Thursday 3 January 2013

Ubuntu phone OS debuts, first devices may launch in 2014

Canonical has just officially announced the mobile version of Linux operating system Ubuntu. Built around Android kernel and drivers, the Ubuntu phone OS does not use Java Virtual machine. Company is promoting the OS as a smartphone interface of the existing and popular Ubuntu Linux distro.

“Ubuntu uniquely gives handset OEMs and mobile operators the ability to converge phone, PC and thin client into a single enterprise superphone,” Canonical noted in a press release.

Unlike the usual, there are no launch partners or device manufacturers right now. Even Canonical is using Galaxy Nexus as the supported device to showcase its phone OS. Company says any device that can run Android should be able to fine with Ubuntu Phone OS too.

Coming to the OS interface, Ubuntu does not use the screen buttons that much and relies heavily on edge swipes.  Here is a look at prominent features of the OS:

Edge magic: thumb gestures from all four edges of the screen enable users to find content and switch between apps faster than other phones.
Deep content immersion – controls appear only when the user wants them.
A beautiful global search for apps, content and products.
Voice and text commands in any application for faster access to rich capabilities.
Both native and web or HTML5 apps.
Evolving personalised art on the welcome screen.

As we have already told you, there are no launch devices right now, but Canonical did hint at the press conference that we might see the first devices in early-2014. It is aiming for both the high-end superphone, and the entry-level basic smartphone markets.

“We expect Ubuntu to be popular in the enterprise market, enabling customers to provision a single secure device for all PC, thin client and phone functions. Ubuntu is already the most widely used Linux enterprise desktop, with customers in a wide range of sectors focused on security, cost and manageability” said Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical. “We also see an opportunity in basic smartphones that are used for the phone, SMS, web and email, where Ubuntu outperforms thanks to its native core apps and stylish presentation.”

Canonical will also be releasing the downloadable images of the Ubuntu phone development platform for the Galaxy Nexus over the next couple of weeks.

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