The new mobile OS has been coded around parts of Google’s Android OS and should mean that in theory, mobile Ubuntu should run on Android phones with only a few tweaks. Ubuntu phones are scheduled to hit the market in early 2014, and Canonical will be making downloadable images of the Ubuntu mobile development platform for the Galaxy Nexus available in a few weeks.
So far no mobile operators or handset makers have signaled support for the OS, but given its open source nature (which effectively makes the cost of using it zero), plus the fact that it’ll run on most Android hardware with very little modification, and the sheer size of the Ubuntu user community, it is potentially only a matter of time before announcements from telcos and device makers begin.
Much of mobile Ubuntu’s interface will be instantly recognisable to any Ubuntu user. Making use of a smaller screen sees swipe gestures from the edge of the screen driving much of the phone’s functionality. A swipe from the left to the right of the phone’s screen brings up an application dock that’s pretty much a dead ringer for its desktop counterpart, while swiping from the right flips through running apps. The concept looks very similar to what Blackberry implemented on their Playbook tablets and appears to be pretty intuitive.
The real kicker is that mobile Ubuntu-powered devices should be able to dock with keyboards and monitors to reproduce a PC-like experience, allowing users to carry a PC in their pocket.
Even though mobile Ubuntu has a lot going for it on paper, several sizeable players are already struggling in the overcrowded smartphone market, so it’s success isn’t guaranteed. Here’s hoping. PAT PILCHER