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Video CES: Jono Bacon Talks Up Ubuntu for Phones (Video) 93

One of the more interesting conversations Tim Lord had at CES this year was with Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon, who was showing off the Ubuntu Phone that is supposed to be released later this year. According to the Ubuntu website, it "delivers a magical phone that is faster to run, faster to use and fits perfectly into the Ubuntu family." Big words, but if Ubuntu parent Canonical can live up to them, the mobile phone market may soon have an interesting new operating system competitor to shake things up.

Transcript covers both videos

Tim Lord: What’s up with Ubuntu this year?

Jono Bacon: There is a lot going on. You know, a lot of people associate Ubuntu as running on the desktop, or on the server as well, but Ubuntu is actually part of this wider convergence plan that we have been focusing on, which is we started to have Ubuntu on the desktop, and then we took Ubuntu to the cloud. And Ubuntu, is arguably the most popular Linux desktop. It is definitely the most popular operating system in the cloud and then we went to devices where Ubuntu had come out on TV, Ubuntu for Android where you can take a phone, an Android phone, and you can dock it, and then it boots a full Ubuntu desktop. And then most recently, of course, we are showing off the Ubuntu phone.

Tim: People are curious about the phone. Can you give us a little hint of what it can do?

Jono: Yes, it is interesting. We did a lot of user research before we started building the phone around people’s attitudes, and views on current handsets, iPhone and Android. We found a few commonalities there. First of all, they don’t feel like particularly personal experiences. If you look at, for example, an Android phone or an iPhone, if you want music you have to access your music via a music application. It is the same thing with video, by a video application. When you go into communication, you go to a different part of the phone for your email, for your Facebook, for your Google Plus, your Twitter, all that kind of stuff. So you spend a lot of your time juggling between these different applications.

And we wanted to integrate your content that you care about, and the contacts that you care about, really into the core of the phone itself. The other thing which we spent some time on in Ubuntu 12.10 was blurring the line between the web and your device, your desktop or your phone, as an example. We found that people use a mixture of various apps on Linux such as RhythmBox or whatever else; and then applications on the web where your web applications are trapped inside your browser tabs. So we are going to break that connection. So an example is if you are using Google calendar, I don’t want to go to a tab to see my Google calendar, I want to integrate my calendar on my desktop, on my phone... So we’ve really tried to focus on that, that line between the web and your native system as well as integrating the content that you care about really into the heart of everything that we do.

Jono: Now talking more about the phone itself, what are the odds that it is going to be here at the next CES? Are we going to see it as a hardware device available in the next few months?

Jono: We are pretty confident. It has been pretty amazing, the response that we’ve had to it. I mean, obviously, we have been working on this for a while, and we announced it on the 2nd of January and the primary reason we are here at CES is to talk to operators and handset manufacturers who want to ship it on the products. But we’ve been assessing the success of the phone in lots of different ways, which is there have been a phenomenal amount of press interest in it. We have been at CES now since Tuesday, it’s Thursday lunch time, and it has just been a constant stream of people from the industry coming along, constant stream of press.

What was interesting as well was, we reached out to the community, the Ubuntu community and said, look we want you to be part of building this phone, so if you are Q developer, if you are a QML developer, and you are interested, fill in this form and we will get in touch with you about what working on these core apps. We had 500 people filling up forms in the first day. And we have had nearly 1300 people fill in so far. So there is a huge amount of community interest. I have been at Canonical now for six and a half years. I have never seen a product announcement that we have done have this level of interest. So I am really excited about it.

Tim: A lot of people sort of object that in the cell phone world, you’ve got Apple, the 100-pound gorilla, no, the 1000-pound gorilla, and you have got Android which is you know, the beast with the thousand tentacles, so where does a phone with an operating system that is not from one of those two camps, where does that fit into in the world?

Jono: Yeah, we’ve had a few people obviously say, it is a two-horse race. How can you even begin to compete in that race? And if you look at the industry, every three to five years, it turns around, three to five years ago it was Blackberry, and it was Palm, Nokia. Things are obviously are very different right now.

The other thing that we’ve noticed is that people don’t love their Android phones. I mean you have a phone, and you use it, I mean I’ve got one, I’ve got a Galaxy 2, it is nice; it is a nice piece of hardware, it is a nice phone, it is alright, I don’t love it, I use it as a phone, and I use it to do my stuff but I don’t love the experience in it. And I think there are a lot of people out there who love the design and the experience of Apple products, but they don’t want to get locked into the Apple jail, so they use Android because they like the openness of it.

