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Dumb phone mode
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Old 03/14/2014, 07:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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This is just an idea I had:
Even as battery technology improves and circuitry becomes more efficient, all the functions (and potential addictions!) of the smart phone bump up against battery life.

In general, a smart phone has to be recharged daily. A dumbphone can usually last at least a week.

So it occurs to me that in low battery situations or if there is no current need for smart phone functions, a dumb or basic mode could be set, allowing phone & sms use only. There are two ways to achieve this:
1. Shutdown all other radios and processes except the phone dialler & SMS apps.
2. Switch or reboot to a basic OS - phone & sms only

The first technique is likely very feasible - possibly using something like the mode switcher app or a bit of hacking to make a button or app to do the job. The advantage is ease and also the ability the bring the smart functions back easily, but on some level, the system still needs to be running. To really save energy a vitualised switch or reboot to a basic phone and sms OS would approach the efficiency of a dumbphone - although the screen will still use more power than the traditionally smaller screens of dumbphones and this is usually a significant factor. That said, you don't need to look at a dumbphone much. It's just dialling or typing texts.

This might be a cool feature of an OS (if the webOS-Ports team are listening! ;-)

Does anyone have any thoughts? Is it a good idea? How far can it be implemented with what's already available?

If it would be easy to 'cut out' the phone parts of the OS and make a simple system to run them, that's one thing, but I suspect it is all reliant on the underlying OS, so a basic mode might need to be coded from scatch and even a dumbphone may need significant effort for a feature that is ultimately the opposite of 'smartphone'.

I'm interested to read any comments.

As a side note, I remember reading about an old battery powered computer (maybe like AA batteries!). To preserve power, the system was shutdown after a brief period of user inactivity. The system state was saved and also a screen shot. When a button was pressed the screen shot was presented first and the the short time it took for the user to remember what they were doing was enough to reboot the system in the background - saving power and giving the impression that the machine was always on... It must have been quite a simple / old system!

At the moment, your phone screen will switch off to save the big drain of the screen and maybe apps are paused (?). The system is still running - syncing your various accounts and alerting you to messages etc. I wonder how far it would be possible (given user choice) to partially shutdown webOS. What is the state of power saving techniques here?
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Old 03/14/2014, 08:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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SmartPhone vs DumbPhone...

Well from webOS standpoint there are a few basic things...

Based on an Open webOS OSLayer.jpg (attached):



Bootie is the BootLoader boots a Linux Kernel...

The Linux Kernel boots and launches Nyx, then Rendering Sub-Systems/System Services/ then QT4 stack, QT4 stack launches WebKit/OpenGL/ES then Apps go on top of that...

How do you pause a computer (the SmartPhone is a computer), and then also be responsive, the only answer is save state which I thought they implemented in webOS on the TV's...

TV powers on starts a Bootie instead of booting a Linux Kernel, it spawns a restore of a default saved state, restoring the memory of an already booted and started OS, then the TV apps spawn.

This is how I understand how they made the boot faster?

When you shutdown, all the Apps close and save their state, and then the power is pulled the OS is not saved as the next time booted it will start the default boot state then spawn the apps again?

This is all from theory of watching/reading LG's TV's I do not have one to prove if this is how they do it...

But from a Phone state, we can make the boot faster, but once the OS starts the battery will get used as this is a computer not just a Phone.. They do have sleep states and webOS Power Management Damon does attempt to preserve power (going into a lower power state, shutting off the display, you can even shutoff WiFi, Bluetooth, Data, but RAM/Flash/Modem still have power state, you still want a Call/Text to come in)...

The biggest drain of the Phone is the Modem (Communication Board, or Comm Board), as their signal to the towers get lower, it boosts power to keep a connection alive)
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Last edited by John Steffes; 03/14/2014 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 03/14/2014, 09:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for your comments Mr Steffes!

