Back at XDA:DevCon 2013, Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon gave a talk about the future of Ubuntu on mobile devices. Also at the conference, Ubuntu coder Michael Hall held a Ubuntu Touch Development Workshop aimed at spurring and fostering application development for the soon-to-be-ready platform. Both of these presentations can now be viewed online. Fast forward a few months, and Ubuntu for phones is now available for its first two devices.
Coinciding with the desktop Ubuntu 13.10 release, Ubuntu for phones is now officially available for installation on the Google Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The release bills itself as being feature complete, with quite a few bells and whistles available including gesture control for multitasking and regularly used apps, click packages, cloud photo storage, easy access to search from anywhere, extensive personalization possibilities, and a set of APIs with which to build new applications. And because all of the included core applications run natively rather than through an interpreter, Ubuntu promises high levels of performance.
While today’s release is a very big step forward, not everything is fully baked just yet. Only two devices are currently supported. And even for those devices, the experience isn’t quite perfect. For starters airplane mode and a lock screen have not yet been added. And remember the promise of convergent computing where a smartphone can function as a complete PC, as long as it meets the minimum requirements? Well, that’s not yet available. Despite the limitations, today’s release is quite exciting. It’s always nice to see other software options available for the devices that some of us already own.
Head over to the Ubuntu for Phones splash page and follow the relatively simple instructions. More information about the specific capabilities and limitations in today’s release can be found here. Finally, those looking into community-based progress on Ubuntu for Phones for other devices should head over to the Ubuntu Touch Wiki.