Now we just feel like there is a great opportunity to switch that up with something that is at least as beautiful as an iPhone if not more beautiful and more open than Android. Ubuntu is the only operating system that you can influence in that regard. You can’t really influence Android very easily. You can influence Ubuntu, you can come and join our community, you can be part of the development process. And of course we just have this wider convergence as well, Ubuntu on the desktop, the TV, the phone.

Tim: What about the GUI that we are seeing on Ubuntu? How much of it are you able to preserve across these convergent product lines? Can you have, you know is it still Unity that is on the phone?

Jono: Yeah, I mean, it is all basically in the same codebase, so when we ship an Ubuntu product, whether it is on the desktop or whether it is on the TV or whatever, you’ve really got two layers, you’ve got the foundation layers, the kernel, the display manager, all of that kind of stuff and then you have got the upper layer, which is the UI and then the apps that run on the UI. We have a long history of obviously working on this for the laptops. We ship Ubuntu, we have got relationships with all the major laptop manufacturers, HP, Dell, all of those guys. So things are a little different obviously on the foundation layer for a phone. You have to have a different kernel, it is a different hardware _____06:03, you’ve got to take care of, it’s the same thing with TVs. With the UI layer, the same basic framework, and then it just obviously optimizes for the screen that you are running on.

Tim: And the actual world of cell phones, has it converged enough that it is an easy process to port as long it has got the minimum specs that you are looking for?

Jono: To put what, sorry?

Tim: To put Ubuntu on a phone, as long as it has the minimum specs you need?

Jono: Oh, yeah. So right now as an example, we are running – we are actually using the Android kernel, because when we are talking to handset operators, we want to lower the bar as much as we can. An Android kernel, most of the hardware enablements are being done already, so you can say, we have Android kernel, we run Ubuntu phone on top of it, and it will work on basically any phone that could run Android.

Tim: Do you want to swap out eventually and have an Ubuntu kernel as well?

Jono: Yeah, that is something we could have a conversation with a handset operator, a handset manufacturer about it. If they say we don’t want to use Android kernel, we want to build a custom roll-your-own kernel for this specific device. We have been doing Linux now for quite a while, so we could definitely do that too.

Tim: Can we see a little bit about what the phone can do?

Jono: Yeah. Sure. One of the goals that we have here was to build an OS that doesn’t depend on any hardware buttons. Most handset manufacturers want to have a low bill of materials, and the buttons get in the way. You basically want a phone where the screen takes up pretty much the entire space. So there is no buttons on this. This is using a Galaxy Nexus as the reference platform right now. We also wanted to build something that is deeply personal that integrates your content throughout the phone experience.

So if I switch it on, it is personal from the get-go. If you see this thing, it is called the Welcome Screen. And the Welcome Screen is a personal reflection of you and what you are doing. So it shows you how many tweets you have received, how many unread messages you might have, any calls you might have missed, that kind of stuff. And this representation here, this artist representation, varies as well between phones and users. So it is sole design touches like that that we feel makes it a desirable experience for people.

Jono: And so the other thing in trying to build an UI that doesn’t depend on the hardware buttons. What we’ve did is we’ve optimized and hot rodded each of the edges of the phone to do different things. So for example, I can slide up on the left and we are seeing a launcher. This will look very familiar to Ubuntu desktop users. You know this has got the common applications that you might want to use, your favorite applications basically live here. So what we can do is: Well, is if I slide out, we have this Ubuntu button on the bottom, if we tap that, we then see our home screen.

Now Ubuntu desktop users, this is basically kind of how the Dash works and the different lenses that live inside the Dash. So the home view here provides an aggregation of the different types of content that are available on your phone. Most of us own videos and music and applications and then obviously have our social media connections and our phone connections and whatever else. So we can flip through our favorite user apps, missed calls, new film releases; as an example, the film releases is based upon your viewing habits. If you like comedy, then you can see a lot of comedy recommended here; and music as well.

Interesting as well, is that we connect Ubuntu One which is your personal cloud into all of these Ubuntu devices. So if you buy an album on your phone, then it will be internally synced to all of the other devices by the Ubuntu One. That’s the plan.

Tim: It sounds like there is some AI there along the lines of Netflix or other recommendation engines?

Jono: Yeah, exactly.

Tim: Is that all homegrown by Ubuntu?

Jono: Yeah. So this provides a nice overview of your content, but then you typically want to delve into the specific content types, in much the same way that the Dash works on the desktop. So if I slide right, I can look at my apps, I can see my frequently used applications, less frequently used apps that are installed, as well as apps available for download. And this also works like the Dash in the sense of you know, I have got the search box up here, if I do a search in there for Angry Birds, it will update this view based upon my search terms.