I mentioned 'save state' above, but did not know LG had implemented this in their TVs. IF they did, this suggests it's hard to reduce the webOS boot time - though on a phone that's usually 'always on' it's not a huge issue. Perhaps this functionality will become available to the Ports team? I realise this is your supposition, but perhaps they did a similar thing as mentioned above:

1. Display screen shot or route TV signal directly to screen (these days TV is digital, so always processed, but it may be done on hardware)
2. Boot webOS in the background - maybe UI before services

This way you are seeing TV, the UI (or just a screenshot / simple version) loads as you reach for the remote, then hopefully the services have loaded before you select something. I'm sure it's not seamless, but it might appear to be a faster boot by bringing things in 'just in time'.

It is true that a smartphone is a computer, but to some extent, so is a dumbphone - I can play simple games and use a calculator app etc. So of course, simply running a webOS system has an overhead, but as we can dual boot devices, is it possible (in theory) to reboot to 'Phonedialler+SMS' app. It would show a keypad or text field onscreen, access the contacts file & control the phone radio - and that's all. Or is it the case that the hardware requires a full OS and the associated power..?

Perhaps there could be webOS, low power mode webOS and 'reboot to basic mode'. Of course it's possible, as you seem to suggest, that software and services are less of an issue than hardware - a dumbphone OS on smartphone hardware might not prevent the hardware using power just from being on.

I'm a bit surprised about the comm board being such a drain. I realise about signal strength & compensation for that affecting power draw, but I'd expect that commonality between smart and dumb phones to make battery life similar. I understood that screen backlight and the bigger system were the main problems. Perhaps there's no specific thing that makes battery life so much shorter on a smartphone, but everything. This is actually more of a case for 'basic mode' even if battery life is only half that of a dumbphone, it might double your last 20% of battery to an effective 40%.
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Last edited by Preemptive; 03/14/2014 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 03/14/2014, 09:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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There's this from another thread about virtualisation:
Anyone for doing kickstarter for ACL on HP Pre 3 & HP Veer?

Possible, but not available yet. It would make swapping modes easier, but would a virtualised system sip or gulp power?
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Old 03/16/2014, 02:37 AM   #5 (permalink)
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what about just turning data off?
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Old 03/16/2014, 05:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJs11thPre View Post
what about just turning data off?
Yes, I frequently switch off services to prolong the battery life. A further step is of course to switch the whole thing off & power up to call or periodically check messages. Finally, "just get a dumbphone". ;-)

This isn't a particularly serious suggestion for a feature as there are costs we accept for the benefits of a smartphone. I doubt it would see much use. On the other hand, if it's achieveable, it might be nice to have.

When reading Smartphone reviews, mention is made of hardware capabilities, display size & quality, UI & smoothness, then battery life. For webOS devices the verdict on the last point has often been 'average' at best. This may be due to hardware, but it might be nice to have an OS that is not only power efficient, but capable of switching off services and even turning itself into a virtual dumbphone for those times you need to be able to communicate, but don't need the extras & don't have the juice to support them.

Call it dumbphone, basic or even emergency mode - for when you are stuck or even stranded away from power.

Currently, a Malaysian airliner is missing. If we suppose that the passengers are still alive & not prisoners, why haven't they called? They would have to be out of range, or out of juice. Those with dumbphones might still be able to make that call, but those with smartphones will have been looking at dark screens for days now unless they've been switching off - which means being uncontactable.
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Old 03/27/2014, 06:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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And what about a PMP (portable media player) or a wearable device a la Rufus Cuff??
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Old 03/27/2014, 06:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If you are suggesting this as another mode, then I suppose if a 'dumbphone' mode is possible, any other single device mode would also be possible, but is there much point?

A situation where you might need to conserve power and retain the ability to make and receive calls is more likely than one where you ha ve to have an emergency music player. There are some that are using their old phones just as players, but usually they're plugged in...

If you have no need of a smartphone, buy a dumbphone. If you just want a music player, buy a music player. In fact, you could probably get both for less than a current smart phone.

My point is that a smartphone is still primarily a phone & a basic, power saving mode could be useful. That said, I'm not seriously expecting anyone to develop this, just wondering if it's technically possible.
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