as well as emailed us about our OS development. We can now confirm that TRI has chosen to drop Android and use Jolla's Sailfish OS. Sailfish OS is now running perfectly on the Turing Phone and we have started the final OS software testing phase.
Sailfish OS runs exceptionally fast on the Turing. You will not have to worry about performance issues with Turing's Snapdragon 801 because Sailfish OS has been optimized to run fast on your Turing Phone. The Turing Phone will still be able to run Android Apps on the Sailfish OS without issue. An Android application store will be available for you to download your favorite apps.
The Sailfish OS is an evolved continuation of the Linux MeeGo OS previously developed by an alliance of Nokia and Intel. MeeGo mobile software platform was created through the merging of Moblin and the Maemo OS originally developed by Nokia.
This essentially means you have one of the world's fastest mobile device running the fastest mobile OS with the capability of running your favorite apps in a secure environment.
TRI will also be hosting its first Turing Developers Conference (TDC) during Q2 2016.
We can't wait to get the phones out to your hands. Thank you so much for your continued patience and support for the Turing Project.
Turing Phone Team | Turing Robotic Industries
We've confirmed with Jolla that Turing either has or is pursuing a licensing agreement for their Sailfish OS to be used on Turing's upcoming smartphone.