It was only back at the end of October 2011 that Canonical's founder, Mark Shuttleworth, outlined his plans to stretch the Ubuntu ecosystem out beyond just computers and onto screens everywhere. We've already seen this in action on mobile phones with the Ubuntu One apps but at, CES 2012, the company has announced possibly its boldest step of all - Ubuntu TV.
Learning from the mistakes of Google, Canonical is ditching the idea of any kind of browser at all maintaining that free searching the web has got nothing to do with a "10 feet back experience". Instead, it's all about a content access experience with Ubuntu One the system behind it to make it work. Indeed, whether you're accessing via a web browser, a desktop app, a smartphone app and now a TV platform, it's your cloud-stored files, photos, music, videos and films that you'll be streaming.
For the purposes of Ubuntu TV, you'll get a little more thrown in too through a TV tuner and apps as well. There's nothing specific designed just yet but then the demo of Ubuntu TV in Vegas this year is just that - a demo. One of the reasons Canonical is here is to strike the deals with the content providers on the video side as well as convince the device manufactures that it's a platform worth building in to TVs and boxes the world over. Music access it already has covered with the Ubuntu One Music system.
Regardless of who the videos belong too though, there is still just one universal search to find it all and, in order to help cut down on text entry time, Ubuntu TV also has the capacity to learn your viewing habits and behaviours to predict what it is that you'll be looking for. In fact, although nothing has been finalised, Canonical want to steer clear of any kind of on-screen keyboard or hard version on a remote control at all. Neither gesture nor voice control are popular either. Think more along the lines of apps to convert your tablets and smartphones into remotes and second screens instead.
The added advantage of that, as explained by Canonical, is the idea of individual profiles. If your Ubuntu TV is controlled by an app on your mobile phone, then it can sign in using your Ubuntu One credentials, rather than anyone else's, with the system then able to provide suggestions and programming tailor made just for you and not a mixture of everyone who happens to live in your household.
Naturally, there's still some distance to go in terms of the search for the manufactures and content providers as well as a few final decisions in the development of the platform as well. There also needs to be a process of education of the Ubuntu app-making community on how and what to write for TV. From what we've seen though, there's a lot to get excited about here. It's a crowded market but Ubuntu does have the advantage of a burgeoning, well-designed and free ecosystem in the shape of Ubuntu One to back it up. It's yet another step in proving that Ubuntu isn't just for people on Linux. We look forward to seeing where this one goes.