South African millionaire and Canonical boss, Mark Shuttleworth, announced during a “virtual keynote” yesterday evening (2 January 2012) that a version of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system (OS) would be coming to smartphones.
The “self-appointed benevolent dictator for life”, as he’s affectionately known within the Ubuntu project, showed a mobile OS that incorporates many features of existing platforms while making them its own.
Sticking to the design of the default Ubuntu user interface (which is called “Unity”), Ubuntu for phones places a column of shortcut icons on the left edge of the device.
These icons don’t permanently take up screen real-estate as they are hidden and accessible by swiping from the left edge of the device onto the display.
A full list of apps is available by tapping the bottom button of the shortcut bar, which bears the Ubuntu logo.
Swiping from the other edges of the display lets you access other features, such as switching between open apps (right edge), accessing the current app’s buttons (bottom edge) and the system status icons (top edge).
The system status icons at the top of the display also act as shortcuts to various system settings which can be accessed by swiping along the system status bar without first leaving the app you’re in.
“On Ubuntu, if you can see it, you can use it,” Shuttleworth said.
Shuttleworth closed the video off by asking handset vendors to get in touch with Canonical about running Ubuntu for phones on their devices.
He also announced that Ubuntu for phones caters for mobile network operators and manufacturers that want their own customisations on the devices they offer.
“Operators and OEMs want to differentiate their devices and their service offerings. Ubuntu has been designed to accommodate that,” Shuttleworth said.
“We work with your design team to find the best way to present your custom capabilities, while preserving universal application compatibility across the ecosystem.”
Shuttleworth said that they will have Ubuntu for Phones on show at CES 2013 which is being held in Las Vegas in the coming week (8 – 11 January 2013).