So for example, if I have got Angry Birds installed on my phone, I can just tap it and I am good to go. You don’t even have to use a software center in that regard. We will ship a software center, but it is mainly going to be for browsing or ratings and reviews and that kind of stuff. So we have got apps here, we have got videos, you can see obviously videos on the phone itself, as well as videos that you have bought in the cloud or videos that you have saved into the cloud. We got people, we have got music.

Now one of the goals that we set out with this as well, was to really blur this line between the web and the device. I mentioned earlier on about being trapped inside your browser tabs. A good example of this is in the people’s view here. This is kind of like an address book. It shows people you are in contact with. The red and the green little dots, that shows when they are online or whether they are available right now on their instant messenger or social networks. If I tap one of these, I can see this person _____11:16, I can see their most recent Facebook status, I can see their contact details.

Now what I could do, if the internet wasn’t down right now, is I could tap his Facebook status there and it will take me to the Facebook mobile site. So it is really easy for me to instantly reply to messages that are on my phone.

You can write applications for the Ubuntu phone in either HTML5 using QML, this is part of the QT tool kit, we have full OpenGL support. So if I load a native app, we will load the Gallery. So the Gallery is basically a big list of your pictures and your videos, broken in a day by day basis. And it is really slick, simple, and organic kind of interface.

One of the things we did back when we first introduced Unity was to really optimize as much screen estate as possible. We won’t need to focus on the content. We worked hard to get rid of all the chrome that typically clutters up operating systems, that’s even more important on a phone when you have got a much smaller screen. So when we are looking at this app, we just got the day by day breakdown, we can slide it around.

So, for example, if I load this, I talked earlier on about how the left edge is used for your commonly used applications. Well, the bottom edge used here, this is for functionality inside that app. So if I slide up here, I can now see for example, controls, I can see controls for the Gallery application itself.

Now one of the goals that we also set out to achieve here was to make configuring your phone as easy as possible. We did some user research into common use cases across iPhone and Android and configuring your phone was seen as a pretty disruptive journey. Because what happens is you are looking at an application like your Gallery here. If you want to configure your phone, you have to get out of your app, you have to look at your big list of apps, you have to go to settings, you have to go choose a category, hopefully you picked the right category, you configure it, you picked the wrong category, you have to pick up another one, and then you have to get back to your application.

We found that most people who were using a phone want to configure fairly common areas, such as which wireless network am I on, whether I am using Bluetooth or not, which device is used, change my date and time, my power settings, that kind of stuff. All the other settings can live in a separate settings thing. These are the common things that people want to use.

So this is what the top edge of the screen is for. You can see these indicators along the top just like in the Ubuntu desktop. We can slide left and right or you can select between them, so for example, like the date and time, we can configure that, or we could go to Our Networks. Let’s say, Our Networks is an example.

And then on the far left, we have got our Messaging Menu, and this again is something that we have on Ubuntu desktop. This pulls together all of your different messaging networks into one place. Because we found, at the end of the day, you are talking to people, whether it is on Facebook or Google Plus or Twitter or phone or SMS, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you see the content and you respond to it. So this pulls it all together into one view, and then I can tap one of these entries and I can respond right there. So it provides a real quick access to them.

So in a nutshell so far, the left side of the screen is obviously for your frequently used applications, the bottom part of the screen, the bottom edge is for controls and applications, the top edge is for configuring your phone as well as getting to your messages. And then the right edge we devoted to multitasking. We found that multitasking doesn’t work particularly efficiently on most of the current phones. It’s a bit clunky. Most people tend to use like three to six applications and have them in regular rotation. So this is what the right edge is for.

I just want to make sure that I have got another app open to demo this. Just make sure that it is going to load the camera, so this is obviously the camera app running. I can just slide from the right edge and it takes me back to my Gallery application. It is really quick, simple, and sleek, just to move between your different apps, and then if you want to get back to the home screen, just one big swipe, and then we are there. That is pretty much how it works.

Tim: Jono, if somebody already has an Android phone, one that’s capable of running this OS, can they download and install it?

Jono: So we are going to be releasing images in the next few months for the Galaxy Nexus that has been our reference phone that we have been using. And you will be able to take the images, you will be able to install them in your phone, you will be able to play with them. It is unlikely that we are going to release a general purpose distribution of the phone, for a few reasons. One is that most people don’t tend to install operating systems on their phones. Secondly, the hardware specifics around a phone OS are very very specific. There are different radios and that kind of stuff.

