Introducing Project Tablet


(Ben Francis) #1

Hi there,

In the Connected Devices group at Mozilla we have a goal to “deliver an uncompromising, user first, web centric experience via connected devices”.

Project Tablet is a new project from that team which aims to explore a simple,
single-purpose tablet, completely dedicated to browsing the web.

As with Mozilla’s other Connected Devices experimental projects we’re starting out with a hypothesis about an end user need and working in the open to validate that hypothesis. In the case of Project Tablet our hypothesis is that:

“Current tablet products are not meeting the needs of late majority adopters. There could be a demand for a simple, affordable browser-based tablet.”

The next step is to carry out a user study to test a prototype and validate the hypothesis by answering a set of research questions.

You can find out much more about the tablet project and how to get involved on the tablet wiki page.

Feel free to join in the conversation here on Discourse (new category soon to be created) and chat with us in the #tablet channel on irc.mozilla.org.

Ben


“Here’s to the crazy ones”


(Sai Karthik Karra) #2

I agree & I believe people want products like these. I know some people who need a simple tablet for educational purpose at affordable price (they couldn’t afford a pc for web browsing & smartphones are too costly & don’t serve the purpose well at all times). This tablet can fill that gap. Almost every app today we use moved to the web :slight_smile:


(Lapineige) #3

Late reaction, I had almost forgotten this topic ^^

This project is great !
As my personal usage of a tablet would be browsing the web, and reading rss feed, and current (correct) model are really expensive for “just” that, it will just perfectly fit my needs. Yeah, unbiased point of view :smile:
On a non-personal point-of-view, tablet market might still lack this kind of simple and affordable products, and I think there would be end users for this - even if it’s not a big market, as the tablet market is stable/decreasing, and a lot of people have one tablet right now. One blocking point I see, is to have a clear advantage compare to Android (except from privacy), by having better performance to allow the usage of cheap hardware.

So it’s really promising for me :slightly_smiling:

I have a couple of questions:

  • as it’s pure web based, we will be able to browse the web… and to launch webapps ?
    Like doing everything that a B2G phone do, except the telephony part, right ?

And so… what’s the link with B2G OS ? Is it a kind of B2G OS without Radio Interface Layer ?

  • For the target devices… will it remains on porting on existing devices (no, don’t say flat fish :smiley: ), like B2G ?

Looking forward for more information from this project :wink:


(Ben Francis) #4

Correct. Although in the current experimental design the homescreen will be automatically populated with your top sites based on frecency, no app installation needed.

The focus at the moment is on the user study in order to validate the core hypothesis and test demand for the product, not on implementation details.

However, I have carried out an analysis of potential architecture designs. My current recommendation is for Gecko chrome running on top of the Android Linux Kernel and Hardware Abstraction Layer, with system services running on Node (see image below):

This would mean re-using the Gonk widget layer from B2G for optimal performance, trying to stick as close to upstream AOSP as possible for the kernel and HAL, and building a new set of web services to allow us to remove the legacy device APIs from Gecko. This is very much in line with the work done on B2G so far with the B2G Transition Project.

This is all subject to change.

I’m currently looking for an existing Android tablet to build the prototype with. Probably not Flatfish.

If the prototype is successful then the intention would be to target existing Android tablets to begin with, then eventually maybe a Firefox branded reference device. But we’re a very long way away from that.


(Lapineige) #5

Very interesting. I will follow the progress of this project :wink:

That’s seem to be the more logical/intuitive/comfortable.

I understand it’s too soon to go to the details on this part, but do you think both project can benefits from each others ?

Yeah Flatfish is not a good candidate.

Interesting comparison, I still see of problem for the Galaxy Tab A, the screen resolution might be a bit too light for a 10" tablet, used for browsing the web (and so reading text and watching videos) - but it’s mostly the case if we compare with actual “standard” of tablet user requirements, it might be enough for the users targeted.


(Sai Karthik Karra) #6

I think RIL can be optional for 3G/4G browsing only. No calls & sms features necessary.


(Gabriele Svelto) #7

Yes indeed, the functionality provided by the RIL is outside the scope of this project. Besides the RIL and its associated APIs have been one of the most complex and troublesome aspects in Firefox OS (mostly because of the interaction with closed proprietary code) so keeping it out is a Good Thing™.


(Ben Francis) #8

Yes, I do. The changes we’re making to B2G’s architecture are well suited to a browser-based tablet device, and in my opinion a tablet was always a better use case for the concept of Firefox OS than a smartphone. But first we need to prove the demand for a tablet product and better understand the needs of users, before deciding on the best technology stack to build it.

As Gabriele said, the RIL causes a lot of problems due to proprietary blobs of code. It also has certain certification requirements associated with it which a WiFi-only device does not.


(Sai Karthik Karra) #9

The tablet’s price also must be reasonable to attract by keeping it below 100$ range !? & any plans to add gps feature ?


(Borisbudini) #10

I didn’t catch any question like this so,
I don’t know about the majority’s point of view, but add-ons(maybe or maybe not in addons.mozilla.org) would be a good point, since it’s one of the best things in Firefox( not to mention that some are a must for some(ad block, foxyproxy, etc)
I personally believe the major of users of this tablet may be 30+ years/old (not limited, of course)


(Borisbudini) #11

I think that is needed, since websites use locations( maps, etc)


(Borisbudini) #12

Taken from wiki:
"Have to download an install an app just to try it, then clean up apps you don’t use"
This must also be ‘re-observed’, since Android N is also trying a feature like that(Google I/O 2016)

P.S: I apologize for multiple replies… Won’t happen again :smile:


(roberts) #13

This is a wonderful idea.

I wonder if this can be implemented to use inside a “smart mirror”. Especially for the ‘stupid’ IoT. There can just be a simple home screen with essentials, mail, weather etc. BTW are there any plans expanding to nexus7 - may be even a untested tutorial. Thanks for the great work.
If you can make a prototype; I am sure may generic companies may start shipping tablet+mirror a.ka. smartmirror.


(Lapineige) #14

Hum… why ? I don’t understand :sweat_smile:


(Ben Francis) #15

Gelocation: yes
Add-ons: yes
Affordable: yes

But this is all theoretical at this point, first we have to prove a demand for the product :slight_smile:


(Sai Karthik Karra) #16

according to meeting notes yesterday, project tablet is no more :frowning: ?


(Ben Francis) #17

That’s correct I’m afraid. As it says:

  • The results of the user study were presented to the Product Innovation Board on Wednesday last week
  • The board decided to discontinue work on Project Tablet.
  • The reason given was that we have limited resources in Connected Devices and there are still major concerns around:
  • Apps
  • A lack of support from the platform team
  • WhatsApp

(Sai Karthik Karra) #18

sad to hear it :frowning: @benfrancis

Are they doing this too? This will affect B2G OS also right ?

If the platform team keep trying to remove B2G code from mozilla-central, will we have to fork?It’s possible. But that’s our last resort because maintaining a fork of Gecko long term is a huge deal


(Lapineige) #19

That’s a sad, however it sounds realistic.
Thanks for the information :slight_smile: