Ubuntu smartphone has remained an elusive dream for the mobile junkies for some time. Since February last year, Linux geeks have been waiting for an Ubuntu phone to debut. This was the
time when Canonical, the maker of Ubunto rolled out a mobile OS release. Latter in the year, the decision to abort the project for Ubuntu Edge release dampened their spirits further. However Canonical’s recent announcement of sealing a deal with a handset manufacturer for shipping Ubuntu Touch handsets has again sparked off fresh speculations in the mobile industry
“I’m confident that in 2014 you’re going to see a number of Ubuntu phones hitting the market. I can’t tell you [who it will be] right now but I can tell you that some awesome things are happening,” Canonical community manager Juno Bacon revealed in a recent Google Hangout conversation.
If industry insiders are to be believed, no major handset makers are expected to ship a smartphone running the Ubuntu Touch OS until 2015. And even when the first Ubuntu Touch phone does debut, it is not expected to come out from the stable of a major handset manufacturer/carrier.
Even then, the Linux fans will find it worthwhile to dig deeper to find out why the saga of Ubuntu phones continues to linger. Does it really have the potentials to emerge as a (low cost) alternative to Android?
In a world where Android is at an undeclared, permanent cold-war with iOS, Windows OS is constantly putting efforts to be at per with its two more popular rivals, and Blackberry OS finds itself in a struggling-but-still- there existence, most of us are not sure whether we need any more mobile operating system. Under this backdrop, Canonical has been trying to get Ubuntu, its popular Linux based operating system mobile-ready, clearly in an effort to break the Android-iOS hegemony.
As we all know, Ubuntu, the Debian-based version of Linux has been an eye-shore for the mighty Microsoft for years. With over 10 million users and its $0 price, Ubuntu has been and is expected to remain a threat to Microsoft’s ubiquitous existence in both developed as well as developing countries. With the celebrated platform now jumping on the mobile bandwagon with an open agenda of serving the network operators, OEMs and ODMs, the tech-industry insiders are predicting new opportunities in the area of mobile-PC convergence. Ubuntu comes to phones with the promise of offering great performance on handsets with a low bill of materials.
Just think about it: with a high end Ubuntu phone in your possession, you might be able to ditch the laptop and carry the entire office in your pocket.
Based on the same old and familiar desktop Linux distribution, Ubuntu Touch does add an interesting twist to its mobile OS. Run it on a smartphone or tablet and it would it appear to the user as a normal mobile OS. But once you get it connected to a big screen (of a projector for example), it transforms itself into the desktop version.
Then, Ubuntu phones are designed to be intuitive, according to its makers. Ubuntu phones are made to understand the users’ behavior and evolve accordingly. Search features are expected to be smarter with Ubuntu phones. The default search engine, Ubuntu Dash is designed to remember the search pattern for next time, according to Ubuntu website.
Another positive point about Ubuntu phone is: it packs all-native core apps without Java overhead and it uses the same drivers as Android. Thus it won’t be unjustified if you expect a better experience with Ubuntu phones.
Now unlike many new-born platforms that struggle on the app-development ground, Linux-based Ubuntu with its thriving eco-system does not have to face any such challenge at all. All they have to do is tweak the modules of the apps for mobile experience. In fact, a number of popular mobile apps developers have already shown interest in developing Ubuntu Touch-supported apps.
However, the Ubuntu Touch OS is still in the immature, nascent stage. Till date, it is supported only in the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 smartphones and the 2012 Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets. The first version of the platform was released only few months back, in October last year and that is with a limited selection of applications. That Canonical aspires to roll out a single computing device to serve as a phone and desktop PC, by merging the code base for every version of the Ubuntu OS, across desktops, phones, tablets and servers, sounds futuristic and promising.
For the developers and power smartphone lovers, the message s clear: check Ubuntu Touch out.