Aside from sleek design and pretty animations, Ubuntu Touch has some competitive consumer appeal over the dominant mobile platforms.
One of Ubuntu Touch’s most appealing features is the ability to dock a device and run a full desktop environment from it. The advantage of that is that all your apps, movie collection, music, photos, documents, etcetera, go with you without having to sync between phone and desktop.
Syncing is however a prominent feature and Ubuntu One is the glue that binds all your devices together. Ubuntu One syncs files across devices, including non-Ubuntu devices running an OS such as Android, iOS, and Windows. The Ubuntu One apps for those respective platforms are already available.
The Lens infrastructure is another differentiating feature of Ubuntu Touch. Third parties are able to create “Lenses” and “Scopes” that allow users to search for specific items directly from the home screen. Search results can comprise of anything from Wikipedia articles to products from online stores to Minecraft recipes.
Canonical are putting a huge amount of effort into giving Ubuntu Touch developers a sense of ownership over the platform.
The XDA developer community is known for its involvement with the Android Open Source Project. Canonical are actively involved with the XDA community and are working with developers to build Ubuntu Touch’s core apps. Canonical will be presenting at the next XDA developer conference taking place in August 2013.
To make things easier for developers, web applications can be installed alongside native applications. This means Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Gmail, Google Maps, etcetera, are already available as “apps” for Ubuntu Touch. With minimal effort, web apps can take advantage of Ubuntu Touch OS features such as the notification and messaging systems.
As for native QT applications; developers need only write one responsive app that adapts to all the form factors (phone, tablet, desktop, and even TV), the Ubuntu package management system will handle the rest.
Ubuntu has been running corporate IT infrastructures for years, from simple mail servers to massive public or private clouds. The obvious advantage of an Ubuntu deployment is the freedom from vendor lock-in and restrictive software licenses.
Ubuntu Touch changes the end-user situation here somewhat; employees will of course be able to run a full Ubuntu workstation from their docked Ubuntu Touch device. Merging the smartphone and notebook reduces deployment costs, improves employee mobility and simplifies centralised IT management.
Ubuntu is built for thin client architectures, employees will be able to run resource hungry applications remotely. Even Windows applications like Microsoft Office will be able to run on a docked Ubuntu Touch device via Windows Terminal Server.
If there is demand from consumers, developers and corporates, then device manufacturers will certainly meet that demand. There are a few specific points that appeal to manufacturers.
Ubuntu Touch has been learning from the mistakes of Android and differentiation without fragmentation has been a consideration for Ubuntu Touch from the beginning. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will be able to build their own unique Ubuntu Touch devices while keeping the platform un-fragmented and familiar to consumers.
Ubuntu Touch is also built using the Android kernel, which means OEMs that are already involved in Android development will find it far easier to adopt Ubuntu Touch. Most of the hardware components are already supported by Ubuntu Touch or require little tweaking.
As added appeal for OEMs, they’ll be able to bundle Lenses and apps with their devices providing potential revenue streams for themselves and their partners.
Carrier Advisory Group
The Ubuntu Touch Carrier Advisory Group gives mobile carriers far more influence in shaping Ubuntu Touch’s future. Furthermore, it’s independently chaired by mobile heavyweight David Wood.
The founding members of the advisory group are Deutsche Telekom, Everything Everywhere, Telecom Italia, Korea Telecom, LG UPlus, Portugal Telecom, and SK Telecom. The list of members is growing steadily.
Canonical is doing everything they can to ensure that all stakeholders’ interests are being addressed. Going up against Android and iOS is no easy task and their approach is certainly not watertight but it’s a valiant effort and interest in the platform is growing steadily from all parties.