The developers of Ubuntu Touch have released their 18th stable update to the GNU/Linux distribution for smartphones and tablets.

One of the key changes in Ubuntu Touch OTA-18? The folks at UBPorts say it “almost always feels feaster” than the previous release on the same device. That’s especially important for older hardware with aging specs.

Ubuntu Touch on the F(x)tec Pro1-X

Ubuntu Touch OTA-18 will be available in the next week for nearly 30 supported devices, including newer phones like the Volla Phone and F(x)tec Pro1. But it also supports older hardware like the 6-year-old BQ Aquaris E4.5 (which has a 1.3 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor, 1GB of RAM, and just 8GB of storage).

So refining the operating system to use less RAM can bring noticeable performance improvements. For example, it takes anywhere from 30MB to 60MB less RAM to render wallpapers in the Lomiri user interface.

Other changes in OTA-18 include:

  • You can open the terminal app by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T.
  • The on-screen keyboard now pops up automatically when you open a new browser tab in the Morph web browser.
  • The keyboard also has a degree (°) symbol now.
  • The messaging app has support for stickers.
  • Alarms are now snoozed from the time when you hit snooze and not from the start of the alarm. If you miss an alarm, it’s also now snoozed rather than dismissed.
  • Call audio now works on the Pixel 2.
  • The media-hub system has been rewritten, which is a mostly behind-the-scenes thing, but it paves the way for improvements in apps that take advantage of Ubuntu Touch’s centralized media playback system to do things like pause media when you take a phone call. For example, picture-in-picture playback or centralized EQ settings may be possible eventually.

Ubuntu Touch OTA-18 is still based on the aging Ubuntu 16.04 code base, but the folks at UBPorts are continuing to work on porting the mobile operating system to Ubuntu 20.04. It’s unclear when the transition will take place though.

One more thing to keep in mind is that everything listed above applies to Ubuntu Touch for all officially supported devices except for the PinePhone and PineTab, which are updated independently and don’t receive OTA-branded updates.

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