I’m a big fan of desktop e-mail client Geary — it’s in our list of the best Ubuntu apps after all — so I’m particularly thrilled to hear that a “mobile version” is in the works.
Okay, okay: I say “mobile version” but what I more accurately mean is a mobile “face” for the app.
Y’know: a responsive interface designed to work well on a range of mobile devices, be it Linux phones like the Librem 5 or upcoming Linux tablets like the PineTab.
Alex, aka BabyWogue, uncovered work on an adaptive UI for Geary in code on the Geary repo on the Purism Gitlab instance. He built it and, as you’d expect, demoes the current state of progress in a video on his YouTube channel (which you can see embedded below).
Without spoiling things too much, things look pretty swell already:
The responsive powerhouse that is
libhandy is at work here. This library (developed specifically for uses such as) has made a massive impact on GTK app development over the past few years, and helps to soften the distinction between what makes a “desktop” app a desktop app, and what makes a “mobile” app a mobile one.
Now, you might be asking if running a full-featured desktop e-mail client like Geary on a smartphone is the best idea. I wouldn’t disagree (the Librem 5 has terrible battery life for precisely this reason: it runs desktop software on a phone).
But I should point out that replicating the status quo isn’t exactly the goal here. Exploration, experimentation, reimagining, and repurposing are — not recreating walled gardens (however pretty) brick by brick, flaw by flaw.
Part of that approach means exploring a truer form of convergence than is readily available today. We’re used to mobile apps being built for specifically for mobile platforms. That way has been successful until now. But it’s not the only way to approach things.
Alex couldn’t actually get Geary to run in the phosh emulator so it’s hard to gauge precisely how well it adapts and integrates to that platform (and its conventions) but… it’s encouraging nonetheless.
I have a PinePhone (Braveheart) sat on my desk but it’s been about 3 months since I charged it up. But if more of my favourite GTK apps get the responsive phone-friendly treatment I’ll be blowing the dust off it pretty sharpish!