The latest update to the Ubuntu Touch operating system for smartphones and tablets is here, and it’s a big update, with changes to more than a third of all binary packages in the operating system.
With official releases available for 26 different phones and tablets, Ubuntu Touch OTA-16 includes a number of updates to core features of the operating system as well as improvements to specific applications like the Morph web browser. There are also some device-specific improvements coming to some of the more than two dozen phones and tablets that support Ubuntu Touch stable builds.
Here are some of the changes in the latest stable channel release of Ubuntu Touch:
- The Morph Browser now shows progress for downloads in a header icon rather than a full-screen download page, there’s a recent downloads panel, and there’s an option to re-open the most recently closed browser tab. The browser also now supports custom user agents and there’s an “always deny” option for web pages that request your location. Browser tabs are also taller when used on a tablet, making navigation more touch-friendly.
- Developers have upgraded the Qt framework from v5.95 to v.5.12.9, bringing Ubuntu Touch back into the Qt Long-Term Support cycle and bringing other features and improvements – there’s support for a hardware-accelerated camera viewfinder for the PinePhone camera, and support for video recording on 32-bit devices that had shipped with Android 7.
- The Anbox installer is now included by default. This gives users the option of installing this Android-in-a-box software that will allow them to run some Android apps in Ubuntu. It’s only available for devices that support the feature, and while the installer is included, you’ll have to actually run it to set things up yourself if you want to use Anbox.
- There’s support for animated images in the default Messaging application.
- There are bug fixes related to audio recording and playback across all core system apps.
Some device/hardware-specific updates include:
- Support for controlling the LED flashlight function on devices with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and Snapdragon 845 processors
- Support for auto-brightness on the Volla Phone and other hardware that may have shipped with Android 9
- The Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo+ has been added to the list of officially supported devices.
Existing Ubuntu Touch users can update through their system settings, with updates scheduled to roll out to all users between now and March 22 (although you can force an update if you’re impatient – scroll down to the “How to get OTA-16” part of the release announcement for details).
New users can use the UBPorts Ubuntu Touch installer with supported devices. Note that while the PinePhone and PineTab are officially supported, they’re updated independently from other devices and will not receive a single update called OTA-16. But they should get stable channel updates including many of the same features at some point.