Ubuntu Joins The Mobile OS Fray; Will Demo It At CES 2013

Ubuntu, one of the most popular Linux distributions in the world unveiled some big plans day before yesterday. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu already has aspirations for Linux to leave the geekiness associated with it far behind and break into the consumer mainstream, something Android has successfully done. Ubuntu Mobile, Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu TV and Ubuntu Enterprise are the different products that the company has planned so that it can develop a tight yet open ecosystem.

What is the Ubuntu Phone OS?

Ubuntu Phone OS is a full fledged mobile OS which uses the Android kernel (modified Linux kernel) to run on mobile hardware. In terms of design and elegance, it looks exceptional. More than a year ago, Ubuntu developed a launcher/shell called Unity for its desktop, which attracted very strong opinions from its community.  Now when we look at the mobile interface, it is easy to see why the shell was designed that way. The mobile interface syncs perfectly well the desktop operating system. The new OS has no buttons and works on gestures from each side of the phone’s screen. Each gesture corresponds to some action.

What I am personally impressed by in the new OS is the solutions for the ‘apps problem’ that every new OS faces. As you know, iOS and Android have a tight hold on the app ecosystem. Ubuntu plans to solve this in a simple and painless way. Sometime back, Ubuntu released its latest iteration for the desktop versioned 12.10 or Quantal Quetzal which came with built-in native web app support. This was revolutionary for the OS because this was the first time users could go ahead and use services like Youtube, Twitter and Facebook as native desktop apps instead of browser based websites. When I tested it, it crashed a couple of times but I guess later updates must have fixed that issue. The same strategy is being deployed by Canonical for Ubuntu Mobile OS. You can run mobile websites as apps, complete with bookmarks and native system integration (notifications and hardware plugins). They basically become apps. If you want native apps, then the OS will come with toolkit  which you can use to develop native ones. Looks like the best of both worlds to me.

And the best part? The phone can dock with a display unit like the monitor and give you the complete Ubuntu desktop experience straight out of the box. This can change how people use mobiles and computers. If this works properly, I will be personally ridding myself of my laptop, something that I cannot even think of doing currently.

Here’s Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical’s Founder giving you all the details in an online keynote.

2013 seems to be the year of new mobile OSs with Sailfish, Firefox OS, BB 10, Tizen  and now Ubuntu Mobile OS. Will these new OS offerings dent the Android and iOS market share? Share your thoughts with us.

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