A while ago I've been interested in contributing to the Linux mobile scene, and I started working on an idea for a project, which consisted in creating a more ethical, yet still easy to use mobile shell for the platform. I registered this domain to sort of have a place to start and grow it. However, I've come to the realization that this project will need more people and for me to work further on my software engineering carreer. So while nothing has been done *yet*, I'm absolutely open for new ideas and I'll be sharing what I've conceptualized so far.
By the way, yes, the project is named after the element which powered the island of Laputa in Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky. Somewhat because of some of the ideas I'll be showing later in this page.
I've had the idea to have a very simple vertically arranged homepage, showing a clock and some app shortcuts organized in a list. Like, for example, a phone dialer or a texting app. If the user needs to access more apps installed on their phone, they could do so by searching for them using a search bar at the bottom. These shortcuts could be customized by the user so they can fit what they use most in their work flow. For example, a phone dialer, a messaging app and a music player. Maybe for telling apart devices we could allow customization of the lockscreen wallpaper, but ideally I'd like to keep the interface as bland as it can be, to avoid distractions. In terms of theming, I really like what Google has been doing with Android 12 and monet. So perhaps adding hints of color in the interface could also work nicely. Also, desaturating app icons could be a good mechanism against districtions like what, for example, Instagram does with their app icon. (using VERY saturated colors to lure the user in)
I'm not the first one to probably think that many apps send way too many notifications. Therefore, categorizing which notifications can be pushed or not would be a trivial thing to do. That is, unless another person wants to directly reach you or an even is extremely important to not miss (example, calendar notifications or emergency alerts), the rest of notifications won't be pushed to the user and instead could be scheduled to be shown in a sort of feed, or they could be scheduled for later in the day.
It's pretty known that most users will opt for the defaults. This what Apple does for example with iMessage and that has worked for them into making it the top messaging service in the US and also made a lot of people mad at green bubbles. So what if we shipped by default a Matrix or XMPP client and made it easy to set up an account while keeping those networks decentralized? So instead of getting users to sign up to a single instance, defeating the point of federation, we show an instance picker which randomly picks an instance and shows the user its rules. Or, similarly, for Nextcloud.
A big issue with smartphones nowadays is that, unless you're using an iPhone or a Google Pixel, phones tend to not really last very long. Mainly because smartphone OSs use very bad development schemes. Android vendors, for example, tend to make lots of kernel forks on old versions of the kernel which only work well when using proprietary vendor blobs instead of making generic, open source drivers and pushing them into mainline Linux. It doesn't help that these OSs are also VERY heavy for what they are, which ends up affecting performance on older devices when you try to use custom ROMs to give them a bigger lifespan. In a nutshell, they end up creating a cycle of making consumers buying a phone every 2 years and, once it no longer receives support or making the process to repair it hard and/or expensive, forcing consumers to buy a new phone and leaving the old one to collect dust in a drawer, end up in a landfill, or (if you're lucky) getting a tiny bit of it recycled. So, since we're working on actual Linux distributions, I think we could make the UI as light as it can be on system resources while being usable. I also really like what postmarketOS is doing to make an alternative which will outlast every single smartphone in the market and I myself would like to package this UI there once its somewhat done.
That's pretty much it for this idea. If you want to help, come join on the Matrix channel I made for this exact project at #volucite:mint.lgbt on Matrix. Or, just shoot a quick email or XMPP message at me over at my site! As I said though, this project is nowhere near even the beginning, and won't be until I learn more about UI design, Rust and Wayland, among many other different areas that will be required for this project.