Hardware, Software Programs

Canonical Teases Ubuntu for Phones, Shows Desktop Convergence

We’ve been long awaiting Canonical’s final announcement of Ubuntu for Phones, specifically with the support of Android. This is primarily because of the fact that they’ve been touting the possibility of convergence between phones and desktops.

Today’s announcement of Ubuntu for Phones is specifically designed to lead up to CES and MWC. Canonical will be showing phones at this year’s CES 2013 next week where we’ll be sure to capture some pictures and possibly videos of the interface. Ubuntu for Phones and Android, by extension, is designed to give users the ability to not only use their phones more effectively with newer and arguably better interfaces, but also to be able to dock one’s phone to a desktop.

Some may argue that tablets are a better solution for desktop docking, which is certainly a valid point, however, being able to port the experience from Android phones to tablets should be fairly simple. Since people now use their smartphones more than any other device, it actually seems logical to perfect the experience with the most commonly used devices first. Not to mention, releasing Ubuntu for Phones first also enables Canonical to work within a much larger ecosystem than currently available Android tablets.

I have always seen the coming of quadcore phones as an opportunity for device manufacturers to harness the unused power. Because, truthfully, in many scenarios mobile smartphone users are not nearly using up most of the power that their quadcore Tegra 3 phones like my HTC One X or Snapdragon S4 Pro devices like the LG Optimus G. Interestingly, Canonical actually has a guide to what hardware they consider to be entry-level and what they consider high-end. They recommend as an entry-level that users’ smartphones have at least a 1GHz A9 ARM processor and between 512MB to 1GB of RAM as well as 4-GB of internal memory. This will enable the standard experience, but not the real winning scenario of desktop convergence.

In order to enable desktop convergence, Canonical recommends that Ubuntu for Phone/Android devices sport a minimum of a quadcore A9 ARM processor or a dualcore Intel Atom x86 processor. Additionally, they state that they recommend a minimum of 1GB of RAM and a minimum of 32GB of internal memory. This last requirement seems a bit lofty when you consider that most smartphones ship with a 16GB memory card. Although, phones like the HTC One X+ do in fact ship standard with 32GB of internal memory. MicroSD cards are also a possibility, but currently very few Android smartphones actually have microSD card slots, which we believe is a problem (and has been). If you meet these minimum requirements, then your device will support desktop convergence and can set your phone into a desktop dock.

With the addition of this operating system, we could likely see an even more increased push towards Linux than we have ever seen before. With content providers like EA and Valve also committing to Linux, there is a good chance that Linux could finally become an actual competitor to iOS and Windows. Since Ubuntu for Linux is so heavily HTML5 it will also enable for more unified experiences across different devices and usage scenarios. On Canonical’s site they state, "If you already make handsets that run Android, the work needed to adopt Ubuntu will be trivial."

As we get closer to CES 2013 and MWC, we’ll be trying to bring you more information about Ubuntu for Phones and for Android. We’ll be very interested to see how it works in an actual user environment and how much better or worse the interface can be compared to the competition.