CloudMosa is yet to learn the lesson of Nextbit and will soon release a cloud-powered Puffin OS and a phone. The OS is based on Android, though similarly to KaiOS, it will focus on web apps. Puffin believes that since the phone offloads computation to cloud servers, very low cost phones can outperform Android handsets that cost several times more.
Of course, I don’t mean to sound negative, but there have been multiple attempts go all-in on web apps (including the original iPhone and Firefox OS phones), all of them failed. Also, Chrome already has a data compression feature on both desktop and mobile.
As for the higher performance thanks to cloud computing, it’s a matter of throughput vs. latency – cloud servers can outperform any mobile chipset, however network delays mean you don’t see the results instantly.
According to OpenSignal, the average latency on AT&T’s LTE network was 54.1ms (other US carriers were slower). That’s slow for apps, but maybe acceptable.
For games, it’s a total no-go (Google’s Stadia doesn’t just happen, it uses new tech and the game servers are co-located with the Internet provider’s hardware to reduce latency as much as possible).
CloudMesa also claims web apps have other advantages – they “install” instantly and don’t take up any storage. But since a 128GB microSD card is < $20, storage is not a concern for many. Plus, caching files to local storage means faster startup times (again, it’s a matter of latency).
Puffin OS’s landing page currently lacks one important number – the monthly cost. CloudMosa has a Chrome-based browser that cost $2 a month to use (currently discounted to $12 a year).
Admittedly, CloudMosa believes that its browser gets fixing security vulnerabilities faster than other vendors (Google, Mozilla, etc.), which justifies the cost. Still, paid browsers went the way of the dodo after Firefox launched all those years ago (yes, Internet Explorer used to cost money).
Anyway, the OS can’t be offered for free (the company behind it is funded by venture capital), so the price should be included in the cost calculations. Until that’s cleared up, as well as concerns about network latency, we remain skeptical.
Is Puffin OS Available For Installation On Existing Android Smartphones
The Kickstarter will offer a custom “Founders’ edition” smartphone with Puffin OS, it’s unclear if the OS can be installed on existing Android smartphones like Sailfish can.