2013 seems like an odd time to talk about a brand new smartphone operating system, but that’s just what we got yesterday from Ubuntu, a popular indie operating system for PCs that is making its way to the smartphone.Like Android, Ubuntu is based on Linux and will be available as a free, open-sourced operating system.
In a lengthy online demo, we got our first look at Ubuntu for the smartphone.
It looks awesome.
Overall, the OS is much more open and free than Apple’s iOS, yet more polished than Android.
The true test for Ubuntu will be rallying the mobile developer community to make apps for the OS and getting hardware manufacturers excited enough to make phones that ship with it. In reality though, that’s easier said than done.
There are already three major mobile operating systems out today: iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. On January 30, RIM will introduce its new BlackBerry 10 operating system. However, the harsh reality is that it’s probably going to be too late for Ubuntu to take off by the time it’s ready at the end of the year.
Ubuntu announced its new operating system via a virtual keynote. The software firm's founder, Mark Shuttleworth, walked viewers through the state of Ubuntu today and what the company is doing to innovate.
Ubuntu on the desktop frees users from a traditional experience. It brings the Internet to your desktop, but not like Google's Chrome OS does.
Ubuntu is bringing its robust search to mobile. What's unique about Ubuntu's search is that the software will figure out for itself what you're looking for and where to search (desktop, web, cloud). One search produces loads of results from a bunch of different sources and puts the results in one place.
Ubuntu is addressing the problem of mobile desktop convergence. Today mobile operating systems are completely different from their desktop counterparts.
The first question Ubuntu answered was how to scale an operating system down from the TV to a mobile device you use in one hand.
The welcome screen is pegged as a visual representation of you. As you use the phone, the art will evolve.
Ubuntu's OS is the first to use every edge of the screen to get you to wherever you need to go. Each edge has a specific purpose.
You don't even have to unlock the phone to get to your favourite apps and there is no limit on the amount that can be placed on the side. The OS fully supports gestures so a quick swipe from the left side of the phone will bring up a customisable app bar.
Here's a close up of the app bar. It's completely secure, but easy to use. You don't have to go to a home screen first. At the bottom of the row of apps you can easily unlock the phone to get inside.
By default, recently used applications show up centre of the home screen. You can customise the rest of the home screen any way you want with apps, search results, favourite contacts, music, and much, much more.
if you want to jump straight to search you simply swipe down the top and start typing. You can find anything you want, on the phone, internet, or cloud.
The search and shopping experience is useful. It consolidates everything. For example, if you search for Tolkien, it will provide you with movies for download, books, tickets to movie theatres, and anything else that is relevant.
Swiping from one screen to another allows you to jump to different pages so the most important information is just one page away.
Ubuntu's apps are split into two different categories. Web apps based on HTML 5 and native apps, which are faster and more powerful.
You can interact with basic phone control from the top of the screen. It's easy to jump to the various system preferences just by tapping the top once and swiping between cell service, clocks, email apps, sounds, and pretty much anything else that is available up there.
A Siri-like voice assistant is available too, just simply speak what you want and the phone will fetch the results.
The OS integrated Ubuntu's cloud service Ubuntu One. All your apps, music, contacts, etc. are backed up to the cloud.
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