Consider it or not, Important appears financially solvent sufficient to launch yet one more (one final?) smartphone. Regardless of having no discernible earnings because the full flop of the Important Telephone in 2017, canceling the Important Telephone sequel, canceling its sensible house machine, being put up on the market, shedding 30% of its workers, and having its founder and CEO Andy Rubin stained by a sexual misconduct scandal, Important is one way or the other nonetheless round. And it hopes you may overlook about all that whereas it teases a shiny new smartphone on Twitter.

Meet “Challenge Gem,” a tall, ultra-skinny smartphone with a facet ratio approaching that of a TV distant. It seems to be like what would occur should you took a traditional smartphone and reduce it in half vertically. The entrance has an excellent bezel all the best way across the cellphone, with a hole-punch digicam within the top-left nook. The again has a large digicam bump for the single-lens digicam and a divot on your finger, which could possibly be a button, or a fingerprint reader, or each. The colour scheme positively lives as much as the “Gem” identify, with 4 variations every displaying a special shiny, color-shifting end.

Each cellphone have to be assumed to run Android except confirmed in any other case, however boy, does this not appear like regular Android. The hero picture options what we assume is the house display screen, displaying a clock widget, a music widget, and apps icons that dwell in a 2×2 grid of tiles, making it look a bit like Home windows Telephone. The house-screen design appears to choose displaying apps as sq. widgets with some information and performance, relatively than app icons. The Spotify widget reveals music controls, the Gallery reveals an image preview, calendar reveals your subsequent appointment, “Maps” reveals a map along with your present location, and we will assume the climate widget reveals a climate preview. It is totally different, nevertheless it additionally seems to be fairly scroll heavy, since solely 4 widgets are essential to replenish the display screen.

There would not appear to be a lot by way of a system-level UI for displaying issues like system navigation buttons, the time, your cell reception, or any notifications. How does any of that work on Challenge Gem? The one piece of common UI appears to be a small, horizontal-line button within the top-right nook. What does that do? There’s additionally what is perhaps a “again” button within the reverse nook, subsequent to the digicam, within the Maps screenshot.

All of the proof we have now concerning the Gem cellphone to this point suggests it’s an Android cellphone with out entry to the Play Retailer and Google apps. XDA Builders found Android commits from Important staff referencing this “Gem” cellphone, and one of many hooked up screenshots uncovered a construct string “gem-q-microg-userdebug MICROG.QP1A.190711.020.” You may choose a couple of bits of information out of this string (it runs Android 10 and was constructed on 07/11/2019). However the huge piece of information is that this construct runs “MicroG,” an open supply reimplementation for Google Play Companies. MicroG is constructed particularly for units with out Google’s apps and companies, permitting apps that decision on proprietary Google APIs to nonetheless run on non-Google units. The Gem cellphone runs an Android fork.

MicroG principally exists as an open supply mission for house tinkerers who wish to construct an all-open supply model of Android. It has by no means been examined in a business product, and MicroG’s Github web page describes itself as “alpha-grade software program and never but prepared for manufacturing use.” The dearth of an actual app ecosystem helps clarify why lots of the apps look so generic. The one two identify manufacturers on the cellphone are Spotify and Uber, and each of these companies have Internet apps.

With out Google Maps, it seems to be like Important is rolling its personal map app. The app, which was prominently featured in one of many 5 photos, is simply referred to as “Maps” with a positively generic blue icon. The mapping knowledge is a match for OpenStreetMap, and the app design and iconography do not match something in the marketplace. There’s additionally what seems to be to be dwell visitors knowledge one way or the other, which Important have to be licensing from a supplier.

How enter would work on a tool like that is unclear. A standard keyboard can be nigh-unusable on a show this skinny. A 2018 report from Bloomberg stated Important’s subsequent cellphone would “have a small display screen and require customers to work together primarily utilizing voice instructions, in live performance with Important’s artificial-intelligence software program.”

Bloomberg positively received the “small display screen” half proper, so perhaps the first enter is voice? XDA discovered references to a “fingerprint walkie-talkie” mode, so maybe the divot on the again is a fingerprint reader, and also you press on it while you wish to enter a voice command.

There’s additionally an AT&T brand within the clock. Does that imply AT&T is a launch companion, or is that only a mockup? The Important Telephone’s solely US provider companion was Dash.

That is about it for Important’s Challenge Gem, a cellphone that raises a complete host of questions with some very regarding solutions. Will you actually be capable to sort and use apps on a smartphone this skinny? Does anybody need an app-less smartphone in 2019? Do you wish to consistently speak to your smartphone if voice enter is the first possibility? Will this cellphone be one other business failure, and can a second flop be the dying of Important?

Important says it “seems to be ahead to sharing extra within the close to future.”

Itemizing picture by Important



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