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Ubuntu Cellphones Operating Systems

Ubuntu Phone OS Unveiled 248

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-new-contender-appears dept.
Today Canonical announced Ubuntu for phones. The new operating system is designed to provide easier access to apps and content than is provided by current mobile OSes. They do this by relying on swipe gestures from the edges of the phone's screen. "Every edge of the phone is used, letting you move faster between apps, settings and content. A short swipe from the left edge of the screen is all it takes to reveal your favourite apps. Page either left or right from the home screen to see the content you use most. A full left-to-right swipe reveals a screen showing all your open apps, while a swipe from the right brings you instantly to the last app you were using. ... A swipe from the right edge takes you back to the last app you were using; another swipe takes you back to the app you used before that. It’s natural to keep many apps open at once, which is why Ubuntu was designed for multi-tasking. ... Swiping up from the bottom edge of the phone reveals app controls." The Ubuntu phone OS is built to work well on low-powered devices. Canonical will be at CES next week working on raising interest from manufacturers. As far as software goes, they have this to say: "Web apps are first class citizens on Ubuntu, with APIs that provide deep integration into the interface. HTML5 apps written for other platforms can be adapted to Ubuntu with ease, and we’re targeting standard cross-platform web app development frameworks like PhoneGap to make Ubuntu ‘just work’ for apps that use them." (In the attached video, the phone OS discussion starts at about 6:37.)

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Ubuntu Phone OS Unveiled

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  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:32PM (#42452451)

    Here's the keynote. Skip to about 6:35 sec for the new bits.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpWHJDLsqTU [youtube.com]

    Direct link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpWHJDLsqTU&feature=player_detailpage#t=401s [youtube.com]

    First thoughts:

    2014 is a long way away and a whole year is an eternity in mobile space.

    It kind of looks like Unity in portrait mode but without the dock.

    What does it bring new to developers that isn't there in Android? Firefox OS's USP is web apps with native bindings(same as WebOS').

    It says it uses the Android kernel and drivers to be compatible with the hardware, so will OEM(s) shipping devices with this OSes fall foul of Google's anti-fork rules[1] for Android? Or does that apply only to the Android SDK/Dalvik VM?

    [1] http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57512418-94/alibaba-google-forced-acer-to-drop-our-new-mobile-os/ [cnet.com]

    • It will be really open unlike Android. As you point out Google is trying to stamp out forking which is really hypocritcal given Android is basically a fork itself and it wasn't that long ago that the Linux community was complaining that Google take without giving back.
      • by Shoten (260439) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:44PM (#42453257)

        It will be really open unlike Android. As you point out Google is trying to stamp out forking which is really hypocritcal given Android is basically a fork itself and it wasn't that long ago that the Linux community was complaining that Google take without giving back.

        If this is the crux of their value proposition, they are fucked. The fact of the matter is, at least 80% of mobile phone users don't even know what "openness" means, and if you can explain it to them, almost none of them will care. You can argue about open source vs. closed source, about how Android isn't really open, about flexibility, even about how open source gets patched faster on the whole.

        The vast majority of people will not care. Should they? Sure. But they don't. And they aren't going to either. How do I know this? Because this whole discussion is vaguely familiar...I remember it over a decade ago, when it was about Linux on desktops instead of Linux on smartphones. All that time has passed, and you still can't get people to buy Linux-based computers based on the openness argument.

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          If this is the crux of their value proposition, they are fucked. The fact of the matter is, at least 80% of mobile phone users don't even know what "openness" means, and if you can explain it to them, almost none of them will care. You can argue about open source vs. closed source, about how Android isn't really open, about flexibility, even about how open source gets patched faster on the whole.

          Explain it to them as configurability and they'll love it.
          I have yet to buy a phone with enough configurability to truly soften all the rough edges that interfere with usability.
          Even worse, every few years, when I get a new phone, there is a different set of rough edges not covered by the new phone's configurable options.

