Canonical Unveils Ubuntu OS For Smartphones
January 3, 2013

Ubuntu OS Coming To Android Phones

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Canonical announced on Wednesday a new version of Ubuntu OS designed specifically for smartphones.

The Linux-based software will ultimately let users run desktop apps on a full range of smartphones, from entry level to the highest-end devices, although the code will initially be released as a file that can be installed on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone, Canonical said.

"It's quite incredible that we're at this point when the power of the phone is crossing over that with baseline processing power of basic laptops," said Ubuntu's founder, Mark Shuttleworth, in an interview with BBC News.

"We're taking advantage of that so for the first time in history you have the full consumer PC platform available on a phone.”

"I'm very confident if we look ahead over the next three to five years that's a transition that Apple is going to have to make... and if it's not Windows 9 it will be Windows 10 that will see Microsoft bring its phone and laptop together into one device. It's really cracking to do that ahead of everyone else,” said Shuttleworth, adding that he is in talks with a number of handset manufacturers about having devices come pre-installed with Ubuntu later this year.

Ubuntu for phones is not an entirely new operating system, but rather a "smartphone interface” that helps Ubuntu differentiate from other phone operating systems.

“What is remarkable about the Ubuntu phone interface is the extent to which it is instantly recognizable as Ubuntu in terms of how everything looks and works, yet it is perfectly designed for its form factor,” Canonical said in a blog posting on Wednesday.

Ubuntu phone will use the same drivers as Android, but can run well on entry-level smartphones as well, Canonical said.

The interface avoids Java in favor of native code. In fact, Ubuntu's Web site promotes both HTML5 and native code apps, a boon for developers who can create a single application for both the desktop and the PC.

Another benefit is that it doesn´t resemble any other mobile UI in existence today. Rather, it uses horizontal swipes to view most-used apps, and switch between apps, instead of the conventional app grid appearance of Android and iOS.

Ubuntu´s robust search functionality lets users receive results from multiple sources with a single search query, while the software determines which apps, content or products a user is most likely searching for.

Support for voice and text commands is also included, along with deep content immersion that means controls appear only when the user wants them.

Entry-level Ubuntu phones will require a 1Ghz Cortex A9 processor with 512MB to 1GB of memory. High-end smartphones that double as PCs will require a quad-core A9 or Intel Atom processor and at least 1GB RAM.

Canonical said it would try to avoid the type of fragmentation that Android experienced by offering "engineering services to offload the complexity of maintaining multiple code bases“¦ freeing the manufacturer to focus on hardware design and integration.”

"For silicon vendors, Ubuntu is compatible with a typical Android Board Support Package (BSP). This means Ubuntu is ready to run on the most cost-efficient chipset designs,” the company said.

Furthermore, the new interface "doesn´t have the overhead of a Java virtual machine, so all core applications run at full native speeds with a small memory footprint."

For interested developers, a QML toolkit and sample application is available for download here.

Canonical said an Ubuntu SDK that makes it easier to build applications that run on both the desktop and phone will be available in the future.

Phones running the new software will be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week.