So it’s a bad use of our resources to work directly with the handset manufacturers to make it work on their hardware; however, obviously all of this is going to be open source. So you will be able to get the Ubuntu phone OS, open source, so if you want to take and you want to build your platform, then obviously you can do that, your own phone you can do that

Tim: It is great to see things like XDA developers too that are developing. They are also taking the Android kernel and doing interesting things with it.

Jono: Yeah. I mean, I think there is a great opportunity. There are not many open source companies in this space, and Ubuntu has got a long heritage of this, we are a very open community, we have been openly governed since the beginning, and we have got a passionate developer base and I think that there is a great opportunity for us to do this. And I think the convergence is the key, it’s the idea that I love my Ubuntu phone, I would like to get an Ubuntu TV and everything connects me together and everything is open in the way that works.

Tim: Now part of the convergence you are talking about is based around the interface called Unity and you also talked about your passionate users, you have a lot of passionate detractors on that front. Does it influence the company that a lot of people have complained publicly about not liking Unity, does it change the direction that it has been developed?

Jono: Yeah, it does, I mean it is one of those situations where you do your best to try and build a product that people like, that people are going to use, a project that is open and all the rest of it, and then there are going to be some people who are not going to like that. Everyone has got their own approach of how they handle that feedback. I think the way I handle it and the way, I think, Mark Shuttleworth does and Rick Spencer, he is my boss, the director of Ubuntu Engineering.

The way we tend to approach this is, when people have constructive facts orientated feedbacks that they say, you made this decision, not really happy about this for these reasons, these are things I would recommend to fix this decision, that kind of feedback is fantastic, and that really influences everybody.

Tim: I think that seems to have made a big change also with the Amazon shopping lines, that there has been somewhat of a pushback.

Jono: Exactly. And we are seeing some folks who have come forward and given us really prescribed feedback about, you know we are not happy about this, and that is great feedback to have. People who just vent and complain on Slashdot or on various other websites, if it is just unfettered emotional whining, I don’t really pay attention to that. I mean I pay attention to the general pulse of the community obviously, but what we are really interested in doing is having a conversation, not just listening to someone screaming at us.

And I would say that that’s the same with pretty much anyone who builds any kind of software. It is the same kind of approach. The Amazon thing is an interesting example, because Ubuntu has been through a real cultural shift, I mean I have been working on Ubuntu for over six years now, and we have changed from just being a project to being the product and the project. So we are not just a simple equivalent of something like Debian or Fedora or Mint or whatever. We are trying to build a platform that you can go and buy on your phone, you can go buy on your TV or whatever else. So there is that really delicate balance between the commercial motivations of someone like Canonical and affiliate revenue and how that is all handled, and obviously the community, and how the community handles that as well.

So it has been a really delicate balance. There has been sometimes I think we got the balance wrong, and there has been sometimes that we got the balance right, but I think overall the general approach that we are trying to do here, we are trying to do the best by both parties essentially.

Tim: One more thing. Talking about balance and commercial interests, how does the phone make Ubuntu – how does it make Canonical money?

Jono: It is a good question. It is pretty much the same as the rest of the devices as well. Canonical makes money in lots of different ways. One way is custom engineering, so if a handset manufacturer comes forward and says we love the phone, we want to put it on that, or a TV manufacturer says the same thing, then we will work with them to enable the Ubuntu phone or Ubuntu TV for example, on their hardware. So we will take their reference implementation and then we’ll make it work.

We also work with them along the business strategy, around marketing, all that kinds of stuff, and then inside of Ubuntu itself, you can buy music, you can buy videos, that kind of stuff. We obviously take a little sliver of the revenue that comes in there, the affiliate revenue. And also, if someone sells applications in Ubuntu, we take a little sliver of revenue there.

Tim: But it is all open source, there is nothing secret about it?

Jono: Everything is open source, yeah. You can go and get it, you can download it, you can use it. And we are going to be having a big push in the coming months, around getting the community interested in participating in the phone itself. So on the 2nd of January we released the phone, and we invited the community to participate in the development of the core apps, and we’ve had nearly 1300 people who expressed an interest in doing that. So my team is going to be working with those guys to figure out who’s working on what and get their designs ready, and have them working on the platform as well, so.

Tim: It is all very exciting.

Jono: Yeah, I’m really stoked.

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CES: Jono Bacon Talks Up Ubuntu for Phones (Video)

Comments Filter:
  • So what he has to say must be important. (But I still don't care about Ubuntu phones)
    • If Shuttleworth has any marbles left in that gaping ego-void in his head, he'll call it the Bacon. Crispy, Streaky, Rainbow, the version names just take care of themselves.
    • He had me at bacon.

