Pyra as a Phone


Flux

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Hello,

I'm new to posting on the forum after being a lurker for many years. I'm excited to see the Pyra nearing production.

I see the Pyra primarily as a miniature Linux computer. However, if it could be a basic phone whilst running Linux that would be useful.

I'm looking for the ability to send/receive SMS and make/receive calls via the headset port. I don't expect this to be as seamless as a dedicated phone, but in principle I think it could be made to work well enough.

1) What hardware is providing the phone/modem functionality?
The wiki says it's undecided, but I'm guessing a decision is being made soon. I would definitely vote for 4G, even if it cost extra. The lower latency makes SSH more pleasant for one thing.

2) Will it be possible to make/receive mobile phone calls?
There's always the option of SIP, but I'd rather have the ability to receive/make normal mobile calls if possible.
Some sort of address book integration would be the icing on the cake.

3) Are there any SMS apps that would work with the likely hardware?
A GUI app that stores messages by number/contact would obviously be useful.

4) Is it possible to have audio/vibration notifications of calls and SMS?
Ideally without draining the battery too much. :)

I'm not expecting all this to just work. At this stage I'm trying to learn about what's possible and what thoughts other people have had.

Thanks
 

slaeshjag

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1) No idea, somebody else knows. It's one of a handful modules.

2) Yes.

3) Who knows. The drivers will be there anyway.

4) Probably. There is a small vibrator on the mainboard. Actual notifications may or may not be present in currently available software.
 

Binky

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As far as I'm aware, all the functionality you mention is technically possible, but it dependant of somebody either porting or writing a frontend (&dæmon) to manage it all.

The WAN/GPS chip is (I believe) going to be the Gemalto PLS8, or one of its close relatives. There are pin-compatible variants for 3G, 4G, the US and EU.
 

Grench

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I'm confident that the capabilities of calling (via Bluetooth headset and/or held open to your head), SMS, vibration alerts, etc will eventually get figured out. Day 1, though, I'm thinking executable text files with AT commands for even basics.

As long as the hardware itself functions, the rest is dependent on the community which is in many ways dependent on how many people buy one which is dependent on how 'good it is' which is dependent on hardware and software support which is dependent on... yes this becomes a circular reference.

I'm betting that the day the first batch of general purchase Pyras get into customer hands, someone will release a diatribe in the forums about shoddy software support and how hardware isn't any good without blah blah blah. Controlling software expectations is going to be difficult but needed in the early days after release.
 

Silent-Hunter

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I am absolutely fine with executable text files with AT commands. As long as those scripts can receive texts and calls as well as making them.
 

TrashyMG

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Yeah we know how l337 you are with AT commands, however there will most likely be a less kludgy solution before production units get to customers.
 

Caine

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Hello,

I'm new to posting on the forum after being a lurker for many years. I'm excited to see the Pyra nearing production.
Hi Flux, glad you made the jump and decided to actively participate. Welcome aboard!

Indeed, it are very exciting times. Still, don't get your hopes up too high, it will take a few more months.

I am absolutely fine with executable text files with AT commands. As long as those scripts can receive texts and calls as well as making them.
I agree. If we have the basic building blocks available then slapping on a GUI isn't so hard.

So expect initial support for phone capabilities to be rudimentary at best. But if it scratches an itch, then someone will address the issue and develop better software for it. That's the way of open source.
 

Silent-Hunter

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Yeah we know how l337 you are with AT commands, however there will most likely be a less kludgy solution before production units get to customers.
Well I didn't mean to be rude. But scripts can be quite easy to work with, especially with curses or zenity. So it doesn't need to be like that.
 

Grench

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Yeah we know how l337 you are with AT commands, however there will most likely be a less kludgy solution before production units get to customers.
I wasn't clear enough in my post - two different days. "Day 1" is defined as if/when I/we get my/our prototype units. That differs from, "the day the first batch of general purchase Pyras get into customer hands," I expect the 2nd date to have much better software support as a result of the many more skilled than I who receive prototypes. I still also expect someone to go into a diatribe about it while not understanding the work that has gone into or the work yet remaining on the device.

Back to the OP's questions, though, yes - the physical hardware is there for voice, sms and data connections. The software support to make it truly 'phone like' may not be quite, 'prime time'.
 

Flux

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Thank you for all your replies.
I look forward to hearing more about the Pyra modem in 2016.
 

TrashyMG

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I wasn't clear enough in my post - two different days. "Day 1" is defined as if/when I/we get my/our prototype units. That differs from, "the day the first batch of general purchase Pyras get into customer hands," I expect the 2nd date to have much better software support as a result of the many more skilled than I who receive prototypes. I still also expect someone to go into a diatribe about it while not understanding the work that has gone into or the work yet remaining on the device.
Well your day one, you will be lucky if the keyboard is fully implemented, nubs work as a mouse and other small things you need a real prototype for to work on software, let alone cell phone features.
 

Grench

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Well your day one, you will be lucky if the keyboard is fully implemented, nubs work as a mouse and other small things you need a real prototype for to work on software, let alone cell phone features.
Assuming I get a day 1, which is iffy since I'm #8 of 8. If there are not enough good parts, I'm potentially out of luck. Life on the edge as it is.

I figure that the initial prototypes will exist more or less as cased dev boards. There will be lots of things to work around to use it. There may be multiple update cycles per week, etc...

