Canonical has officially announced a new version of its Linux-based Ubuntu computer operating system for mobile phones. It will use the same basic kernel and drivers as Android, supporting both ARM and x86 processors. It will include a brand new UI and navigation. The company has confirmed Ubuntu for phones will be release in early 2014. Ubuntu mobile OS can also be loaded onto an existing Android phones, by making some little tweaks.
Canonical says that Ubuntu is the first OS created to work the same on mobile and desktop. Ubuntu for phones has been designed to offer to offer a “crisper, sharper” experience on low-end phones and it will make use of the same apps as Ubuntu for desktops. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth says that Ubuntu for phone comes in two modes – “lean mode”, which is compatible to run on an A9 ARM processor and 1GB RAM equipped phone. A “heavy mode” will run well on high-end hardware. Canonical also says that Ubuntu ready to run on the most cost-efficient chipset designs as it “is compatible with a typical Android Board Support Package (BSP). They will release system images very soon within the next few weeks that can be installed on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset.
There’s an unique feature called “Edge Magic”, letting the users to access content and switch between apps quickly using thumb gestures in each of the four corners of a phone’s screen. A swipe from right side will bring the last used app, and a swipe from the bottom side brings you the menu controls for the app you’re in (such as a unified Messaging tray, sound options, battery info, and etc.) and you can see the notifications and messages by swiping down from the top side of the screen.
If you swipe from left side, you will get the list of your favorite apps, a long swipe on the welcome screen shows you all your apps. The home screen includes recently used apps and recently contacted people. The menu bar includes a universal search function that users can access from any app and it’s worth noting that there won’t be a clock screen on Ubuntu for phones. It offers voice and text commands in any app, support for native and web/HTML5 apps. A QML toolkit and application SDK will be also made available in the near future to help developers building create native apps or HTML5 apps for the Ubuntu phones. On the plus side, the lack of virtual machine and ability to run apps natively means the Ubuntu phones will perform better, when compared to Android phones, as it does not use the Dalvik Virtual Machine.
You can also dock the Ubuntu phone and then connect it to a keyboard and mouse for a desktop-PC like experience
There was no word manufacturer or carrier support and app ecosystem for the official Ubuntu-powered smartphones, but the Ubuntu Software Centre will hold various apps, and the operating system will allow “customization options for partner apps, content, and services. Operators and OEMs can easily add their own branded offerings.” The first Ubuntu phone will be released by an unidentified “high-end” Android phone manufacturer.