This weekend saw unofficial WhatsApp support arrive on the Ubuntu Phone, with the arrival of messaging app Loqui IM. But the messaging app is not available to install from the official Ubuntu Store. Instead, it’s distributed through something called the Open Store. What is this secret app store for Ubuntu Phone, and how do you get it? In this […]
The ‘Carrier Advisory Group’ (‘CAG’) formed by Canonical, and announced today, will provide a ‘forum for mobile operators to influence the development of Ubuntu for smartphones.’
So far there are eight members of the group:
- Deutsche Telekom
- Everything Everywhere (EE)
- Korea Telecom
- Telecom Italia
- LG UPlus
- Portugal Telecom
- SK Telecom
- Unnamed Spanish network
What Does This Mean?
Eight telecoms carriers means it’s time to get excited, right? Not quite.
The CAG formation shows that there is a strong level of interest from the associated carriers in Ubuntu Touch as a platform – but it’s not a commitment to launch Ubuntu Touch on their networks ASAP.
Many of the companies are also part of other advisory projects for other mobile OSes. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica – rumoured to be the ‘unnamed spanish carrier’ – for example, are also involved with Mozilla’s Firefox OS, as are SK Telecom. Sk Telecom also find time to be part of the Tizen Advisory Group.
But it’s still very good news for Canonical and anyone hoping to see Ubuntu Touch made a success.
The companies involved in the CAG will be briefed “about device manufacturer plans to support the OS, as well as the opportunity to be a launch partner for Ubuntu on smartphones,” Canonical has said.
The group will also hold meetings to discuss topics such as:
- Differentiation for OEMs and operators
- Developer ecosystems and application portability from Android and Blackberry
- HTML5 standards
- Performance and compatibility
- Marketplaces for apps, content and services
- Revenue share models for publishers, operators and OEMs
- Payment mechanisms and standards
- Platform fragmentation
- Consumer and enterprise market segments and positioning
Mark Shuttleworth says that ’…the CAG allows us to draw on the insights and support of such a thoughtful and experienced group of industry partners.’
For more information on the Carrier Advisory Group head over to Canonical mini-site
Today’s CAG announcement marks a significant step forward for the fledgling Ubuntu Touch platform – but gaining the interest from carriers is only part of the battle.
Next, Ubuntu Touch needs to get device manufacturers on board, and harness the app developer community into producing high-quality, useful apps to fill the plugs that may be left by apps not willing to port over to the platform.
To get these carriers to take a punt on Ubuntu Touch it needs to start rising above the rest of the disruptive mobile OSes also vying for the same attention.
The post 8 Major Mobile Carriers Join Ubuntu Touch Advisory Group appeared first on OMG! Ubuntu!.
Ubuntu’s convergent goal is to have one OS running across multiple devices. No separate forks; no custom remixes, just one Ubuntu, with different faces depending on the screen it’s being viewed on.
As evidence of that goal the daily builds of Ubuntu 13.10 have welcomed some new applications into the Ubuntu Software Store: Ubuntu Touch Core Apps.
Gallery, Media Player, Notes & the webkit Web Browser are available to install and run on the Ubuntu 13.10 desktop.
All of the applications are in various stages of development (work on Ubuntu Touch and its core apps is ongoing) so don’t expect too much too soon.
That said, let’s take a look at what’s being offered.
The webkit-based web-browser for Ubuntu Touch is fairly basic thus far, but also fairly stable.
The address field, and back/forwards buttons are part of the toolbar (swipe up to show) placed at the bottom.
Tabbed browsing is already supported, and tabs can be launched and closed from a toolbar item. Clicking on a tab and dragging it to the left closes it.
Running on the desktop the browser is fully resizable, and responsive websites – e.g. like ours – adapt seamlessly during this.
If you’re already using Ubuntu 13.10 you can install the web-browser app by clicking the button below.
If you’ve tried out one of the developer preview builds of Ubuntu Touch then you may have already played with the Notes app.
It’s nothing special; it lets you add and remove notes.
The Gallery application is the app I am most impressed by already.
Again, if you’ve played with the developer builds on the phone or tablet then nothing you see here will be unfamiliar: you can view your Photo library by event, album or alone.
Individual images can be opened and edited. At the time of writing both Rotate and Crop work fine, but Auto-Enhance does not.
Are they usable as desktop apps? Kind of.
As you’d expect, the interfaces of applications designed around digit input are not particularly mouse and keyboard friendly. Useable? Yes. Ideal? No.
