This year looks to be an exciting one for the mobile industry. With BlackBerry 10 hoping to rekindle RIM’s fortunes, and companies such as Jolla Mobile and Mozilla attempting to disrupt the status quo with their Sailfish OS and Firefox OS open-sourced operating systems, there appears to be another entry on the mobile operating system arena. Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu project, has announced the latest mobile operating system called Ubuntu Phone OS.
The concept of the OS is pretty simple: to provide a unified visual interface across devices, something which Canonical believes all current mobile operating systems do not offer. The Ubuntu Phone OS has a pretty slick user interface, where it is almost entirely gesture-based, similar to the style of MeeGo and BlackBerry 10. However Canonical goes a step further then the two with its UI, where a swipe from any of the four edges of the screen will trigger different commands.
For example, a short swipe from the left bezel will launch a quick launch column, where all the user’s favourite apps can be selected. A left swipe on the screen will bring up a list of shortcuts to information stored on the phone, broken down into categories such as contacts, music and videos. On the other hand, a swipe from the right bezel will open the last app the user used, and further swipes will cycle between other previously used apps in chronological order.
On top, Ubuntu Phone OS also sports the familiar status bar, which can be pulled down for more information just like on Android. However, what’s different about the status bar on Ubuntu Phone OS is the ability to pull down several different types of menus, based on where the icons on the status bar which the user pulls down from. For example, tapping on the envelope icon and pulling down will open the user’s inbox without leaving the application that the user is currently in. It is an interesting solution, and similar in concept to BlackBerry 10’s Peek feature. Finally, a swipe from the bottom bezel is application-dependent, where developers are free to incorporate the gesture in their apps.
Canonical plans to ship Ubuntu phones sometime in early 2014, but in the meantime, the company will make available downloadable images of the operating system which can be installed on Google’s Galaxy Nexus in the coming weeks. Ubuntu for Android devices, which is a fusion of Android and the Ubuntu desktop OS, will be made available later this year, to be manufactured by a “high-end” Android device manufacturer. Ubuntu Phone OS will also make appearances at both CES next week and February’s Mobile World Congress.
Those interested can have an in-depth look at the OS in action at the Ubuntu Phone OS’ virtual keynote presented by Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth here.
(Source: The Verge)