          • by Shoten (260439)

            If this is the crux of their value proposition, they are fucked. The fact of the matter is, at least 80% of mobile phone users don't even know what "openness" means, and if you can explain it to them, almost none of them will care. You can argue about open source vs. closed source, about how Android isn't really open, about flexibility, even about how open source gets patched faster on the whole.

            Explain it to them as configurability and they'll love it.
            I have yet to buy a phone with enough configurability to truly soften all the rough edges that interfere with usability.
            Even worse, every few years, when I get a new phone, there is a different set of rough edges not covered by the new phone's configurable options.

            No, they won't...most people are afraid of having all those settings, the choices, the options. Because the basic settings get hidden in a forest of settings that most people won't ever use. And to be honest, when you get into the "configurability" of Linux, you're not doing it in a way that is accessible to most people. So you either make it confusing for them because there are too many choices, or simplify the main interface...in which case they think you lied to them, because they don't know how to ta

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          You say that but what did Android offer over iOS? It's confusing because it looks different and can behave differently depending on who you get it from. It was incredibly buggy for the longest time, getting updates isn't consistent and it does have more malware.

          Of course openness only appeals to a small number of people but these are the people that will talk about it the most and create hype and if Ubuntu create something that provides openness while making it a more consistent and better experience tha
        • "The fact of the matter is, at least 80% of mobile phone users don't even know what "openness" means, and if you can explain it to them, almost none of them will care."

          I disagree. I have spoken to many people who decry the "walled garden" model of mobile OSes.

          "... and you still can't get people to buy Linux-based computers based on the openness argument."

          *I* use Linux based on the openness argument, so I am a living counterexample to your argument.

          I think it's about time we got a truly open Linux distro for phones. I know Samsung is working on their Tizen OS but I rather like this one.

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            I disagree. I have spoken to many people who decry the "walled garden" model of mobile OSes.

            Well the option to avoid it is there, a rooted Android device or jailbroken iPhone...so what percentage of smartphones are rooted Android devices or jailbroken iPhones? I'd say it's probably a tiny percentage.

        • Explain it to them like this: Know how there's weird shit with Motorola Androids vs Verizon Androids vs Google's Nexus One? How your old smartphone simply can't be updated, just because HTC couldn't be bothered?

          It will be better when it's more open. If you want to shell out the cash and be restricted to what a corporation things you should do with what you own, go see what Apple is pedaling. If you prefer Android over iOS, for whatever reason, this will be more so.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:58PM (#42453385)

        Google isn't stamping out forking. It's stamping out forked projects calling themselves Android, which is sensible.

        That creates confusion all over the place, because people expect shit to work, and would blame Google if their Angry Birds didn't work on their phone running Ubuntu Android.

        If HTC, Ubuntu, or even you want to add all sorts of app-breaking UI fluff on top of Android, go ahead, just don't release it as Android, and then you take the blame when shit doesn't work.

        Which is why this is called Ubuntu Mobile, or Ubunutu Phone or whatever, and not Ubuntu for Android or whatever it would have been called.

    • by Lost Race (681080)

      It says it uses the Android kernel and drivers to be compatible with the hardware, so will OEM(s) shipping devices with this OSes fall foul of Google's anti-fork rules[1] for Android?

      The Android kernel is a derivative work of the Linux kernel, so it's GPL and Google can't prevent anyone from forking it.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        The Android kernel is a derivative work of the Linux kernel, so it's GPL and Google can't prevent anyone from forking it.

        So what they do instead is they use the OHA contract to threaten OEMs (Acer is an example) and make sure they don't use forks. The closed development process means unless you are part of the OHA you can't get access to the latest version until it is shipping so you can't really compete with other manufacturers.

    • "What does it bring new to developers that isn't there in Android? Firefox OS's USP is web apps with native bindings(same as WebOS')."

