I promised yesterday that I'd be trying to get hold of a handheld device running Moblin v2.1, and today that's exactly what I did. The device I got to play with was a Menlow based MID, although I was assured that Moblin is being geared up for the Moorestown launch next year.
In use, Moblin v2.1 feels like it's moving in the right direction. The various screens and applications are accessed using a menu strip that runs across the top of the screen. Even when the strip isn't on show, tapping the top of the screen will activate it and allow you to select the screen you're after.
Obviously there's full touch-screen support, allowing you to slide apps from side to side before choosing the one you want, while scrolling up and down through web pages is as smooth and responsive as you'd want from a handheld device.
This wasn't a fully functional version of Moblin though, and many of the features weren't actually present. But what was there looked promising, and even more promising was what Moblin and Morestown are set to bring to the table next year.
Pankaj Kedia - Director, Global Ecosystem Programs Mobile Internet Devices - filled me in on what 2010 has in store for us as far as handheld devices go. He confirmed that Moorestown devices equipped with the Moblin UI will be hitting the streets next year in form factors similar to the smartphones that we carry in our pockets today. Kedia showed me one Moorestown device that's not much bigger than an iPhone - I had previously thought that we'd be waiting for Medfield before we saw devices this small.
Unfortunately the device that Kedia showed me was a dummy, but he assured me that there are fully working, Moorestown powered models in existence. And if that is the case, we could see a whole new breed of mobile devices in 2010 to give the iPhone, Palm Pre and Android handsets a run for their money.
It was also confirmed that Moblin will be completely customisable by hardware manufacturers, so even though two phones may be running the UI, they could look and feel completely different. The only caveat is that all manufacturers must ensure that the underlying platform remains standard, thus allowing each and every Moorestown/Moblin device to run each and every new app that's coded for it.