      At least he doesn't have a middle name that sounds similar to "want" or "like"

      It will be interesting to see another platform in the mobile market but we'll see if it will fly or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not wanting to sound like an arse but Windows Phone 8 already has a lot of the personal features he's talking about. You can pin music (artists, albums, playlists etc) to the home screen.

    • You make a good point. I would also add that an Android developer could make an app that puts widgets on the home screen, or bookmarks to urls that the app can recognize. Therefore, the mechanism exists to develop Android apps that can pin anything you want to the home screen.

      So what does Ubuntu phone offer that is compelling. Especially compelling to OEMs (eg, HTC, Sony, Samsung) and compelling to mobile operators (AT&T, Verizon, etc)? And what is compelling to end users that the competition can
      • by unrtst ( 777550 )

        So what does Ubuntu phone offer that is compelling. Especially compelling to OEMs (eg, HTC, Sony, Samsung) and compelling to mobile operators (AT&T, Verizon, etc)? And what is compelling to end users that the competition cannot easily replicate?

        I rag on Unity just about any time there's a chance, but I'm actually excited about this.

        IMO, after you get the radios working, the apps out there for phones are really really simple. My phone (an HTC EVO Shift 4g) is often sluggish, and the OS and mandatory apps take up a ton of the available space. Something like this has the potential to provide a very full featured and light weight OS/apps that are nice and snappy. This matters a LOT in the mobile area. The less power you need, the less batter you use u

        • by jafac ( 1449 )

          I'm not too excited about putting an unremovable Amazon.Com AD into my pocket. Really, I am *not*.

          I have 12.10 on my laptop.

          Yes, I have *REMOVED* the amazon crap from my lens bar, both by installing the special removal package, and dconf settings. And somehow, they still keep popping up on my toolbar.

          Happily for me, KDE 4.10 came out yesterday, and I'm happy with that so far. . .

  • But WHY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:37PM (#42822491) Homepage
    Sure, geeks like us will like it.

    What benefit is it to mobile network operators to offer Ubuntu phones over, say, Android phones?

    What benefit is there for an end user to buy it instead of, say, an Android phone?

    What benefit is there for an OEM (eg, Samsung, HTC, etc) to manufacture an Ubuntu phone?

    It's like the game Blackberry and Microsoft are playing trying to get into a market with entrenched players. (Apple and Android) If there are apps and cool phones, users will buy. Developers will write apps if there are users. OEMs will build devices if users are going to buy. How do you get the ball rolling?

    If you have billions of dollars, you can try to buy your way into the market. Microsoft tried that with the Kin phone and failed. (Remember that one?) In the end, they didn't sell that many, so the loss per phone was only about $125,000 or somesuch. Microsoft is trying again, but things are not looking good.

    So given all that, WHY will Ubuntu phone be successful? For what business reason? What is the business case to OEMs, to mobile operators, to end users? What benefit does (or will) it have over existing ecosystems (iPhone, Android, etc)? Even if you can name one, is it a benefit the entrenched players cannot quickly replicate?
    • They're doing this because a lot of the changes to Gnome 3 were ostensibly to improve the experience on tablets. Since Android is putting the squeeze on tablets now, Ubuntu is trying to see if they can get an edge in on the phone market.

      • Yes. I understand why they are doing it. But per the things I pointed out, what makes Ubuntu believe they can possibly be successful? My real question is not WHY are they doing it, but WHY do they think they will be successful? (And I suppose, that leads back to the first question . . . why are they doing it then?)

        And FireFox for that matter. I think the idea of FireFox OS is way cold man! But just because I like it doesn't mean it will succeed.
    • by Kenja ( 541830 )
      Licensing? Lots of phone makers for the India and China markets dont seem to like the Android license. Of course the only thing they lose from not agreeing to the license seems to be access to the Google Marketplace.
      • So if India / China market OEMs don't want to agree to Android license and therefore lose access to Google Play marketplace, what advantage does Ubuntu Phone, or FireFox OS have? Android development still has a lot of momentum behind it. Amazon has demonstrated that you can create your own new Android app marketplace. It seems that going with Android, but skipping Google has a lot of advantage over either Ubuntu Phone or FireFox OS. OEMs are already familiar with how to put Android on their phones.

    • Re:But WHY? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kethinov ( 636034 ) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @03:05PM (#42822847) Homepage Journal

      What benefit is there for an end user to buy it instead of, say, an Android phone?

      The key value proposition to users is making your smartphone your primary (perhaps even only) computer by enabling you to to plug a monitor, keyboard, and mouse into it. And if they're really smart, they'll make a kick ass laptop dock for it so it can become a laptop too.