      Perhaps not the developer you were thinking of but it provides Samsung an alternative for Google's Android which could have a whole gamut of implications for Google, its Motorola acquisition and its relationship with Samsung.

    • by jrumney (197329)

      It says it uses the Android kernel and drivers to be compatible with the hardware, so will OEM(s) shipping devices with this OSes fall foul of Google's anti-fork rules[1] for Android? Or does that apply only to the Android SDK/Dalvik VM?

      Google's relationship with the Free Software community is awkward as it is, without trying to encumber third party GPL2 software with extra contractual restrictions which are clearly not compliant with the GPL. Google's anti-fork rules can only apply to the Android/Dalvik

  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:33PM (#42452465) Homepage

    I hate the way iOS has gradually made it harder and harder for me to interact with the app I have open rather than the OS. Dragging from screen edge, tapping with the wrong number of fingers... All sorts of things get eaten by the OS, so I end up doing something other than interacting with the app.

    Now, in their own tragically quite imitable style, Canonical appear to have decided that the problem with the intrusion of the OS into the app's UI is that it does not go far enough.

    • by macbeth66 (204889) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:55PM (#42452707)

      At least they won't force a completely awful replacement UI just after you have gotten to like and understand the old one. For no reason.

      Oh, wait...

    • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:26PM (#42453043) Homepage

      This is probably THE most useful comment made.

      It's a fact that OS/UI developers seem to believe that the Operating System and User Interface are these most important things. They certainly don't see it the way users see it. (To be clear, most users don't identify which OS/UI is in use, they just want to run the programs they want to run.) And while we all like to have some eye candy and flexibility in the way we do things, we generally need increasingly large displays [read: pixel counts] in order to restore focus on the application and to minimize the impact on screen and usability which the OS/UI claims. This has instinctively been my biggest beef with Desktop UI developments with Linux lately. The GNOME 2 experience defaults to two tool bars, one top and one bottom. The first tweak I usually do is to add a drop-down window list to the upper-right corner and remove the lower tool bar. Yes, it's MacOS9 style, but it minimizes the space claimed by the OS/UI and let's me focus on what I'm doing.

      Now let's look at Android 2.x+. Android seeks to minimize the UI impact and it does a nice job of it. A minimal row of buttons give the user a single and simple home from which to go home, switch apps, go backward and open a context menu. Swiping from the top of the screen is a useful feature which enables the user to quickly access contols and status information. With Jellybean, we actually have two sides of the top to choose from on larger devices and it is always opposite of the button row at the bottom. Simple and effective. It is also visibly obvious.

      What Ubuntu-phone is proposing is unintuitive and seeks to infringe on how an app can live on a device. Do. Not. Want.

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:32PM (#42453115) Homepage

        I'd argue that Android doesn't go far enough.

        It is really annoying to be running an app playing some video full screen and in order to adjust the screen brightness I must:
        1. Hit home to get out of the app.
        2. Access the quick settings menu in the upper right.
        3. Adjust the brightness.
        4. Open the recently-used list to find the app and go back.

        The only reason this is necessary is because Android allows apps to run full screen and block access to the notification bar. If I'm on a 10" tablet, I don't mind having a few pixels of mostly black space set aside so that I can still have notifications. By all means make it configurable, but I want to be able to keep apps from blocking access to it.

        • by Jerry Atrick (2461566) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:55PM (#42453351)

          Meanwhile I'll be gaming on my phone and won't want to yank down the notification bar by accident.

          It's right to allow full screen as an option for apps. App writers just need to think more before using it.

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            Meanwhile I'll be gaming on my phone and won't want to yank down the notification bar by accident.

            It's right to allow full screen as an option for apps. App writers just need to think more before using it.

            I'm fine with offering the USER this option. By all means let the app writer express a preference as well. However, the end user should be able to override the app setting.

        • by EETech1 (1179269)

          Check out the app Display Brightness. It allows you to put a transparent slider on the edge of your choosing that overlays the screen and allows you to change the backlight by sliding your finger along your selected edge.

