Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Canonical reveals an Ubuntu Phone OS

For a few days now, Canonical has left us in suspense on what was going to be revealed on January 2, 2013. Turns out that my (and many others) predictions were correct, or at least partly correct. I predicted that it was going to be some kind of touch device, but it was the OS for a touch device.

Ubuntu Phone will be able to run on a diverse selection of high end phones, and low end phones. The minimum requirements for Ubuntu Phone OS are:
System Requirements for Smartphones Entry level Ubuntu smartphone High-end Ubuntu 'superphone'
Processor architecture 1Ghz Cortex A9 Quad-core A9 or Intel Atom
Memory 512MB - 1GB Minimum 1GB
Flash Storage 4-8GB eMMC + SD Min 32GB eMMC + SD
Multi-touch Yes Yes
Desktop convergence No Yes
Oh, and if you care I wrote that table from scratch :)

Unlike Android, Ubuntu Phone is designed to be ran from low end device, and upwards. With prepaid Android phones (read: low end devices) becoming more popular, this could be a market where Ubuntu Phone could thrive. It can also breath life into older phones that won't get updates any more, but that's just my thoughts.

Right now you can't actually buy a phone that has Ubuntu Phone OS on it, but Canonical is trying to work with device makers to fix that. Users however will be able to download Ubuntu and install it themselves on select handsets. The device will be shown off at CES 2013, so stay tuned. Actual devices that run Ubuntu Phone will probably not come until the end of the year, but that can always change :)
As you can see from the photo above, the interface for the Ubuntu Phone OS resembles Unity, which is the interface that the official Ubuntu releases use from 11.04 (when the netbook and desktop used Unity).

Canonical will allow carriers to customize Ubuntu Phone so it can feature exclusive apps and other "goodies" for their audiences. However customization should not break the rest of the Ubuntu app ecosystem. Operators can also make phones with custom capabilities.
If an Ubuntu Phone is powerful enough, it can also run a full Unity desktop as well. This can allow companies and users alike to use only one devices to get their work done. You of course can also access phone features from the desktop, such as text messaging. On powerful phones, simply dock them to get to the full desktop.

Ubuntu Phone welcomes developers with full support for HTML5 web applications, and of course native apps. For HTML5, Ubuntu Phone also offers deep API integration that can give access to the operating system. HTML applications can also run "natively" without the need of a web browser to render them.

Ubuntu also released a video, which is publicly available on YouTube:
What are your thoughts on this? Would you use Ubuntu Phone? What would you like to see the OS do if you have some gripes? Though keep in mind, this is not Ubuntu for Android. This is entirely a Ubuntu operating system.