Ubuntu recently showcased their newest venture, Ubuntu for mobile phones. It look every bit as Ubuntu Desktop OS and unlike anything you have seen on any mobile device yet.
If you don’t know what it is, you better watch this trailer to get an overview.
The User Interface:
- The whole OS is based on gestures. There are no buttons. Think of it as Windows 8, only on a phone.
- Ubuntu has said goodbye to the lock screen. Now you have a ‘welcome screen’ which shows all of your notification on screen.
- Swipe in from the left to see all of your Apps. The list and icons are taken right from Ubuntu Desktop.
- Swipe from right all the way to the left to switch between the apps. The trailer shows this as an incredibly smooth gesture, but of course it’s simulated. Real world demos of the early build show a lot of lag during this action.
- Swipe all the way from left to right to go to the Home screen from anywhere in the OS.
- Swipe up from the bottom to see options while using an app. This is the Ubuntu equivalent to the Menu button in Android.
- One of the most useful feature of Ubuntu is the Notification Menu. You pull it down from the top, just like android, but there is a twist. When you pull down the menu from the corresponding icons, you get customized options. Like, if you pull down from the Message icon you get all the messages, from all the apps, and you can reply or delete them from the drop down menu itself. This is incredibly useful when you want to just quickly connect to Bluetooth or set an alarm.
You can start using from next month.
If you have a Galaxy Nexus that is. Images for Galaxy Nexus will be available from next month. Of course it won’t be bug free and buttery smooth but you will be able to be part of the development on a brand new OS. How often does that happen?
It can run on any Android Phone.
Ubuntu is giving driver support for every Android phone that passes the minimum spec requirement. If a developer is gracious enough to port Ubuntu for your phone, you might just be running this in a couple of months, on your old hardware. If this works out well, many users will be able to breathe new life into old phones that have started to lag on Android. This is what Ubuntu does on PCs, extends the life of your hardware, it will be interesting to see how it works out on Android Phones.
But you can’t run Android Apps.
Sorry developers. Ubuntu does not support Java ( for good reasons). so you will have to port your app to this new ecosystem. If that sounds like too much of a hassle, your HTML5 based web app will do just fine on Ubuntu. It can still send notification and run as an app on Ubuntu. Although you will miss out of core features that native apps support.
Coming next year.
Although you can test Ubuntu on Galaxy Nexus and may be port it on other phones, if you want an official phone with hardware designed specifically for Ubuntu, you will have to wait for at least a year. Ubuntu Phones will not start shipping before Q1 2014.
Watch this space for more details about Ubuntu and it’s future in the heated Mobile OS wars.
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