          Just be sure to uncheck apply at boot if you're gonna see how low you can set the backlight! Some phones work down to 0%, others turn off the backlight completely somewhere below 5%. Then it becomes a race between you and your device rebooting to uninstall it before it gets loaded. After t

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            Great, a hack for one use case.

            How about this one - I want to use lastpass to enter passwords in an app, using its notification bar options. Again I have to switch back and forth between apps just to get to them if the app I want to input a password in is full-screen.

            I'm sure there are a million other reasons why you might want the notification bar to be present when running an otherwise full-screen app.

        • I'd argue that Android doesn't go far enough.

          It is really annoying to be running an app playing some video full screen and in order to adjust the screen brightness I must: 1. Hit home to get out of the app. 2. Access the quick settings menu in the upper right. 3. Adjust the brightness. 4. Open the recently-used list to find the app and go back.

          The only reason this is necessary is because Android allows apps to run full screen and block access to the notification bar. If I'm on a 10" tablet, I don't mind having a few pixels of mostly black space set aside so that I can still have notifications. By all means make it configurable, but I want to be able to keep apps from blocking access to it.

          Well, I on the other hand hate to have other stuff on the screen when I'm watching
          full screen video. And notfications interrupting/overlaying/distracting from my movie?
          I'd kill them with fire. Yes, even on my 10" tablet.

          Oh, and to adjust the screen brightness while playing full screen video, I just swipe up or
          down in the left half of the screen - check out MX player on Android.

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            Brightness was just a single example - there are countless other things you can't get at because of the missing notification bar.

            But, I agree with you. Why should my non-full-screen-app be forced to show the notification bar if I don't want it? Why not just make the full-screen setting be something that is defaulted based on an app developer setting, but then be configurable in the application list (right next to the options to move it to SD storage, or clear cache, etc). Authors could give their apps re

      • by FunkyELF (609131)

        The GNOME 2 experience defaults to two tool bars, one top and one bottom. The first tweak I usually do is to add a drop-down window list to the upper-right corner and remove the lower tool bar.

        Android seeks to minimize the UI impact and it does a nice job of it. A minimal row of buttons give the user a single and simple home from which to go home, switch apps, go backward and open a context menu. Swiping from the top of the screen is a useful feature which enables the user to quickly access contols and status information.

        These are two bars in Android, much like the ones in Gnome that you tweak to consolidate.
        I find that in landscape mode on my Nexus 7 these two bars take up entirely too much real estate

      • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:58PM (#42453387) Journal

        To be clear, most users don't identify which OS/UI is in use, they just want to run the programs they want to run.

        Except for Gnome-Shell users, for which the OS actually applies itself in a natural, minimal, and very POWERFUL way. Alt+F2 brings a run dialog. Windows key (Meta) or a top-left tab brings up the Activities view which shows desktops, icons, running applications expanded out, a search menu, and the system status bar. From within the Activities view you can move windows between desktops, run new tasks, search for applications, and view and respond to waiting notifications. Also, you can log out. Outside of that, the UI is basically out of your way. I mean, there's a clock at the top of the screen, and you can bring down the system menu from the top right to log out.

        Too bad the alt+tab behavior is task-based instead of window-based. I hate composing an E-mail in thunderbird, hitting Alt+Tab, and it takes me to Chromium on another desktop instead of back to the Thunderbird main window I was just in before opening the New E-Mail window. I don't remember the last actual program I was using; I remember the last window. Fast swapping between two windows is useful. This task logic is not; it just deprecates alt-tab as a method of navigation.

      • by Bud (1705)

        > It's a fact that OS/UI developers seem to believe that [something]

        A seeming fact, then? Or an opinion?

        > we generally need increasingly large displays [read: pixel counts] in order to restore focus on the application and to minimize the impact on screen and usability which the OS/UI claims.