For example, accessing the toolbar (drag up from the bottom) is hard to do with something as precise as a mouse pointer. Overshooting by a pixel or two and you accidentally end up resizing the window.
That and a lack of keyboard navigation are the only real user experience hurdles one comes up against when trialling these touch apps on the desktop.
In fact, if the toolbars were to remain visible when an app was in desktop mode then I’d probably find myself reaching for something like the Gallery app more often than Shotwell.
The important thing to remember is that its early days for these apps, and for touch apps on the desktop.
You’ll be able to go hands on with more than just touch apps in 13.10 – developers are hoping to include a separate Unity 8 session powered by the new display compositor Mir for willing testers to play with.
Canonical’s Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon has shown off the latest progress to Ubuntu Touch as of this month.
If you haven’t seen much of Ubuntu Touch since the earlier releases back in January and February, then you’ll be surprised at how fast progress is happening.
The network and Messaging menus now work; much of the dummy data included on earlier builds has been removed; and there are a handful of functioning apps available for Ubuntu Touch, albeit still rough around the edges.
All “core features” of the phone are working – calling, SMS, and data over 3G.
While not a single handset manufacturer or mobile carrier has yet publically committed to shipping Ubuntu Phone, Canonical remain confident that the first Ubuntu Touch devices will ship in ‘early 2014′, with Ubuntu Touch tablets following in the months thereafter.
Thanks to Patrick Quinn
A video demonstrating a new set of animations for Ubuntu Touch has been posted online.
In the clip, Ubuntu designers showcase a range of visual effects for use in ‘core movements’ on Touch, including animations for switching between applications, unlocking the screen, and pressing buttons.
Ubuntu’s Designers are calling the motion theme ‘Paper’, with the visuals created around the idea of evoking ‘…the theme of paper wherever possible.’ Eschewing traditional papery-effects like curls and folds, the team have opted for a more ‘suggestive’ approach using layers and stacking.
The video also shows a number of application designs using the new ‘Suru’ UI.
Earlier in the week Ubuntu designers also demoed a video of their new RSS reader concept called ‘Shorts‘.
“Samsung are making the first Ubuntu Phone!” screams the subject field of the latest e-mail to arrive in the OMG! tips inbox.
“I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned the U1000!!” the sender protests – albeit with more capitalisation than I’m willing to convey, but adding to an ant-sized avalanche of mail along similar lines.
What’s stoking their enthusiasm? This:
It’s called the Samsung U1000 and, if half of the internet is to be believed it’s the first officially announced mobile handset to run Ubuntu Touch.
Only, that’s not the case.
The U1000 is a concept phone designed by one Suman Chatterjee. Suman is nothing if not prolific. Recent designs by him include a Facebook Tablet, a Nexus 5 design, and interesting concept for a dual-OS phone running Android on one screen and Windows Phone 8 on the reverse.
Te U1000 is nothing to do with Samsung. It’s not even a real phone. The story has simply snowballed from an original posting by the Concept Phones website, in which Suman goes into detail about what hardware his concept “runs”, to what we have today: people throwing money at their screen hoping it will stick.
Of course, this isn’t to say that Samsung aren’t working on an Ubuntu Phone. Despite making a mint from flogging Android handsets a “well known industry rumour” suggests that the company are looking to start placing eggs in another basket.
So while this Samsung Ubuntu Phone might be a load of old cobblers, the idea of one isn’t.
Announcing the ‘end of may’ goal on his blog, Canonical’s Director of Ubuntu Engineering Rick Spencer argues that ‘progress accelerates when people are using, in addition to building, software’.
Adding that this ‘dog-fooding’ allows developers to ‘….really know how far there is between where you are, and a shippable state’.
To this end both Spencer’s team, and others within Canonical, will be aiming to ensure key task of the everyday phone experience will be working by the deadline.
So what kind of ‘useable state’ is being aimed for?
- Ability to make and receive calls and text messages
- Browse the internet via 3G & WiFi
- Ability to import, edit and add contacts
- Working proximity sensors for screen dimming
- Ability to update the phone without losing data
These key parts of the core phone experience will allow developers working on it, as well as those developing apps for it, to see better gauge priorities, feature needs, and so on.
While the end of May deadline is a soft goal (one that I’m fairly certain will be reached) Ubuntu Touch still won’t be quite ready for the prime time on user handsets.
But on that front you shouldn’t have too long to wait: Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon has recently said that Canonical are aiming to have a ’1.0 Ubuntu Touch platform …ready for October so it can then be delivered to customers for deployment on handsets in Q1/Q2 2014.’
