Canonical was supposed to launch a new product and on the first working day of this year and they launched Ubuntu for Phone. It was previously thought that they would be launching Ubuntu for Android, but rumors also suggested that it could be Ubuntu for Phone, and we all were taken by surprise.
Ubuntu for Phone is an all new open source smartphone operating system which is basically a fully featured Ubuntu, but with an all new interface that is designed for touch screen interaction. Since Ubuntu is an open source project, so is Ubuntu for Phone and hence there will be 100% transparency. This also means that we will be getting interim ROMs using which we can test the software and report bugs.
While devices running Ubuntu for Phone aren’t expected to come in the market before 2014, Engineering Manager in Product Strategy for Canonical, Alan Pope, recently said that they will be publishing the images by late February. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth has already made it clear that Ubuntu for Phone ROM can be flashed onto any Android device using a relatively easy process.
As of now, we have seen Galaxy Nexus running the true open source mobile OS, and looking on the hands on video, the operating system looks very laggy. There is a great lag while scrolling up and down, and that’s alright since what we saw was probably the Alpha version, there is a lot of scope for improvement. That’s one main reason why they are holding back the ROM release and waiting until late February. Work is definitely being done on the platform, and it seems that Ubuntu for phones has already gotten a performance update.
The video has been embedded above and it is coming from Mika Meskanen, an Ubuntu interaction designer. The video shows two Galaxy Nexus devices, one running the original laggy build while the other one is running the updated ROM. As you can see, the improvements are evident. It can be clearly seen that scrolling is much smoother whereas there are lag and stutters in the UI of older build. Now that scrolling, which was the most noticeable issue, has been improved, more performance updates in the coming weeks will make the operating system pretty responsive by the time it is made public.
Everything looks good with Ubuntu for Phone, but the main question is will it be able to capture any market when launched in 2014. Till now, no carrier or manufacturer has come forward to support this new software. As of now, Canonical has laid down the system requirements for their upcoming smartphones. The entry level Ubuntu smartphone will be powered by 1Ghz Cortex A9, 512MB or 1GB of RAM and support for 4-8GB eMMC + SD. The hardware should support multitouch. The High-end Ubuntu “superphone” on the other hand will be powered by Quad-core A9 or Intel Atom, at least 1GB of RAM and Min 32GB eMMC + SD. What are your thoughts on the specifications? Let us know using the comment form below.