Ubuntu-based smartphones announced for Q3 2013

By on January 2, 2013, 5:00 PM

It appears Google's Android and Apple's iOS are about to face some new competition: Ubuntu. Canonical, the primary organization who backs Ubuntu, has announced a mobile-centric version of the OS which aims to debut on two different smartphones. The devices are slated for a late 2013 release.

The two new smartphones include an "entry level" model powered by a 1GHz Cortex A9 with 512-1024MB of RAM and 4-8GB of flash storage. The second model, a "high-end superphone" handset, will feature a quad-core A9 or Intel Atom APU, 1GB or more RAM and pack 32GB of internal storage.

Ubuntu for smartphones appears to take some cues from Palm OS or even BlackBerry 10, favoring gestures like finger swipes and taps to intuitively reveal settings, display features and switch tasks.

Interestingly, Ubuntu mobile should work on any Android-based device, as both operating systems share the same driver module support.

Ubuntu has already been adapted to run on chipsets using the ARM and Intel x86 architectures relevant for mobile devices, with the core system based around a typical Android Board Support Package (BSP). So chipset vendors and hardware manufacturers do not need to invest in or maintain new hardware support packages for Ubuntu on smartphones. In short, if you already make handsets that run Android, the work needed to adopt Ubuntu will be trivial.

When it comes to apps, Ubuntu hopes to flex its partnerships with big players like EA and Valve. Additionally, the OS will fully support HTML5 for both easily written and easily ported apps. If native apps are your thing though, developers may also take advantage of Ubuntu's C/C++, OpenGL, QML and JavaScript support.

Ubuntu is also pushing its boundaries beyond just PCs and smartphones though, hoping to land itself on your television or even alongside your existing Android device. Canonical is touting its OS as the only truly "universal" OS that can find a home on virtually anything.




User Comments: 16

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hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

This is a joke right? I'm going to push my luck and laugh now at Ubuntu getting taken out by Android. And at that point, the primary organization who backs Ubuntu, will be renamed - Ironical.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

This is definitely interesting. It'll be like a more mainstream 'official' version of Android off-shoots such as MIUI, Cyanogenmod, etc.

1 person liked this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'd have been more impressed to see a push for a true tablet version of Ubuntu, but I'm guessing the phone OS scales up - much like early iOS on iPad perhaps? Either way, I'm sure it's not a joke. Consider that it will work on virtually any recent Android-supported hardware out there already. Manufacturers don't have to redesign or rework an entire product line. And, as I caught in a few other articles about this launch elsewhere on the net, they are intending to target enterprise and business hard. Makes sense, since that is where Ubuntu is strongest right now, and RIM hasn't been doing a great job of maintaining their dominance in that arena.

Gonna be interesting when this phone OS and the Firefox phone OS start to really muddy the smartphone waters... Still think that the tablet is where those new OS options could most shine, and perhaps generate traction for the smartphone side of things. I guess time will tell.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I think there's a misprint in the first line of the article. It reads 'Google and Apple are about to face some new competition' but really Ubuntu will be competing with Microsoft, for the spot in distant 3rd.

Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't one of the attractions to Linux the ability to customize an open source OS? And doesn't Android already provide that?

1 person liked this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think there's a misprint in the first line of the article. It reads 'Google and Apple are about to face some new competition' but really Ubuntu will be competing with Microsoft, for the spot in distant 3rd.

Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't one of the attractions to Linux the ability to customize an open source OS? And doesn't Android already provide that?

I think the answer to that question lies in your first observation about who this will really compete against. The implied beauty of Ubuntu on a smartphone is that it will be functionally and programmatically identical to the desktop and other versions. The closest comparison to this is Microsoft's push with Windows Phone and Windows RT and the prevalence of the Metro interface, but there is still a disparity between those platforms and Windows 8 (as far as program interchangeability). In theory, Ubuntu will be the same, and run all of the same programs, across all levels from smartphone to server. In some ways, it's really a "holy grail" type of goal for integrating tech.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

It will only run if it's coded to run on ARM too. Not 100% of apps do this.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It will only run if it's coded to run on ARM too. Not 100% of apps do this.

Well, from what I can gather in a brief glance at some chatter around development circles, and according to the official Ubuntu site... If you are using HTML5 or their QML development system, it doesn't seem to matter what it runs on. All that matters it it's the same Ubuntu in either case.

Now, if you decided to directly program to specific hardware, and lock yourself into a position that does not allow cross-platform compilation... Then I'd say you might have some issues.

Jay Pfoutz Jay Pfoutz, Malware Helper, said:

For those that aren't aware (at least half that have commented thus far), Ubuntu is far different than Android. From what I've seen, Ubuntu is just as friendly, if not better.

Det Det said:

Ubuntu is just as friendly, if not better.

True. It's not better.

PinothyJ said:

I want one thing, and one thing only: to have control of my own phone. If Ubuntu or Mozilla can give me that with their offering than I am all yours.

Sigh...

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I want one thing, and one thing only: to have control of my own phone. If Ubuntu or Mozilla can give me that with their offering than I am all yours.

Sigh...

Wait...what? Unlocked bootloader phones, rooted ROMS.. not enough?

PinothyJ said:

Wait...what? Unlocked bootloader phones, rooted ROMS.. not enough?

All of that voids the warranty of my phone, you fool...

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

All of that voids the warranty of my phone, you fool...

That's at the hardware level. I don't see how Ubuntu will both allow it (unlocked), and still include it in warranty.

PinothyJ said:

That's at the hardware level. I don't see how Ubuntu will both allow it (unlocked), and still include it in warranty.

If I can have control on my PC why not my phone -- this is not an unreasonable request...

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

If I can have control on my PC why not my phone -- this is not an unreasonable request...

Pretty sure messing with the BIOS on an OEM machine will void your warranty too.

PinothyJ said:

Pretty sure messing with the BIOS on an OEM machine will void your warranty too.

Those are not even remotely related, and no it does not...

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