        Not at all. We generally need more and better modes of interacting with our phones and the apps running on them. You see, there is an upper limit to the physical size of a phone: it needs to fit into your pocket. A

    • by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:40PM (#42453219)

      I hate the way iOS has gradually made it harder and harder for me to interact with the app I have open rather than the OS. Dragging from screen edge, tapping with the wrong number of fingers... All sorts of things get eaten by the OS, so I end up doing something other than interacting with the app.

      Settings > General > Multitasking Gestures > Off. That leaves swiping from the top edge to open Notification Center. I can't think of any other interaction mechanism that iOS intercepts. Tapping with the wrong number of fingers doesn't do anything, unless perhaps you've switched on some accessibility feature by mistake?

      • by seebs (15766)

        Interesting, I hadn't seen the setting for that. Although the notification center thing bites me pretty frequently. I think it may have been the "four or five fingers" stuff, which is apparently mostly under that multitasking guestures thing. Thank you muchly! Since they used to not exist, I didn't know they had added a setting for them -- and being Apple, they have often enough offered no control over such a feature that it didn't occur to me to go looking. Still want to be able to turn notification center

    • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:48PM (#42453295)
      Exactly. I'm waiting for the day I forget to lock the screen, the phone slides around in my backpack and find I've accidentally bought a 1000 dildos through the Amazon Shopping Lens, with express shipping, or installed Windows Phone on the damn thing. :-)
    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      I hate the way iOS has gradually made it harder and harder for me to interact with the app I have open rather than the OS. Dragging from screen edge, tapping with the wrong number of fingers... All sorts of things get eaten by the OS, so I end up doing something other than interacting with the app.

      If you look carefully at the screenshots floating around, some of those screen edge toolbars are coming from the OS, but some of them are coming from the current app. Very confusing.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      So don't buy it.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      That's all merely UI stuff. It is not operating system specific. But recently it seems people mix it all together.

  • by alphax45 (675119) <kyle,alfred&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:36PM (#42452497)
    This sounds very similar to the way the current (OS 2.1) on the RIM Playbook works, not a bad thing as it works well.
  • by IANAAC (692242) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:39PM (#42452541)
    As soon as I saw the finger dragging along the left side of the screen to get to something, I thought "eh".

    I liked other elements of it, but gad, the finger dragging from top to bottom. Don't like it.

    • "A short swipe from the left edge of the screen is all it takes to reveal your favourite apps. Page either left or right from the home screen to see the content you use most. A full left-to-right swipe reveals a screen showing all your open apps, while a swipe from the right brings you instantly to the last app you were using. ... A swipe from the right edge takes you back to the last app you were using; another swipe takes you back to the app you used before that. It’s natural to keep many apps open

      • by Eythian (552130)

        Gee I can't see why you don't find this immediately intuitive and convenient. /sarcasm

        There is no such thing as intuitive here. You don't really know if it's convenient until you've tried it.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:43PM (#42452579)
    Windows 8 has been such a mind blowing success that we just have to get that swiping stuff into Ubuntu. Apparently.
    • Moron. Nokia N9, WebOS, etc. This isn't WP8, not even close. Copying? Pull your head in, son.
  • Innovators? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ArrayIndexOutOfBound (694797) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:48PM (#42452635)
    Copying other people's ideas is not necessarily a bad thing. Claiming the ideas as your own, without crediting the sources is So, how about crediting the ideas to the right people [nokia.com]?
  • by sticks_us (150624) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:57PM (#42452721) Homepage

    But I'm seeing two benefits:

    1) If Canonical can get traction with the OEMs, maybe there will be more diversity in the type of hardware available. Might open up the "mobile OS hacking" subculture even further, allowing people to come up with novel, mobile GNU/Linux distributions.

