Canonical's Ubuntu smartphone OS, in pictures

Canonical's Ubuntu smartphone OS, in pictures

Summary: Canonical has taken the wraps off its new Ubuntu OS platform for smartphones, ushering in a new generation of Ubuntu-powered devices and paving the way for the company's one-size-fits-all approach to platforms on different devices.


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  • Canonical has introduced its first full version of its Ubuntu phone platform, which unlike other operating systems, uses the same base software as its desktop and TV counterparts.

    The announcement forms part of Canonical's desire to have one platform for all screens: television, tablet, laptop and smartphone.

    Clearly looking to kick off the new year with a bang, Mark Shuttleworth, creator of Ubuntu and founder of Canonical, introduced the software in London on Wednesday evening.

    "The thing that makes Ubuntu different, unique, in the world is a convergence mission," Shuttleworth said. "We deeply believe all these different types of computing - phones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs, servers, cloud, supercomputers - can in fact run off one common platform."

    The OS, which Shuttleworth said treats native and web apps as 'equal citizens', is being pitched at a variety of users. For manufacturers that want to aim low-end devices at emerging or developing markets, Shuttleworth said the platform offers a cheap route to market. The Canonical founder also said the OS is simple to use, something he described as essential; Shuttleworth added that he thought Android was overly complicated in places.

    Shuttleworth also said the company had chosen to work with old hardware deliberately to show that the requirements of the system are low, should manufacturers wish to take the low-end route.

    However, while Canonical talked up the OS's prospects in the cheaper end of the market, it also envisages the system being used on high-end 'superphones' that offer multi-core processors and full desktop convergence.

    The first handset to run only the Ubuntu OS is not likely to arrive before the start of 2014; Shuttleworth confirmed the company currently had no commitments from manufacturers or operators. (Canonical has also developed Ubuntu for Android, which should start making it to market a little later in 2013.)

    At the announcement, Ubuntu was shown running on a Galaxy Nexus, pictured adove showing the welcome screen.

    The welcome screen has a constantly changing and evolving pattern behind the on-screen notifications, which cycle through showing you things like missed calls, messages received and other updates.

    Image: Ben Woods

  • Opening up the device you are taken to the home screen, which houses pretty much what you'd expect to see: a list of your apps, calling, texting, emailing and media options and a recently used apps list.

    Shuttleworth also said the platform as a whole offers an advantage over others as it doesn't require a Java Virtual Machine (such as Dalvik in Android). Ubuntu OS also supports ARM and x86-based devices.

    Image: Ben Woods

Topics: Smartphones, Mobile OS, Mobility, Open Source, Ubuntu

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • Yawn...

    Another uninspired user late in the game.
    After just reading about Tizen, there seems to be an emerging pattern here.
    • being able to plug your phone into a monitor

      and have a full desktop OS pop up is pretty inspired IMO
      • Meh

        So the full desktop OS pops up and you have no keyboard, mouse nor touch monitor. Pretty much like having netbook with dead keyboard attached to a giant monitor. Does not look impressive to me. Maybe a good idea on paper though.
  • Choice is good

    Up till now there are really only three choices Android, Apple, or Blackberry. These are the only valid choices anyways, but seeing this it would be worth checking out.
    Troll Hunter J
    • Windows Phone 8

      Windows Phone 8 is actually an option worth looking at. I love the Android platform, but am really loving WP8 as well. No, its app store is not as large as Android or iOS, but it does have everything that most of use (I don't need a fart or beer app). It is, however, very easy to use and learn, and looks damn nice in my very humble opinion.
  • Brand will kill this

    I cannot see this launching successfully. Too many backed deals with carriers and an OS that doesn't seem to have enough differentiation to get people to give up on more mature mobile Os's. also- that Brand name has got to change.
  • Canonical's Ubuntu smartphone OS, in pictures

    LOL it uses icons. Too cramped, they tried to put too many features into the phone and its going to be a huge failure. The OS looks ugly because of it. Can't wait to hear about those security reports that will be coming out for this.
    • LOL, it uses icons

      I suppose you look at a car and think, "LOL, it uses wheels". In case the past thirty years or so has escaped your notice, icons have been the main manner in which one used an OS. That is, until Microsoft's designers decided that big ugly tiles were MUCH better.
      Iman Oldgeek
      • YOu didn't understand LD's comment

        Do you? His intention was since Ubuntu uses icons, wait for the patent litigations from Apple to Ubuntu's OEMs. Yes, left side launcher bar reminds the ugly look of Samsung's tired (tried) Omnia (original ones) running with Windows Mobile circa 2007 and 2008. The launcher bar made the screen look busy. I know Ubuntu is powerful, and I use it regularly on one of my laptops at home and work, but this UI is definitely eye tiring. Could it be the Ubuntu's default color choice or placing too many icons with left side launcher bar. Even though I liked my Omnia during 2007 and 2008, I hated its look and feel especially the left launcher bar and had bought HTC Advantage.

