Canonical may have stopped developing/supporting a version of Ubuntu for smartphones and tablets. But the folks at UBPorts have kept the idea of a touch-friendly version of Ubuntu alive for the past year.
Now the team has released Ubuntu Touch RC OTA-4, which is the first version based on Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus.
That’s significant because Xenial is an LTS (Long Term Support) release, which means the underlying operating system will still be supported by Canonical until 2021.
Previous builds of Ubuntu Touch were based on Ubuntu 15.04, which hasn’t been officially supported since 2016.
Among other things, the move to a currently-supported branch makes life easier on the developers at UBPorts since they can receive upstream packages from the larger Ubuntu community, and they can submit their own contributions to the community.
Ubuntu Touch is still very much a work in progress and the developers note that there are a number of known issues in this release candidate, including a buggy web browser and the need to re-compile Ubuntu Touch apps that were previously designed to run on an Ubuntu 15.04-based version of the OS.
There are Ubuntu Touch builds available for a handful of (mostly older) smartphones including the OnePlus One, Google Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, Fairphone 2, Meizu Pro 5 and MX4, and a bunch of phones and tablets from Bq.