Canonical, the people behind Ubuntu, have finally lifted the lid off of Ubuntu for phones. Set to release in late 2013, heading into Europe first, Ubuntu for phones is a lofty goal, but with Canonical be able to pull it off in a crowded mobile phone market?
Ubuntu has made great headway in the last few years. Millions of people use the OS on their desktops and laptops, and Ubuntu is considered one of the more user-friendly Linux distributions. Totally free and open, Ubuntu has positioned itself in a great position of being easy to use, easy to access with the added benefit of being extremely stable. These factors have built the OS’s reputation over the years to a point where most people have at least heard of it, if not used it. Major computer companies are even offering computers for sale with Ubuntu installed already.
Now Canonical shows off what they’ve been working on with Ubuntu for phones in a video nearly 22 minutes long in total. We’ve included the section of the video that focuses just on the phone, however. It’s clear that Canonical has done a lot of thinking and planning for Ubuntu for phones, and truth be told, it really shows in the design and interface. Canonical is planning on releasing two broad categories of phone, that of a low-end model (with a corresponding pricing structure) that it claims will still outperform other phones in this category, citing a “sharper, more responsive and easier to use” phone than is currently available. Ubuntu for phones will also be released on high-end smartphones, which Canonical states it’s creating a “super phone” category, that can become a full PC when docked with a keyboard and monitor.
Despite Ubuntu’s relative ease of use compared to other Linux based operating systems, Ubuntu is still not a name that the average citizen thinks of when he or she considers a PC, and certainly not when thinking of new phones. While it’s probably true that you could sit someone down in front of a Ubuntu PC and they could figure out how to use it within a few minutes, there is still a level of complexity that a Linux based operating system brings to bear, and the average user may not understand why they can’t do certain things on Ubuntu. Ubuntu for phones may run into a similar learning curve problem, and while the interface and gesture commands look great, they’re not immediately obvious. The reason the iPhone is able to ship without much of an instruction manual is the ease of use of its arguably outdated OS. Ubuntu for phones has innovative and handy swipe commands for each side of the screen, but is the average person going to understand that? Or will it just create frustration in the end? There’s no telling until they get into the hands of the people, but if there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that Ubuntu for phones is offering something new and exciting, and even if it doesn’t take off, maybe it’ll push the mobile phone market in better directions.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments below and if you’d be at all interested in Ubuntu for phones.