Ubuntu has arrived on mobile phones, offering an alternative and light OS for smartphones everywhere. The announcement by parent company Canonical makes phones the third device type on which the user-friendly, Linux-based operating system now appears. What's more, unlike Google's ecosystem, it's the same full version of Ubuntu on your phone as it is on your TV or PC.
The Ubuntu phone UI is aimed to be far more simple and complete than the likes of Android which Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical CEO, rebuked as “overkill” in terms of complexity “especially if trying to move normal phones users to become smartphone users”.
The lockscreen is more than just a barrier to the rest of the OS. You can unlock to any app you like, and navigation is reminiscent of the frame drags used in Windows 8's Modern UI and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. There are contextual menus, universal search, an already healthy app store and the possibility to dock your Ubuntu phone into a keyboard, mouse and monitor set up to use it as a desktop computer as Canonical demonstrated at MWC 2012.
Ubuntu will be coming to mobile phones this year. You'll be able to buy them first of all as Ubuntu for Android phones which have an Android face while out and about, but serve up Ubuntu when docked for desktop use. By the end of the year, there will also be the straight Ubuntu phone experience from as yet undisclosed OEMs. The better news is that users will also be able to put Ubuntu on their own mobile phones themselves with an image available for Nexus phones in the coming weeks.
“One brain, one heart, one platform – all of those places feeling coherent,” is the mission statement from Shuttleworth, and the Ubuntu phone so far looks like it might just deliver.