      If they do that, then I'll be able to replace my wife's Android phone and her aging MacBook Air at the same time with the same device. She's not interested in faster hardware, but she'd definitely like not having to worry about sync'ing data between her phone and her laptop anymore.

      If her phone and her laptop are physically the same device, then she can literally take her work with her at will in an effortless fashion without having to sync it with some clumsy cloud service first.

      • Android already works as a desktop OS, to some degree. If you've used a Google TV box, particularly the nice big keyboard / trackpad of the Logitech Revue, then you see how Android supports a mouse / trackpad and keyboard. Similarly if you have an Android tablet convertible like Asus Transformer.

        It seems like the major thing lacking is applications that work with the new touch input, and that replace existing non-touch applications from the desktop. The most obvious being "office" applications. I hav
        • Android just isn't there yet for this. Not many existing phones can transform into a mouse/keyboard driven PC experience competently, and even fewer have a laptop dock capability.

          And as you mentioned, the dearth of high quality desktop-caliber apps (like LibreOffice) is a huge problem that would need to be resolved as well along with the lack of a true window manager for a mouse-driven desktop experience.

          Not to mention the update woes. Unless you buy a Nexus device or are willing to tinker with custom ROMs,

          • I think you're right. I also think Ubuntu is much more of a dream for tinkerers. I just can't see it being successful.

            Thinking about a phone that is very close to a real Linux distribution, that I can get root access to, boggles the mind with the possibilities of what could be done. A lot of cool things have been done on Android, which is on Linux -- but it is a far cry from a real Linux distribution.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              (The Nokia N900 is about $100, you can try it cheaply. It is great.)

            • The "one device, multiple contexts" thing I think rises above the tinkerer niche. But only if Canonical does it right.

              Here's what I think would need to happen for Canonical to reach mainstream success:

              1. They'd have to ship a powerful smartphone that can transform into a tablet or a laptop using a shell peripheral, as well as support a desktop experience using an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor. That way one device can be your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop all at once.

              2. It would have to be

              • The "one device, multiple contexts" thing I think rises above the tinkerer niche. But only if Canonical does it right.

                Here's what I think would need to happen for Canonical to reach mainstream success:

                1. They'd have to ship a powerful smartphone that can transform into a tablet or a laptop using a shell peripheral, as well as support a desktop experience using an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor. That way one device can be your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop all at once.

                2. It would have to be an awesome user experience in all four contexts. All apps would have to have responsive designs capable of adapting to the context transforming while still dealing with the same user data.

                3. OS updates must continue to work as they currently do in Ubuntu. I get them from Canonical. Cell phone carriers should not be allowed to be involved in the process for the same reason my ISP does not decide what updates I install on my desktop or laptop.

                4. Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc have to not beat Canonical to it. MS already has the Surface product which is teetering in that direction, but isn't quite there yet. So we know the big players are interested.

                What worries me is I think there's a good chance that Apple, Microsoft, or Google will deliver #1 and #2 first, which will kill Canonical's chances. But if miraculously Canonical did it first, I trust them to deliver #3. I don't trust their competitors to deliver #3. Least of all Google, sadly.

                5) They'd actually have to ship a stable bug free Mobile OS and if their desktop distribution is anything to go by they have a ways to go in that department.

          • My nexus 4 has wireless display (miracast). If I can use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse combination that's pretty close to being a desktop. Of course Ubuntu will have productivity software out of the box. Libreoffice and such. And weren't they going to run side by side anyway? And would my phone be a Steam Box with Ubuntu on it? Because that would be epic. Download half life 2, miracast, kbd and mouse.

        • Ubuntu phone can presumably run any application for Debian armel.
          That's tens of thousands of high-quality open-source applications. That compares very favorably to the thousand ad-riddled crapware you have on Android.

        • For the record, Windows RT (which runs on the cheaper Surface tablets and a handful of other devices) can run most legacy Windows apps just fine, so long as they are either re-compiled for ARM or are written in .NET (with no x86-specific dependencies). It requires running a fairly user-friendly unlocking tool, and is quite unofficial, but it works. There's also a project that will (already does, for some software) allow loading an x86 EXE on RT, dynamically recompiling it to ARM, and then running that. This

    • Why does it have to offer some benefit above and beyond what's out there? It just has to be as-good and provide another option for those looking to buy a phone. Not all Andriod phones are equal, so another option out there (from an end-user perspective) would be nice.

      I understand from a business perspective, though, there has to be a PROFITABLE benfit to producing and supporting these phones. As long as it's "as good" though, why wouldn't a few OEMs test the market with it?

