Get the FAQs about Ubuntu on smartphones

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What are the big questions Canonical gets asked about its Ubuntu for Phones proposition? Here, we gather the top questions (in no particular order) and give the answers.

What makes Ubuntu for smartphones so different to other OSes?

We are filling some real market gaps with an innovative platform for a new category of ‘superphone’ as well as providing a much richer experience for entry level phones. Not only is Ubuntu backed by a strong app ecosystem, it brings great new capabilities including a superb user experience, strong OEM support, customization opportunities and an ability to support all hardware from the low end to the most highly specified smartphones.

Take customization for example. We give our partners more influence over the services they can make available to end users, unlike Android and other platforms that have services locked into the phone. Hardware makers and operators can customize the interface to suit their users.

We also focus on allowing all services to run natively through hardware to achieve best possible performance. And we embrace HTML to ensure all the wonderful innovation from web services development is supported. We offer the best of both worlds – native and web-based services.

What do you mean by HTML5 and native apps being “equal citizens”?

An application written in HTML as a web application will have its own UI context running Ubuntu meaning it can run independently of the browser (so if the main browser is closed, the web application will continue to run). Ubuntu also defines different levels of UI integration which web applications can benefit from to give the user a more integrated experience – this is especially useful for social media and multimedia web applications. It means the web app can surface alerts and notifications using standard Ubuntu UI elements such as the notifications menu. As “equal citizens” we allow web apps to behave in the same way as native applications, so they may share the same system resources to ensure performance and share the same customisations.

What do you mean by ‘device convergence’?

With Ubuntu, the industry’s first fully converged device will be a high-end smartphone that can be docked to a monitor and keyboard to become a powerful desktop PC. This is made possible because we have a very deep level of integration between the services on the phone and the desktop – underneath, it is really the same OS. This is a real strength of Ubuntu.

What makes you think you’ll succeed?

Running on desktops, TVs and phones, Ubuntu is a trusted brand supported by thousands of contributors, millions of users and the world’s largest OEMs. The mobile industry is crying out for a new, affordable, feature rich operating system that’s easy to work with. We are perfectly placed to meet that need.

What is the target market for Ubuntu for Phones?

Ubuntu supports all the different smartphone segments. At the high end, it creates an entirely new ‘superphone’ category with converged devices that act as phones on the move, but with full PC functionality when docked with a keyboard and monitor. Ubuntu is also great for aspirational consumers who want a superior experience, with faster, richer performance on lower cost smartphones. It’s a positioning that’s captured the interest of operators in Asia, Europe, Africa and North and South America. Ubuntu will probably launch first on smartphones in Western Europe.

What types of user will want Ubuntu for smartphones?

The first is an enterprise audience that wants to combine phone and thin client or desktop into one highly secure device. Secondly, consumers who want a lean, beautiful smartphone. Both are equally important.

Do you have any interested partners that you can talk about?

We are in discussions with all major handset OEMs and some of Western Europe’s leading mobile operators, but none we can talk about publicly. Work is also ongoing with silicon vendors to ensure they can use most of the Android board support package in order to deliver handsets at volume, when needed.

What are the minimum hardware requirements?

A: Ubuntu will run on standard low end hardware. Hardware component costs are falling so we can guarantee that the Ubuntu OS will align with all relevant low end specifications: typically 1 GHz processor and 512 MB — 1 GB RAM.

Is it really open source?

Yes absolutely! Open source is used in the same way as other Ubuntu developments. And we will be releasing a the code base for the phone OS shortly.

When will it be available to buy?

This depends mainly on our partners’ roadmaps, but we are working with these partners today and expect the Ubuntu to be available on phones during 4th quarter 2013 or in early 2014.