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Ubuntu Cellphones Operating Systems

Ubuntu Phone OS Unveiled 248

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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  • Innovators? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ArrayIndexOutOfBound ( 694797 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:48PM (#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 []?
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:56PM (#42452715) Homepage

    I used to do something like that to get decent functionality out of the SMS app on the iPhone.

    That nonsense is why I defected to Android.

  • Re:Unity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bregmata ( 1749266 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @03:05PM (#42452785)

    Canonical is dedicated to fixing problems in Unity to the point of having a dedicated team doing just that. Turns out, though, that making Unity work like a clone of Microsoft's Windows XP is just not in the cards, no matter how much Gnome2 used to try. Sorry.

  • Like Nokia N9 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lalleglad ( 39849 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @03:06PM (#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 Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @03:32PM (#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 @03:55PM (#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 cervesaebraciator ( 2352888 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @04:09PM (#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 erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @04:21PM (#42453631) Homepage

    The way I see it, it will come down to Android in favor of iOS unless Apple loosens up the control a bit.

    Lately, I have observed many mobile phone users dumping their iPhones for Androids simply because they are able to do more of what they want and that the cost in terms of access to applications lost is between "0" and "negligible." What I mean by that is initially, the quality of iPhone apps was far greater than the quality of Android apps and that the frequency of exclusively iPhone apps was fairly high. This is changing. What's more, people are more enabled with Android than they are with iPhone. There are fewer limits, for example, on what a user can do with his Bluetooth interface under Android than under iOS. There are fewer limits on external display technologies and more as well.

    Apple would choose to limit the release of each new idea so that it can be a "killer feature" of the next version of the iDevice. Other makers of great ideas aren't willing to wait for Apple to do it first and so they are heading straight for Android to implement. And the proof is everywhere. For example, before I even thought about it, car stereo makers are using Android to create car computers which do everything their phones and tablets do but in a car-context meaning they can integrate with OBD2, Bluetooth devices, controls on steering wheels, heads-up displays and more.

    Innovators aren't willing to wait for Apple. And since Apple fans and Apple both agree all "real innovation" begins and ends with Apple, they will go the way they went in the personal and business computer market. The word is "niche."

    And what happens when it's all Linux? Well, we will see a lot of cross-platform compatibility where apps will work with the intended OS/UI but also, compatibility layers, libraries and the like will also emerge. The most unobtrusive OS/UI will win out over those which impose their idea of how things should work on the user because that will have a rather direct impact on emulated/simulated compatibility with apps meant for other OS/UIs.

    I'll just sit back and wait for blowback from Apple fans now. If you are an Apple fan, please don't quote to me who is the leader in the past or present. Don't tell me about who is the most profitable company in the history of the planet earth (though I think the east india trading company might actually have been better in its prime) Speak to me of what matters to people who are presently dumping iDevices in favor of others. I have to say, I have never heard of anyone dumping Android in favor of iDevice though I am sure it may have happened in the past, but certainly not recently.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972