Ubuntu Phone OS coming in 2014, Ubuntu on Android in 2013

Ubuntu maker Canonical is getting into the smartphone business in a big way. The company has announced it’s developing a version of its popular Linux-based operating system designed to run on smartphones, with the first Ubuntu Phone OS handsets scheduled to hit the streets in 2014.

Meanwhile, this year the company plans to partner with Android smartphone makers to ship the first devices featuring “Ubuntu on Android,” a solution that lets you dock your Android phone to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to use your phone as a full-fledged desktop computer. When you’re away from your desk, you can use your phone as a normal Android handset.

Ubuntu Phone OS

Canonical first introduced Ubuntu for Android in 2013, but it looks like the software should finally be ready to go this year.

But it’s starting to sound like a bit of a stop-gap measure until Ubuntu Phone OS is ready to go next year. The company also plans to make software available for download before then, which The Verge says you’ll be able to install on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, one of the most developer-friendly phones on the market right now.

Those phones won’t be able to run Android apps at all, and instead will run software developed for Ubuntu Phone OS. On higher-end phones, you’ll also be able to dock your Ubuntu phones and connect a display and keyboard to run desktop-style apps, but on the go you’ll run mobile apps developed specifically for the new mobile version of Ubuntu.

Information for app developers is already available at developer.ubuntu.com, and the OS will support apps written in native code as well as web or HTML5 apps.

The user interface will incorporate edge gestures, a global search function, and support for voice and text commands. Some of the ideas look pretty interesting — for instance, instead of a “lock screen,” there’s a “welcome screen” which shows notifications and other data as soon as you turn on the device. But you can launch apps from that screen by swiping from the edge of the screen to bring up shortcuts.

You can start to get a look at how Ubuntu Phone OS looks at around the 7 minute mark in the long video below, or just scroll down to the shorter “trailer” video.

  • Great Wall

    This just makes the lack of a way to run Android apps on Linux (like Wine) all the more ridiculous. More pointless platform fragmentation. Sometimes I think Canonical’s completely lost the plot.

    • http://www.esn.me/ Marcus Ekwall

      You are wrong. Android is fragmenting the Linux platform with Android-specific applications that doesn’t run on a Linux desktop. Canonical is moving towards unifying the experience between all devices, and therefor working against the fragmentation you are talking about.

      • Alan

        Wouldn’t devs still need to make separate apps for Ubuntu desktop and phone OS’s? Maybe the same amount of effort to make apps for Android and any other Linux desktop distro.

        Did they mention specifically that it’s easy to create an app for both the desktop and phone? I know Microsoft has with their Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 OS’s but haven’t really seen it happen (I’m not actively looking though).

      • http://www.esn.me/ Marcus Ekwall

        Mobile apps will most likely exist as separate packages (as it already is today with different platforms), but they will share SDK, ecosystem and delivery platform (Ubuntu Software Center). This allows developers to use the same code base, libraries and tools for building apps that are aimed to work on multiple/all devices. So its not the same as with Android and iOS where you have to port your app to Java and Objective-C respectively.

        “With the arrival of the Ubuntu SDK, apps can be written to work on all Ubuntu form-factors: it’s the same Ubuntu OS on the desktop and on the phone, so a single native application can work on both.” – Quote from http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/phone/app-ecosystem

        Also, take a look at the following once it recovers from the Slashdot effect: http://developer.ubuntu.com/gomobile

  • Joe

    So are they going to put Amazon ads in there by default too?

    If I ever use an Ubuntu phone, it’ll probably be at least a few years after it’s been out. That’s what I did with Android. It was pretty bad in the beginning.

    • http://www.esn.me/ Marcus Ekwall

      Ugh, I hope not. I hate ads no matter if they’re for Amazon or not.

      Regarding your view on Android’s fair beginnings. The same thing could be said about nearly everything. In retrospect the first cars, computers and browsers sucked, but that’s because we have something to compare to.

      As a tinkerer I will probably install it as soon as it is released into the wild (considering that I own a Galaxy Nexus which is the only supported device atm). This is how I see it: The earlier I jump on the wagon, the sooner I can influence and contribute to the final product. I consider that a privilege :)

      • Joe

        I didn’t mean to target Android specifically. I know that many products don’t come out problem free especially today where many companies make use of early adopters as testers. I’m just not an early adopter/beta tester. I’m an end user.

  • Alan

    I’m not liking the tap, hold and drag action for the launcher and top bars. Especially with one-handed thumb use.

    Hopefully, there is a lock screen with some sort of password or gesture to unlock.

    • Plinko

      Looking at that trailer, single thumb use is definitely not easy. I can see this work with tablets but not a phone where it’s often held and controlled by one hand.

  • Lucky

    I’m afraid Mark Shuttleworth and Steve Ballmer have been poisoned by the same KoolAid

  • http://twitter.com/erlikk Tech-no-media blog

    If it can’t run android apps I do not see this being a success as a phone OS. Android and iOS a petty much the standart platform for mobile apps and games nowadays. The idea of Ubuntu on android looks interesting on the other hand.

    • allan

      The 20 million of us who use Ubuntu may disagree.

  • http://www.mantrais.com/ SteveM

    This is really good that Ubuntu is available for the smartphones and able to run on most of the android phones. But it lacks the application’s support to become popular and standard mobile os.

  • ARXD

    Canonical is aiming very high! NICE!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/thomas.echevarria.5 Thomas Echevarria

    Ubuntu is shooting themselves in the foot. You do not announce a product and then wait a year to release it to the general public! This gives your competitors time to catch up. This was not a very smart move!!