Ubuntu maker Canonical is getting into the smartphone business in a big way. The company announced its popular Linux-based operating system Ubuntu designed to run on smartphones, scheduled to hit the streets in 2014.Information for app developers is already available at developer.ubuntu.com, and the OS will support apps written in native code as well as web or HTML5 apps.
The user interface will incorporate edge gestures, a global search function, and support for voice and text commands. Some of the ideas look pretty interesting — for instance, instead of a “lock screen,” there’s a “welcome screen” which shows notifications and other data as soon as you turn on the device. But you can launch apps from that screen by swiping from the edge of the screen to bring up shortcuts.
Ubuntu’s search functionality resembles Palm/HP’s webOS. A single search query will yield results from multiple sources, and Ubuntu is apparently clever enough to determine which of the results are most likely be what you’re looking for. Throw in support for robust voice commands and the ability to play nice with HTML5 apps as well as native ones and you’ve got yourself one intriguing little product.
Meanwhile, this year the company plans to partner with Android smartphone makers to ship the first devices featuring “Ubuntu on Android,” a solution that lets you dock your Android phone to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to use your phone as a full-fledged desktop computer. When you’re away from your desk, you can use your phone as a normal Android handset.