      • For end users, the applications are the big feature of a smartphone. So a new player like Ubuntu Phone that doesn't have applications is not that good of an alternative unless it has something really compelling -- that the competitors cannot quickly copy.
        • True, but the OS has to be built in order to even attempt to build an application repository. Kind of a chicken-and-egg scenario, although you're guaranteed no applications will be built if the OS never is.

        • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

          People have been saying that for decades. That's why we all use Ti 99/4a computers; it was the one platform with the greatest number of applications, so it's all that anyone ever bought, so it's the only platform it makes sense to develop form, so it remains the number-of-applications leader, so it's still the only computer any of us ever buys. It's a vicious cycle!

          I get what you're saying and it really does make sense. And yet it's always been wrong. For some strange reason, the computer in your pocket

        • Ubuntu already has thousands of applications and I'm sure the vast majority of them will run fine on a modern phone.
    • Answer cheat sheet: None, freeeeedom, none, yes, it won't, none, none, none, freeeedom, freeeedom.

      Partial credit for answering "Shuttleworth believes that he's got a Jobs Reality Distortion field" to any question.

    • I like how you can plug the Ubuntu phone to a display and maybe a mouse and keyboard and it becomes a full desktop computer. I do believe that phone CPUs are getting performant enough to pull this off and for most people it will have enough computing power. Of course, there are drawbacks such as what happens when someone steals the phone with all your data or shitty battery life. It will probably not have enough public appeal to become mainstream. But the idea itself is quite nice IMO.
    • by unrtst ( 777550 )

      What benefit is it to mobile network operators to offer Ubuntu phones over, say, Android phones?

      It's not an either or question.

      What benefit is there for an end user to buy it instead of, say, an Android phone?

      What benefit is there for an end user to buy a Droid Max over a Samsung SIII? This is going to come down to marketing, price, production quality, oooh shinny, etc. To most people, it's iPhone or some-other-smart-phone-made-by-company-X. To people that know much (ie. someone that knows whether Ice Cream Sandwich is newer than Jelly Bean), they'll know what this is and what its benefits/drawbacks are.

      What benefit is there for an OEM (eg, Samsung, HTC, etc) to manufacture an Ubuntu phone?

      It's another way to compete and grab some of the others market share on

    • Dock it! (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm surprised that the biggest deal about Ubuntu phone isn't mentioned!

      You'll be able to plug this phone into a dock (or otherwise connect it to a big monitor, keyboard and mouse) and use it essentially like Ubuntu desktop. There, you'll be able to run all your usual desktop applications as well as your phone applications, on a big screen with full resolution. (The do need to be built for ARM, but already most of the software in the Ubuntu Software Center has ARM versions.)

      Nobody does this yet. There ar

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Windows users don't care about Windows phones and aside from a few hobbiests, no one will care about Ubuntu phone.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I care about the Ubuntu phone, and I'm a hobby, maybe a hobbier, but definitely not a hobbiest.

  • Right behing Windows Phone, Blackberry, and Symbian.

    Give them a year or two, and enough advertising budget, and maybe they can hit 0.1% overall market share.

    Maybe it'll be an all-out game changer, but so far it's taken companies with billions of dollars in the bank to pull that off in the mobile space.

    • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @02:55PM (#42822707) Journal

      While BB10 can use Android BB10 is also using QML, the same as this phone.
      QML is overall better doe mobile development, while Qt people work on bringing QML to iOS and android. Soon one runtime will run on them all, including Ubuntu Phone

    • I'd push them to 7th, right behind FireFox OS. At least most people have HEARD of Firefox, and it will run on much cheaper hardware.
    • > Right behing Windows Phone, Blackberry, and Symbian.

      What about FireFox OS on a phone?

      1 / 2: Apple / Android
      3 / 4: Windows / Blackberry
      5: Symbian
      6 / 7: Ubuntu Phone / FireFox OS

      The 1/2 and 3/4 and 6/7 places may switch between players or be close, but either way it doesn't look good for the 6th or 7th place players.
      • Android overtook Apple long ago, but otherwise that looks about right. I think Symbian is currently ahead of Blackberry, but Symbian is also officially a retired platform, while Blackberry just released a major new OS, so Symbian will fall behind quickly. Placement between Blackberry and Windows Phone remains to be see, but; WP8 moved before BB10 and I believe there are still more WP7 devices than BB9 devices so the logical upgrade path for those users is going to favor Windows Phone. Still, the combination

  • If nokia couldn't make meego fly, i don't think canonical will succeed with a linux system either. As almost every market tend to be 2-3 heavyweights and not much more.
  • ...about as much as I want a Windoze phone. Not at all.
    • So stick to your iPhone. Let us have our choice.

