Why An Open Source Comms OS (Like @FirefoxOS) Matters

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This morning I tried to install "Checky" on my iPod 5 Touch and was rejected.

iPod 5 Touch screenshot of an error while trying to install the Checky app: 'Cannot download / This app is not compatible with your device.'

An app that tracks how often you check your mobile device should work regardless of how connected you are or not. From experience I know it is plenty easy to be distracted by apps and such on an iPod touch.

Secondly, I saw this article on GigaOM: Hope you like iOS 8.1.1, because there’s no going back

Apple has made it technically impossible for most people to install an older version of iOS on iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices

Which links to this article: Apple closes iOS 8.1 signing window, eliminating chance to downgrade

Apple has closed the signing window for iOS 8.1 on compatible iPhone, iPad and iPod touch models, thereby eliminating the ability for users to downgrade to the software version

There's an expectation when you buy a computer, tablet, or mobile device, that if all else goes wrong (or you want to sell it to someone), you can always reinstall the OS it came from and be on your way.

Or if a software update has a bad regression (a bug in something that used to work fine), the user has the ability to revert to the previous version.

However if you're an iOS device user, you're out of luck. Apple now requires iOS 8.1.1 on your iOS device(s).

This is not a theoretical problem. iOS8 broke facetime: URLs. In particular, if you're running iOS8 (any version thru 8.1.1), and you tap on a facetime: URL with a destination to dial, it will prompt you, then open Facetime, and then do nothing.

What worked fine in iOS7: tapping on a facetime: URL prompts you to make sure you want to call that person, and then launches the Facetime application directly into starting a conversation with that person.

That facetime: URL scheme is proprietary to Apple. No one else uses it. And they broke it. It's one of the URLs in the URLs For People Focused Mobile Communication.

I've deliberately refrained from upgrading to iOS8 for this reason alone. If Apple regressed with such a simple and obvious bug, what other less obvious bugs did they ship iOS8 with?

Contrast this with open source alternatives like FirefoxOS.

You as the user should be in control. If you want to (re)install the original software that your device came with, you should be able to.

The hope is that with an open source alternative, users will have that choice, rather than being locked in, and prevented from returning their devices to the factory settings that they came with.