    2) Allowing devs to write/ship mobile applications in something other than ObjC (iOS) and Java (Android). I don't think it's possible or viable today, for example, to write a full Python mobile application and ship it. Sure, there are some pet projects out there that will, with some effort, let you kindasorta run things like Perl or Python on Android, but anything other than ObjC/Java are second-class citizens, currently.

    Perhaps having Ubuntu begin to carve out even a little space here might help open the market a bit to more interesting and useful approaches to mobile operating systems?

    • The second one could be important. It could gain traction in businesses that use in-house apps.

  • Like Nokia N9 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lalleglad (39849) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:06PM (#42452801)

    It looks in many ways like what I have on my Nokia N9 with MeeGo Harmattan. The Linux for mobiles that was doomed before it was finished.

    The swipe functionality is really great and one reason I still love it, even though it does have its own set of problems, which is mostly because it didn't get the time to mature. When I for example sometimes have to for many seconds and up to minutes before something happens, doesn't make me a happy camper.

    Another good part is the keyboard designs, which is very clear with the Japanese keyboard on the N9. Pres one key and swiping up, down, left or right gives you other options. Thereby you can have larger initial buttons, but with several options popping up, and when you learn the keyboard it is really fast for such a small screen/keyboard.

    Again, the swipe functionality is a great way to interact with a touch screen device, and is a step in the right direction from just having pinch-to-zoom.

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      It's got more than that. The Ubuntu phone SDK is QML, so the two phones share way more than a love of swipes.

      I am a N9 owner and I love it, despite the rough edges, The Swipe based interface is a joy. I still use iOS and Android devices, and they feel clunky in comparison.

      I'm really excited to see where Ubuntu takes this.

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        I'm really excited to see where Ubuntu takes this.

        In the ground? Are you interested in Moles?

  • ... I thought that "Ubuntu Phone OS Unveiled" on /. ... leading to

    "Ubuntu Now Fits on Your Phone"

    ... meant that I was going to encounter an actual operating system or some evidence that someone, somewhere, has this working. And by "working," I don't mean has an artist's mockup set up on a demo.
  • It's amusing to me that some people seem to be taking this seriously. There's a good chance that it'll never ship, IMO, but even if it does, hardly anybody will use it. What an amazing waste of time and resources.
    • That's kind of a sad attitude.

      First, I would imagine that quite a few readers of slashdot would use it, meaning it's actually interesting for people here. Second, there's this whole attitude that because my Mom would never buy such a thing, no one should bother with it.

      Second, to drag out the dreaded car analogy, there are lots of different cars out there. Because the Toyota Camry is the most popular car in the US, everybody else should just stop making cars.

      Will Ubuntu Phone become the #1 phone OS in the

  • The website shows what I assume are mockups of Ubuntu's mobile OS running on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I do hope they'll release some images, I'd reflash my Galaxy Nexus and take Ubuntu Mobile for a spin if I could.

  • windows 8 (Score:5, Informative)

    by dirtyhippie (259852) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:27PM (#42453049) Homepage

    In the video, shuttleworth goes on about how ubuntu is this revolutionary way to have the same software on your phone and desktop. Umm, did he miss the memo about windows 8? I mean I know Windows 8 sucks and all, but ignoring the big gorilla in the room just makes him seem out of touch.

    • Re:windows 8 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gordonjcp (186804) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:53PM (#42453335) Homepage

      Windows 8 won't have the same apps on your phone as on your desktop. It'll have whatever apps software companies decide to port across to Windows 8 for ARM. It's just like Windows CE in that respect, so you'll end up with cut-down "Express" versions of a few of Microsoft's own programs, a few custom-written things for parcel delivery van drivers, and 200 different Sudoku games with varying amounts of malware.

      At least with Linux you stand some chance of being able to port apps to a mobile platform, because the source is available.

    • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:55PM (#42453347)

      In the video, Shuttleworth goes on about how Ubuntu is this revolutionary way to have the same software on your phone and desktop. Umm, did he miss the memo about windows 8? I mean I know Windows 8 sucks and all, but ignoring the big gorilla in the room just makes him seem out of touch.