        The success of this phone depends upon the ecosystem. I wonder would Google allow YouTube metadata to these guys or not is also another interesting thing to watch.

        Whethere I like it or not, I would end up getting one. :)
        Ram U
      • Icons are a thing of the past

        Live tiles like whats found in Microsoft Windows Phone is the new UI.
        • Loverock-Davidson flashing tiles really makes sense any where

          Flashing tiles are for a kiddies mind set............ not for a person trying to accomplish something ..........oh I forgot you probably are just a kiddie.....
          Over and Out
          • Do you remember

            flashing text in HTML in the mid 1990's?
            It got so damn annoying that all browsers dropped it.
          • coastin...what drives me so crazy is ...if its not appt isn't lashing you

            you must be out of step with the times .....mark my words.....everyone will get so so so tired of plashing tiles that they willl totally ignore every flashing ad.....Metro is turning into a piece of dung because of all those flashing adds.....thank goodness I have W8 in a dual boot and get away from those stupis flashing tiles and I glad I went with a dual boot...........W8 is crap
            Over and Out
          • Or...

            On one hand, you're right. Active tiles that convey useless information are, well, useless. I've uninstalled all the 'apps' that came with Win 8 for this reason. A NY Times app? I read their website every day. Why would I need an app? But the Start screen is very customizable, so it can be arranged to your liking. Have you tried that?

            And you're wrong in that Win 8 is "crap". If you cannot figure out how to use it, that's on you. Every child with computer experience that I've shown Win 8 to realizes within minutes that a Start screen, with all your important programs visible at ONE TIME, is a vast improvement over scrolling through the Start menu from Win 7 et al. And they ALSO realize that clicking the Start orb in the bottom left corner and just clicking on the bottom left corner are the same thing. I don't understand why children get this, yet the computer ninjas that comment on sites like this can't figure it out.

            It's more secure than Win 7, it manages memory better, and it's more accessible. If you are having a hard time adapting to the changes, you may not be as smart as you think you are.

            And whether you like it or not, Windows IS the worldwide standard personal computer interface. It just is. As the tablet form becomes as powerful as 'fixed' computers, the tablet will be the new norm. Most people will continue the have a lap/desktop machine, but the 2nd. (or 3rd, 5th.) PC in the home AND office will be a tablet. Even if you hate Microsoft, for whatever irrational reason, you must admit they would be dumb to ignore this. Right?

            Then there is Linux, which was the topic of the article. For my laptop, I find it limited, and I LIKE Windows. I've been using it since 3.1, and it's practically universal. But Ubuntu on a tablet or a phone is something I could get behind. That seems to be where it belongs. It's far and away superior to iOS and Android. Ubuntu is a real OS, not just a means to run games or check someones Facebook status.

            Ubuntu on portables is a great thing. I believe it's found it's home.
        • Live Tiles?

          OH! You mean Microsoft's version of widgets, right?
        • And the

          MS shilling begins....
    • security issues?

      HI :)
      Yes, comparing security issues for a given set period will be interesting. It's something i am looking forwards to. Of course most people include slow-downs, crashes and even needing to reboot as being security issues but obviously the Windows Phone can't count those because otherwise all the rest would win too easily. Just counting malware and remote attacks alone still tends to leave Windows in the dust.

      However, people are quite happy to suffer all that on the desktop. Lets see how happy they are with it on smart-phones and tablets now that people are familiar with how well non-Windows runs on those sorts of things.
      Regards from
      Tom :)
  • Hope they make it available for download

    Got an old iPhone 3GS lying around somewhere, would like to try and put this on the phone to get an idea of how good / bad it is. Will be nice to play around with none the less :)
    • I think that was covered in the video

      on the Ubuntu website. I'm sure a consumer version will be available for download when ready.
  • One size fits all OS..

    And aren't all the pundits already dissing Microsoft for taking that unified code approach? I suppose Ubuntu has so little desktop market share it doesn't really matter. I don't see developers bothering with yet another OS, sort of like Windows Phone. Too late, too little market share. The payout is with Apple and Android.