Ubuntu’s goal to run one OS across multiple devices is forward thinking – so much so that it seems other operating systems are now keen to get in on the act.
Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins, in an interview with ABC, has revealed that the company are investigating ways to power laptops and tablets from a Blackberry-powered smartphone.
If you’re a regular reader of this site, or just generally don’t live under a rock, then it should do. Canonical also have an aim to power tablets, phones, TVs and desktop using a sole OS – Ubuntu. The same code will run on each, but with its interface automatically adapting to suit the screen-size and form-factor.
Admittedly Canonical/Ubuntu are not the first company to explore the idea of computing convergence. Google, whose Android OS runs on Phones, Tablets and TVs, and possibly soon powering the base of Chrome OS, are exploring their own pseudo-convergent story. But it’s fractured implementation is, perhaps, not as elegant a solution as that proposed by Canonical with Ubuntu.
But do Blackberry stand a chance should they follow a convergent strategy?
While details are scant right now, the company will be providing more details on their plans at Blackberry World in May. But, plucky courage aside, history doesn’t bode well for them.
Motorola gave Android convergence a spin with their dockable-line of Atrix devices (which didn’t take off); and Samsung mooted it with their Galaxy Note II (originally planned to ‘convert’ into a desktop PC when docked). It’s only ASUS, with their bulky PadFone concept, that sits as the sole semi-successful attempt at bringing unified computing to the masses.
Microsoft, with Windows 8, have also attempted to bridge common ground between desktop and tablet computers.
At January’s press unveiling of the Ubuntu Phone I over-heard a discussion concerning Blackberry and Ubuntu Touch. From the snatch I heard it seems that several of Ubuntu Touch’s original designers were subsequently hired by RIM (now known as ‘Blackberry’) to work on Blackberry 10.
If anyone has any more information/pointers on whether this is true I’d love to hear from you. Contact details are at the top.
Techcrunch, Via Charlie
Canonical today through software engineer Robert Bruce Park confirmed plans to cancel the Twitter app for Ubuntu Touch.
The Twitter App was one of the core apps targeted for colloborative development with the community contributors playing a equal role.
Robert Park had this to say on the Ubuntu Phone mailing list:
“So far, Twitter Core App has been cancelled due to negotiations with Twitter. So, disappointingly, official twitter app will be a browser pointed at m.twitter.com.”
Mr. Park had in previous conversations on the mailing list highlighted the fact that users who would eventually be buying the first Ubuntu Phones would react poorly to the lack of a official Twitter or Facebook app and that it was pretty critical that Canonical buy the rights to use the Twitter brand on the upcoming platform.
It is unclear how failed negotiations will impact the overall Ubuntu Touch UI considering that displaying the amount of tweets received was a hallmark feature of the new crisp UI.
Ubuntu Touch has a number of neat interface elements, one of which is its sidebar launcher.
But unless you’re willing to flash your phone or tablet with an unstable – and not-yet-entirely-useful developer preview – you’ll have to wait for a hands-on feel for how it works.
That is, unless you install a custom app for Android called Glovebox.
Before we go on I will point out that the developer of Glovebox says his app ‘is not based on the Ubuntu Phone OS sidebar‘.
It’s up for you to decide how sincere a claim that is, but what’s more relevant than its inspiration is the functionality and style it offers. And in both cases it’s similar enough to the ‘Ubuntu Touch’ launcher to be of interest.
Features, Themes & Neat Stuff
With a quick swipe of your thumb from the side of the screen you can launch pinned apps without lifting a finger – how many apps can promise that?
Options available in the free version include:
- Add and arrange up to 8 app launchers
- Adjust position, size and location of ‘swipe’ area
- Choice of various Launcher themes, including ‘ubuntu phone’
Cough up some extra dough and you also ‘unlock’
- Add unlimited app shortcuts to launcher
- Add widgets to launcher
- Adjust opacity of launcher
The developer has put together a slick video demoing the app, including some of the premium features:
Drawbacks, Bugs & Crashes
The biggest drawback in this otherwise ‘free’ app is the locked functionality. Without coughing up for the premium version you are limited to 8 apps, no widgets, and limited customisation options.
And while the pomo video above shows off some Ubuntu Touch-esque icons, the app doesn’t currently support icon packs.
Do be aware of bugs. The most common being that the launcher ‘freezes’ on screen, and can’t be swiped away. If this happens app freezes (which it does) open up the main settings pane and toggle it off and then back on.
Glovebox is a free app for Android 1.6 and above. In-app premium version available for extra features.