      You have to do a full left-to-right swipe on Mark to get him to see all the active operating systems.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXWnMTm7We8 [youtube.com]

    Pretty laggy, but it's still in alpha...
    For the rest, I didn't see any feature that would make me switch from Android, but I wait to see it on actual phones before judging.

  • This looks a lot like what the guys at Jolla are doing, which is based of the N9/MeeGo.
    WebOS algo had a bit of this as well, although only on one edge.

    Looks like it took a couple of years before everyone started becoming interested in edge-swiping, but this isn't new at all. I've been using compiz with move-mouse-to-corner-X-to-do-Y for plenty of years, yet people still prefer using using a taskbar instead of proper window switching.

  • When Shuttleworth grows his beard and tries too hard to sell something, I thought I recognized someone:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOmvdeNa67E [youtube.com]

    Must be his half brother ...

  • by Lucky75 (1265142)

    So...they copied BB10?

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @03:09PM (#42453483)
    Looking at their approach here something occurs to me: the ui is almost self-consciously different from iOS. The layout of Android's ui has many parallels with iOS and partly for this reason Android phone makers are haunted by the ghost of Steve Jobs' lawyers. Of course, many of those elements are perfectly obvious to any ui designer working when smart phones were taking off (e.g. let's put icons in a grid pattern). Looking at this Ubuntu phone ui, especially some of the stranger elements of it, I can't help but wonder whether the design is different for the sake of being different, i.e. different for the sake of being competitive in a world where superficial resemblance can have a product banned from import. Were I a smartphone manufacturer, knowing all Samsung et al. have gone through with Android, an OS which had a very different ui (with, et al., no slide to unlock, a different approach to gestures, and no home button requirement) might be worth careful consideration for those reasons alone.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      Ah, but putting icons on a grid has been a design pattern of the desktop for ages and ages. No, it's putting icons with rounded corners on a grid that's completely new and innovative. The average user was cutting himself on those sharp corners of old. And everybody wonders why nobody likes Windows 8.

  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @03:14PM (#42453551)

    If the answer is "no" to both these questions then this whole concept is going to fail.

    I have an android phone - I can install chroot ubuntu but no GPU support means it's limited.

    If the source code is open source it means we can install it on existing devices or ideally run in parallel with ICS or Jellybean.

    If they only going to release the Ubuntu Phone OS with hardware (e.g. "..9 to 12 months time..") then this will go the same way as WebOS.

    They are going to build some kind of traction with the community first.

  • ...It is just one tab over from "Ubuntu for phones"
    They're talking about being open, yet they haven't released "Ubuntu for phones" in any product or any source.

    Ubuntu for phones would be great 5 years ago, but there are already too many Android apps / games out there the people will want.

    I don't want Ubuntu for phones, I want it for Android like they advertised a year ago.

    Perhaps these two ideas will merge at some point. People will want to run Android applications.

    • Agreed. Android for phones and tablets is mature. Ubuntu for desktops is mature. Windows 8 suggests it's hard to produce a friendly 100% unified OS that uses a common UI across these entirely different form factors. Ubuntu and Android running over a common kernel sharing a common file system would, on the other hand, be awesome.
  • Listen, people do not need another minimal operating system; they need one reasonable operating system to perform work on. If Unity was everything you touted, why make yet another OS?

  • With the Hitchhiker's Guide mark II in Douglas Adams' fiction he tried to show us the way of the light -- The "best" user interface in this or any Universe.