Hopefully getting networking and a software updater program working are towards the top of that list. Otherwise it's dd writing SD cards from other computers.

Until the battery charge/discharge software is written, we may need to hold the battery out when not in use - and potentially remove it manually when the charge cycle is complete.

Initially it likely won't be overly 'mobile'. It should function with an external keyboard and mouse plugged into the USB ports - assuming those work more or less as they do on the dev board and can function right off.

With all of the work that is getting done on the screen rotation, I'm hoping for a working basic 2D graphical display on the in-unit screen.

Just convincing my wireless carrier (now AT&T) to supply me with a SIM card that isn't device code linked could be "interesting". I'm sure the Pyra isn't going to be on their list of 'approved devices'. That alone could be a long and frustrating road.

I like to think my expectations for software support at prototype day 1 are well in control. That said, I'm excited to actually get to prototype day 1. Although I wouldn't call myself a dev for this type of device, I am an experienced beta tester. Hopefully I'll be allowed in to help test and check what the real devs develop.

For the rest of you in the pre-pre-order and eventual main stream purchase batches, the above should not apply, or at least not so much of it.
 

lameventanas

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I would also love to use the Pyra as a phone, but the big problem here is the lack of an integrated microphone.
Even if you carry a headset all the time (which I won't), by the time you pull out the Pyra, untangle the headset cable, put it in your ears and answer the call, the caller will hang up.

Other minor inconveniences are: low battery life, too thick to put in your pocket every time, no proximity sensor.

Add all this together and the dream is gone.

I still have hopes that I will see a decent, fully open phone (running Linux) with physical keyboard in my lifetime.
 

Flux

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I would also love to use the Pyra as a phone, but the big problem here is the lack of an integrated microphone.
Even if you carry a headset all the time (which I won't), by the time you pull out the Pyra, untangle the headset cable, put it in your ears and answer the call, the caller will hang up.
The Pyra has a mic. There is also the option of a Bluetooth headset. Plus I'm often listening to music on my headset, so when a call comes it's already ready.

Other minor inconveniences are: low battery life, too thick to put in your pocket every time, no proximity sensor.
The Pyra has a large battery. I haven't seen any estimates of runtime, but I don't expect light phone use to be a problem. Most smartphone users charge their phones every day.

Add all this together and the dream is gone.

I still have hopes that I will see a decent, fully open phone (running Linux) with physical keyboard in my lifetime.
The Pyra is not primarily a phone, nor should it be. But I am more optimistic than you that it can function as one for some people, myself included.
 

Askarus

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I would also love to use the Pyra as a phone, but the big problem here is the lack of an integrated microphone.
Even if you carry a headset all the time (which I won't), by the time you pull out the Pyra, untangle the headset cable, put it in your ears and answer the call, the caller will hang up.
It has on the left hand side of the Keyboard.

Battery: My Phone has about 1500 mAh, Pyra has 6000 mAh.
Proximity sensor: What is it good for? Pyra can detect whether the lid is open or closed if you care about easy wake up/power save.

Size: You're right with that. There are smaller phones. But hey, It's only one device for everything. I had my Pandora and my phone with e for years so it would be one device less for me.
 

lameventanas

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It has on the left hand side of the Keyboard.
Ok, that's good to know, didn't see it in the spec sheet.

Still, from the picture I can't imagine how you could use the Pyra as a phone without a headset. Is there a speaker on the right side of the keyboard? Even if there was one, it looks like it would have to be open while you talk, with the screen covering half of your face.

Proximity sensor: What is it good for? Pyra can detect whether the lid is open or closed if you care about easy wake up/power save.
The proximity sensor is what disables the touch screen when you hold the phone against your face. Otherwise your cheek would accidentally press buttons when talking on the phone (or in this case, maybe your nose!).

Don't get me wrong, I too wanted to use this as a phone and replace my n900 as a mobile computing/phone device, that is the only reason I'm actually reading these forums. I couldn't care less about mobile gaming, that is just a bonus.

This thing is not designed to be a phone, there was no single compromise in the design to allow you to use it in that way, so we need a new project for that. But it still looks like an interesting mobile computing device.
 

TrashyMG

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The Pyra won't make for a convenient phone just because of the clamshell design, but my guess there will be three options. Using the built on Mic on the left side, the left speaker can be disabled in phone mode to prevent feedback, Wired headset and bluetooth headset.
 

edgex004

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Just convincing my wireless carrier (now AT&T) to supply me with a SIM card that isn't device code linked could be "interesting". I'm sure the Pyra isn't going to be on their list of 'approved devices'. That alone could be a long and frustrating road.
I hate to keep mentioning Cricket, as I start to sound like an ad-man, but they are cheap and off contract. If it does not work with them, there is not much time wasted. They run off AT&T towers and I have never had a problem hot-swapping their SIM cards between phones/3G USB sticks.

The downside to Cricket is that they seem to do some form of universal throttling all the time. One test I saw recorded something like 8MB/s versus 6.7 MB/s. However, I've never noticed it for web browsing and video. I'm sure if you are performing big downloads and speed tests you'd be able to tell the difference.

Besides that, all plans are unlimited, but then throttled further to 2G speeds when you hit your data limit. With how cheap the plans are, though, I could easily spend an extra $10 per month buying an extra 1 GB of 4G data and still be paying half the price of any GSM contract plan I've seen elsewhere. I actually haven't yet hit my monthly 5GB limit.
 
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