Canonical's curious-looking countdown we woke up from our New Year's hangover from, wound down, revealing Ubuntu for Phones, a spanking new mobile operating system built from the same ground up as Android, but with a user interface that combines the best of nearly every other competitor, including Windows Phone, iOS, and Android. Each of the three clicked well with a certain aspect of their UIs, while falling short in other areas, and Ubuntu for Phones could be gunning for a potent combination. Nevertheless, the UI doesn't look blatantly ripped off, but gorgeous.
Ubuntu for Phones, according to its backers, brings five star features to the table, in Canonical's words:
- Edge magic - thumb gestures from all four edges of the screen enable users to find content and switch between apps faster than other phones.
- Deep content immersion - controls appear only when the user wants them.
- A beautiful global search for apps, content and products.
- Voice and text commands in any application for faster access to rich capabilities.
- Both native and web or HTML5 apps.
- Evolving personalized art on the welcome screen.
- When docked, the phone offers a full-fledged PC desktop environment on a connected HDTV or monitor
"We expect Ubuntu to be popular in the enterprise market, enabling customers to provision a single secure device for all PC, thin client and phone functions. Ubuntu is already the most widely used Linux enterprise desktop, with customers in a wide range of sectors focused on security, cost and manageability," said Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical. "We also see an opportunity in basic smartphones that are used for the phone, SMS, web and email, where Ubuntu outperforms thanks to its native core apps and stylish presentation."
Canonical hopes to grab a slice of the mobile OS pie by offering a greater degree of vendor customization than even hot favorite Android, which definitely beats Windows Phone and iOS in that department. "We are defining a new era of convergence in technology, with one unified operating system that underpins cloud computing, data centers, PCs and consumer electronics," said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and VP Products at Canonical.
Ubuntu for Phones is based on ARM Linux, and might not feature all the dependencies needed to run Android apps. For now the OS has its own content and software store, with free apps to cover most common web-based tasks. Canonical looked back into 2012, and detailed its 2013 plans, including Ubuntu for Phones, in its YouTube-streamed keynote:
Ubuntu for Phones will be showcased at the 2013 International CES.