    "And can you hear me when I say this?" it said, this time in a sepulchrally deep voice.
    "Yes!"
    There was then a pause.
    "No, obviously not," said the bird after a few seconds. [...] Now. How many of me can you see?
    Suddenly the air was full of nothing but interlocking birds. [...] It was if the whole geometry of space was redefined in seamless bird shapes.
    [The user] grasped and flung her arms around her face, her arms moving through bird bird-shaped space.
    "Hmm, obviously way too many," said the bird. "How about now?"
    It concertinaed into a tunnel of birds, as if it was a bird caught between parallel mirrors, reflecting infinitely into the distance.
    "Well you're sort of . . .", [She] gestured helplessly off into the distance.
    "I see, still infinite in extent, but at least we're homing in on the right dimensional matrix. Good, No, the answer is an orange and two lemons.
    "Lemons?"
    "If I have three lemons and three oranges and I lose two oranges and a lemon, what do I have left?"
    "Huh?"
    "Okay, so you think time flows that way, do you? Interesting."

    And on CLIs Adams has this to say:

    Don't imagine you know what a computer terminal is. A computer terminal is not some clunky old television with a type writer in front of it. It is an interface where the mind and body can connect with the universe and move bits of it about.

    Don't you see? The "OS" of the HGv2 came with no assumptions whatsoever of the way you would perceive to use it. After a brief initialization period it had collected the temporal ordering, number of perceivable dimensions, mater vs antimatter (read: left or right handed 3D coordinate system), mode of communication, etc. CLIs remained as an important fall back, despite advances in UI.

    The problem with today's UI design is ignoring that everyone is different and assuming that anyone truly knows anyone else, or especially the gestures they'll want to make. Sure, humans have some physical limitations which dictate certain UIs: Keyboard and Screen being a prime example of optimal textual IO; However, when it comes to symbolism and gestures this is the realm in which the humans are most differentiated, it is what defines them. Being primarily symbol interpretors themselves capable of imbuing deep meaning to the simplest of glyphs or gestures, the humans are so varied in terms of gesturing and symbolism that any non-prescient design is a restriction placed upon the very essence of a human. For example: If I make a full left to right gesture on this phone UI it will show me all the open apps. If I make the approximate same gesture with a finger (my thumb) across my neck it means "Kill 'em dead", such disparities are inevitable. Scratching ones head would have been a much better gesture to trigger display of all open apps...

    Sane defaults that are Customizable is the only acceptable UI solution.

    To the UI designers of the world, especially to those of Apple, Microsoft, Gnome and Ubuntu I suggest you fully read all of Mr. Adam's works, especially Mostly Harmless. Thereafter you may be able to extract the true meaning of this one simple gesture I wish to convey to you:
    Only the 3rd digit on both hands fully extended, both hands extended in your general direction, and shaking with intensity.

    ...Interestingly, this is also the common undercurrent of symbolism I receive via the use of the designs made by today's UI designers; It is also frequently the response to any suggestion to improve their UI. Now that we have this foundation of understanding between us, you're fully equipped to understand your future sales numbers.

  • Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

    by MrBippers (1091791) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @04:39PM (#42454537)
    2013, year of the Linux deskt..... wait, what?
  • I see two possible future for Ubuntu mobile using Android kernel:

    1) Google is happy with this and allow manufacturers to release Ubuntu phones on same hardware released for Android phones. While this can look a bit odd for Google at first, this is not necessary bad for them. To be pragmatic, no OS will ever gain a total monopoly. So it's better to live with a friendly alternative to push higher pressure on the unfriendly alternatives. I suspect that a such move - to be friendly - will be extremely positive

    • by adri (173121)

      3) If it's successful, google, microsoft and apple will want to be paid per handset for any shipping ubuntu, firefox or webos shipping phones.

      Competition is great. Especially when you get paid for it.

  • This seems to have gotten buried in the press release, but Canonical has already done some demos in this regard. Basically, when you get into the office you dock your quad-core cell phone and get a full Ubuntu desktop.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzc0uMXGFBY [youtube.com]

    They have been shopping this with their Ubuntu for Android solution, but a full mobile OS might enable them to get a "superphone" to market faster. Too bad it's >1 year out...

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane

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