      • I'll stick to my Android phone. I don't begrudge you your Ubuntu Phone or FireFox OS phone. In fact, I deeply hope they will be successful in the market. I would like a Linux based phone that is more free than Android. I just don't expect either one to go anywhere. I cannot see any reason they can succeed.
        • Carrier control.

          Have you ever noticed how your carrier has a host of crappy half-made services for video, music and other entertainment but it never really catches on because of the alternatives? With Ubuntu Phone, the carriers can have their services front and center as the point where users get their movies, music, magazines, etc. This is a big selling point for any carrier that has been trying to get in the software game.
  • Just like how it tore up the PC industry.

    Think about it...

    just a little more...

    now you get it.

    • Currently 10M+ desktop/laptop users. That's not bad, if you ask me. Tore up the PC industry? No. But it has made a difference.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised everyone is very negative about this. Am I the only one who wants this? I suppose if you are an MS or Apple zealot, you already have what you want but I run Linux as my full time desktop and use it for all of my cloud servers. I LOVE linux. I have several Android devices and love them too but I do find them limiting. I wouldn't use Android as my desktop OS and I don't think things sync perfectly across devices (except for google services). So, why not have the same OS on my phone as my d

    • The problem is that Ubuntu fell into disgrace since 12.04.
      Before that it was indeed a very cool OS that could have taken over the desktop market. The whole ordeal is just sad.

    • by zrbyte ( 1666979 )

      My next phone will have Ubuntu on it.

  • The only reason why I clicked on this story is because the guy's last name is Bacon.
  • Jono has drank so much Canonical koolaid, that he's been written off in my book. Read some of his blog posts -- he's become almost as egotistical as Shuttleworth at times.
  • Great video Ubuntu, but while saying the new OS will support all existing android based phones among others, you didn't really go into any detail. Most android companies throw together a set of patchs to get the android environment working with their specific hardware, so we wind up with a ton of slightly different android patched kernels not very compatible with eachother. In supporting a range of hardware how do you plan on dealing with this issue? Will there be seperate repos for each phone or will there
    • Handset manufacturers can easily add their own repositories just like many of the netbook manufacturers have been doing for years. If they want to upstream their drivers, all the better.
      • by detain ( 687995 )
        So in other words, the ubuntu phone supports nothing. Its up to manufacturers who already dont update their phones to take on the responsibility of writing compatible kernel patchs for another phone os they wont make any money off of?
        • Yes, and neither does Android. Ubuntu Phone is not being made for the manufacturers, it is being made for the users and promoted to the manufacturers. In fact, right now they have Ubuntu Phone running on the Android kernel, so it is already 100% compatible with most Android phones.

          Unless open drivers or specs are provided for the chipsets, the manufacturers are going to be on the hook for driver updates (which are required for kernel updates) no matter WHICH operating system they use.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @05:13PM (#42824531)

    Advertisements for a cool new smartphone OS do not revolve around cloud, tweets, facebook, and slews of neatly bundled commercial services and integrated local/web search.

    A real OS would provide a packaging option that included coming installed with nothing not even a phone dialer or SMS app. It should just focus on providing facilities to allow secure, effective communication and integration between apps and the users workflow. It should NOT define what that will be apriori.

    The reason we don't have any good smartphone OS's is because too much value would be left on the table if one were to be designed where the user comes first and the value chain comes second. Ubuntu is being corrupted by its own success.

    • Ubuntu reached its success by having a good selection of default apps and a relatively smooth user experience.
      How does launching a smartphone OS with the exact same philosophy constitute "being corrupted by its own success."?

      Ubuntu for phones does come with a predefined interface, which many people may like. If they give you access to a real package manager (they've said it will not initially ship with a phone Software Center) what would be stopping you from changing your user experience?
  • by slacka ( 713188 ) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @07:08PM (#42826453)

    As someone who suffered with a laggy HTML5 based WebOS Pre, then loved his silky smooth 3GS, but left the walled garden for a Galaxy S2, I am thrilled about this. My S2’s H/W by all accounts blows my old 3GS out of the water, yet I still find the experience more laggy than my 3 year old 3GS. I’m sure much of this is the Java VM holding Android back.

    Also, I really like the idea of a gesture based UI. So far the reviewers have loved the Blackberry gesture based UI. []

    If there is a build for the S2, I will definitely flash it. The chance to have the open platform of Linux/Android with the native speed of IOS is worth at least trying out.

  • It's 2013 and we're on Slashdot. I have to fire up a malware-bait browser because the article submission doesn't embed HTML video? :(

    [/Angry nerd rant]

User hostile.