New mobile OS: a breakthrough, or the Tower of Babel? Part 2. Ubuntu Phone OS

Sergei Terekhov

Written by Sergei Terekhov | Thursday, 13 March 2014

My dear readers, meet the second part of my mobile OS research. In the first article I told you about Firefox OS and expressed an opinion that appearing of some new mobile operational systems may provoke a Tower of Babel situation at the mobile market. But today, let me introduce a system that is much more convincing that I could ever expect. So, meet Ubuntu Phone OS!

The Canonical company announced a special version of Ubuntu Linux designed for smartphones. The new version of the popular OS aims to create competition at the mobile OS market that is currently ruled by Android and iOS. 

Canonical claims to have created a complete Ubuntu ecosystem with an integrated environment, program shell, set of programs and standards ensuring unification of Ubuntu user experience on PCs, smart phones and servers. Mobile software developers believe that modern smart phones are powerful enough to use a single software platform with desktop computers. Such an approach may allow corporate IT administrators to use the same management tools for working with all devices in their company. It sounds very promising, doesn’t it? 

Two types of applications will be available for Ubuntu devices: created on C / C ++ using classic Linux-technologies and mobile applications designed using HTML5 and web technologies. Moreover, Canonical asserts that HTML5 apps written for other platforms can be adapted to Ubuntu by mobile application developers with minimal changes. The standard Ubuntu Apps directory will be used for application management.

Ubuntu Phone OS can already work with traditional phone functions, voice mail, SMS, MMS, e-mail, web browsers, photos, music and videos. There is a unified inbox here uniting all new messages, E-Mails, calls and messages in social networks of the device owner. The special "swipe" interface allowing to answer a message on Facebook or Twitter, or to send SMS or E-Mail just with a few touches is implemented in the Ubuntu Phone. 

I found very interesting that it will be possible to use a device running on Ubuntu Phone OS without touching it, using just your voice. Don’t you think that it looks like a serious competitor to Siri? The lock screen will also be absent on such device. Instead, users will face a multifunctional and individually customizable welcome screen. Moreover, each smart phone manufacturer may use this flexibility to customize the Ubuntu Phone interface and to achieve a unique design of its product in that way. The interface of interaction with the user should be mentioned separately, too. When you touch the screen edges, different actions will be performed providing you a unique multifunctional experience. But describing all these impressive features just with words doesn’t make much sense – so, I suggest you to watch this video:

Despite the fact that Canonical sees delivery of ready-made devices as its major task, you’ll get the possibility to easily install Ubuntu Phone OS on any of supported smart phones. In particular, there will be a separate version for the Galaxy Nexus that is currently used by mobile developers at the system development phase. The company plans to release devices running on Ubuntu Phone OS at the end of 2013, or at the beginning of 2014.

And one fundamental issue about Ubuntu Phone OS more – it will always be free of charge, including enterprise versions and security updates.

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