Ubuntu for Phones unveiled, no hardware on the horizon
We’ve been hearing about Ubuntu coming to the mobile ecosystem for well over a year, and Canonical is now finally ready to show everyone what they have developed.
VIDEO UBUNTU FOR PHONE
The Ubuntu team has been clear about their plans — they want to take over all of our screens with the same UI. It was obvious from the very start that the Unity UI was brought to Ubuntu in order to plan ahead for a touch-oriented, mobile-ready future.
Canonical has made no secrets about their desire to make a smartphone that can be docked and used as a desktop with a mouse and keyboard. The idea has sounded great from the beginning, but the company has been very light on details regarding how this would work. In order for the dock to be something useful to users, the mobile experience itself would have to be something enjoyable and worth making the switch for. Earlier today Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical unveiled his plans for Ubuntu on phones and showed off exactly what that UI would look like.
It won’t be easy, at this stage, to enter the mobile ecosystem. In order to gain users and developers you have to come out of the gate with a great experience and a ton of apps at the ready. Ubuntu’s call for web apps to be treated like any other app on their desktop ecosystem has been pushed to the mobile experience, with a UI that takes advantage of all four corners of the screen. And rather than a lock screen — as seen on Android and iOS, both of which offer a limited experience under the veil of security — Ubuntu’s welcome screen grants the user access to apps and content by swiping on any of the sides of your phone. The company didn’t explain how this experience was secure, but assured everyone that it was a safe experience.
Everything about the UI is adapted from the existing Ubuntu environment, right down to the soft corners and gentle colors. The app ecosystem will support native applications and HTML5-based web apps equally, and mobile developers will have the flexibility to use the exact same tools used to make their desktop ones.
Apps will have a shortcut style drawer on the left, but a full app drawer in an almost Android-style launcher at the bottom of the left hand panel. Swiping from the right will serve almost as a back button, flipping you back to the app you last used before you landed on the current screen.
Canonical has split Ubuntu for Phones into two categories, an entry level model and a high end “superphone”. The entry level requires a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, while the high end version requires a minimum of a quad-core Cortx A9 or an Intel processor with 1GB of RAM. The big difference between the two will be the ability to dock and display Desktop Ubuntu.
If you’re eager to try out Ubuntu for Phones, your holding pattern continues. Canonical still has no hardware partners nor carriers lined up to bring you this beautiful new mobile experience, but they are hoping that someone will reach out to them with this announcement.
All of the demonstrations for Ubuntu for Phones were shown off on renders of a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, suggesting that perhaps this will be something the Android community will be able to play with in the same way that CyanogenMod is made available. While there’s no talk of the source code becoming available immediately, images for the Galaxy Nexus will be available “soon” that rooted users will be able to flash onto their phones to try out. Ubuntu promises to have more information available during the Consumer Electronics Show, including a hands on with this new experience.