A small team of developers from Debian, one of the most established Linux projects, created a Linux desktop called Ubuntu, available to all totally free of cost, with its first release in 2004. Canonical, the Ubuntu services provider which funds the OS through the company’s portfolio of services has announced a smartphone interface for the OS. This announces their intentions to get into the phone arena apart from PCs and television.
Ubuntu is available for mobile operators, handset OEMs and silicon vendors for the very first time. Canonical seems to be pushing for an OS that will be adaptable to different kinds of devices.
The Ubuntu OS for smartphones has been optimized for email, web, messaging, calls and media consumption. Ubuntu phones will cater to mainly two key segments. One is for those who require wanting a basic but elegant smartphone. The other is for those who require desktop capability and enterprise-grade thin client via a secure smartphone.
Ubuntu for entry level and high-end smartphones
Ubuntu OS for entry-level smartphones offers a stunning interface. When compared to Android, Ubuntu OS is uncluttered and easy to use. The existing OS for smartphones does not offer good experience with phones having low bill-of-materials. However, with Ubuntu, even entry level phones get a sharper interface which is more responsive and easier to use.
Ubuntu does not require the use of a Java virtual machine. This significantly improves the performance of native apps and enables the use of hardware capabilities to the full extend. Ubuntu also provides support for web applications for portable application development. This targets all platforms including Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is very popular especially in security-conscious enterprises. Ubuntu for high-end smartphones serve to provide this very capability, converting it into a ‘Superphone’ that will act as a secure PC. When docked with keyboard, monitor and mouse, the smartphone running on Ubuntu OS turns into a desktop enabling the use of Ubuntu management tools.
Characteristics of Ubuntu OS for smartphones
Ubuntu provides a cleaner interface for most apps, with room for lot of content. It makes efficient use of the space on the smartphone screen offering fast access and switching between apps. Ubuntu requires Cortex A9 dual core processor clocked at 1 GHz as well as a 512 MB RAM to run. The OS will be supported in low-end phones that are released in 2013.
Ubuntu offers the following advantages over the existing OS for smartphones.
- Competitive alternative to existing OS
- Relationships with OEMs who incorporate Ubuntu in PCs
- Already existing app ecosystem and developer community
- Great performance in entry level and high-end phones
- Customization possible for OEM and operators
- Converging desktop, phone and thin client on a single high-end smartphone
Differences of Ubuntu phone OS from other market players
Several features of Ubuntu phone OS gives it an edge over the existing phone OS such as iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
- Ubuntu offers an elegant, distinctive, sophisticated but very natural-looking interface for displaying the content. This is an advantage over Windows which has over-simplified style and iOS which has glossy and photo-realistic icons.
- Ubuntu is a complete PC OS. Due to the late entry of the phone OS into the market it can run a complete PC environment. This is unlike Android, which was initially meant for older PCs and hence has limitations. Ubuntu has the ability to use all CPU cores.
Since Ubuntu is an open OS, manufacturers who ship Android phones will find Ubuntu more appealing than Windows Phone.
Ubuntu’s popularity among developers
Catering to both entry-level phones and high-end phones, Ubuntu is expected to have a strong presence in emerging markets. Ubuntu already has a good base with mobile developers, which ensures positive prospects for the OS to be a hit with them
- Majority of Android developers develop mobile apps using Ubuntu
- Ubuntu will provide Firefox and Chromium browsers along with HTML 5 and other first class web apps. This will be attractive to developers targeting cross-platform audiences.
- Game engines support Ubuntu since the OS provides native access to GPU functions
- Native app developers also make use of SDK for Ubuntu OS for creating well-performing applications.
Ubuntu smartphones are expected to be launched globally at competitive prices, with the initial launch expected to be in Western Europe, late 2013.
Ubuntu’s interface for smartphones is the result of pushing for an OS that is supported on all devices and one that will offer the full advantages of a desktop. Ubuntu OS for smartphones improves the performance of low-end phones and provides high-end smartphones the capability to act like a PC. Ubuntu phone OS will be an excellent alternative to existing phone operating systems due to its many advantages and popularity with developers.