Goodwill Updates - A Firefox OS Feature Idea

A common aspect amongst the regions Firefox OS targets is a lack of dependable bandwidth. Mobile data (if available) can be slow and expensive, wi-fi connections are rare, and in-home internet completely absent. With the lack of regular or affordable connectivity, it’s easy for people to ignore device and app updates and instead opt to focus on downloading their content.

In the current model, Firefox OS daily pings for system and app updates and downloads the updates when available. Once the update has been installed, the download is deleted from the device storage.

What if there was an alternative way to handle these numerous updates? Rather than delete the downloads, they are saved on the device. Instead of each Firefox OS device being required to download updates, the updates could be shared with other Firefox OS devices. This Goodwill Update would make it easier for people to get new features and important security fixes without having to rely on internet connectivity.

a concept drawing

Goodwill Update could either run in the background (assuming there is disk space and battery life) or could be more user-facing presenting people with notifications about the presence of updates or even showing how much money has been saved by avoiding bandwidth charges. Perhaps they could even offer to buy Bob a beer!

Would this be worth doing to help emerging markets stay up to date?

PS. Hat tip to Katie and Tiffanie for the image and idea help.

6 Comments

Like bittorrent but only seeding via same subnet?
-- Anders, 09 Dec 2014
To a geek it sounds cool (yeah, mesh-networking), but whether it will be worth doing of course depends on if it will be a significant help for the target users (e.g. will there be enough Firefox OS devices close enough together that they will be able to discover each other? Will they be able to detect another peer soon enough after an update comes out, before they start downloading it directly? Is it possible to reliably detect which links are "cheap", and thus should be preferred, and which are expensive?).
-- Anders, 09 Dec 2014
I love this idea. Assuming it is technically viable and security/privacy concerns are considered I think it's totally worth exploring.
-- ashughes, 09 Dec 2014
Wouldn't it be awesome if Firefox (on all platforms) included an opt-in mesh network to share internet connections?
-- Greg K Nicholson, 09 Dec 2014
Not to put a damper on things (I do like the idea), but so far we don't have the ability to update anything other than Marketplace apps (AFAIK). The system (gonk, gecko, gaia) is built and distributed by partners, so they'd need to be the ones producing and hosting these bits.
It's an interesting idea for reducing bandwidth usage, hopefully we'll be able to make use of it someday!
-- Ben Hearsum, 09 Dec 2014
It might be difficult/prohibitive to figure out how much money has been saved, but reporting to the sender & recipients how much data has successfully transferred between two devices may help sharers to sort of know how to compensate each other - whether that be in high fives, future downloads or whatever.
-- Caspy7, 25 Dec 2014

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