Mobility

10 reasons why the Ubuntu Phone should be your next mobile device

Looking for your next smartphone? Jack Wallen explains why the Ubuntu Phone should be your mobile solution.

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The Ubuntu Phone is set to launch this year. With more and more major players getting on board as hardware suppliers, you can bet the darling of Linux mobility will slowly find its way into every market imaginable. The big question mark is the US market. With Android and IOS having a stranglehold on US customers, can this new mobile platform make it? I firmly believe that the Ubuntu Phone not only can be your next mobile device, it should be. I'll give you 10 reasons why.

1: Unity interface

From the beginning, the Unity interface was designed and developed with mobile devices in mind. Unity was initially released in 2010, which means it's had four years and four major releases to get it fine-tuned for massive mobile use. That kind of fine-tuning is unheard of prior to an initial release. Add to this, the code base for both the desktop and the mobile iteration will be 100% the same (upon release of the first mobile device), so the worldwide network of open source developers who work on Ubuntu Unity will continue to make it one of the finest interfaces you will ever experience.

2: Updates

Unlike the other platforms, the Ubuntu Phone will follow in the footsteps of its desktop sister and enjoy a steady stream of updates. And most likely, you won't suffer from the upgrade lag found in some carriers or manufacturers. Updates will happen when they are released. Although carriers will be able to add their own software to the base stack, that software should not interfere with the update process -- especially on a kernel level. If you're one of those who like to have the latest version, the Ubuntu Phone will give you updates in spades.

3: Easy customization

All other phones should pale in comparison to the customizations you'll have available. And it won't be long before open source developers have their way with the platform and different interfaces will be available. You think Android has a lot of customization... just wait until the Ubuntu Phone platform gains the slightest bit of traction. Currently, Android is the king of customization. Whether the initial Ubuntu Phone can usurp that crown has yet to be seen. But you can bet it will give it a run for its money. Once the platform has solidified, and the developers begin doing their thing, the sky's the limit.

4: So many apps

There are already a plethora of apps that can be crafted to work with the Ubuntu Phone. Yes, apps like LibreOffice and The Gimp will require some magic to get them to work with the mobile interface. But the core is there, and most of those apps will need only tweaking to get them to work. You can bet Canonical will work hard to make sure that along with the launch of the Ubuntu Phone, there will be a sizable number of apps ready. And that number will grow exponentially, as developers scramble to get their software onto yet another platform. Who isn't ready for a mobile version of LibreOffice?

5: Security

Android is based on Linux, so it gains a certain level of inherent security. Ubuntu Phone is even closer to being a straight-up take on the Linux kernel -- and that means even more security. In a time when malware and stolen data have become key issues on many fronts, having a mobile platform as secure as the Linux desktop will go a long, long way toward easing the minds of users.

6: Desktop integration

Most platforms have tried it, but none has fully managed to realize a seamless desktop integration. Ubuntu Phone should finally make this a reality. Imagine having the same data across all devices and being able to easily (and completely) sync your desktop, phone, and tablet without having to add third-party software. This is the reality that will be the Ubuntu Phone. You will also enjoy the same apps across devices. In the end, that means a shallower learning curve for all involved. The only current hurdle is getting Unity 8 (and Mir) released for the desktop. Once that has occurred... again, say I, the sky's the limit.

7: Universal device UI

One interface for all. Desktop, smartphone, tablet. Canonical started the push for convergence and will most likely stand at the head of the crowd the second the Ubuntu Phone is available. Even without full-blown convergence, you can enjoy the same interface on all devices. All the core elements will be there (on all devices): Dash, Launcher, Scopes, and more. Not only will it be easy to learn and use, it will be incredibly efficient to support. You know one interface, you know them all.

8: Search

With Scopes available to the Ubuntu Phone, users will be searching with a power they have never before experienced (unless they've already used Unity and Scopes). If you are not familiar with Scopes, imagine having more than 100 sources in which to search -- all at once. So when you search for an item, you will get results from multiple locations (local storage, Amazon, Google, Wikipedia, and much more.

9: Easy gestures

The Ubuntu Phone will enjoy a solid gesture experience. With a full left-to-right swipe, you'll get a list of all your currently running apps. Tap on one of those apps to bring it back to focus. Swiping from the bottom edge of the phone will reveal the controls for the current app. Swipe down from the top edge of the screen to reveal your notifications. A sort swipe from the left edge of the screen will reveal your Launcher, which holds all your favorite apps, ready for launching.

10: Cloud integration

With the recent announcement that Ubuntu One is shutting down, you can be sure that the Ubuntu Phone will have some sort of cloud storage capability. Whether it's something akin to Dropbox is hard to say. But given the nature of the Linux platform, there will be plenty of options for cloud storage on the Ubuntu Phone. Will it be as seamless as, say, Android is to Google? Possibly. Will it have as many options as Android? Probably. What's certain is that the Ubuntu Phone will play nicely with cloud storage. It's a shame that Canonical decided to axe Ubuntu One, but the Ubuntu Phone will still be perfectly at home in the cloud.

Are you in?

The Ubuntu crowd is already excited about this device finally hitting the market. Will you be jumping on the Ubuntu Phone bandwagon? What has you most excited about this new platform? If you won't be joining the ride, why not? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

Also read...

The Ubuntu Phone is official: Let the madness begin!

Canonical closes down Ubuntu One cloud file services

Five reasons why the Ubuntu tablet could shock naysayers in 2014

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

16 comments
programit
programit

my major concern is Ubuntus current trend to log, sell and misuse user information for financial gain.

People may put up with Unity on the desktop pushing every search and entry to amazon and friend and the constant bombardment of irrelevant advertising on the desktop, but will they put up with this behaviour on a phone? 

Scopes mean more advertising, more logging, more tracking, less security, less privacy! 

I

rk1708
rk1708

Their crowd-sourcing campaign went unfinished but I'm desperately waiting for this phone, and the Firefoxphone too

spawnywhippet
spawnywhippet

Here is precisely why Ubuntu Phone will NEVER be a market leader - almost all users have no interest in doing this:


"4: So many apps - Yes, apps like LibreOffice and The Gimp will require some magic to get them to work with the mobile interface. But the core is there, and most of those apps will need only tweaking to get them to work."

alzie
alzie

Well, ive tried ubu touch on my N7 and

theyll need to do a heck of a lot of polishing

to get it to release quality.

If it gets released to the wild in any thing like its current condition,

itll be a major exercise in frustration.


Its an up hill battle, but i wish them well.


Odipides
Odipides

I'm all for it. Hate Android with a passion; it brings Linux into disrepute in my opinion( with its lobotomised GUI) and a phone with a proper OS on it is long overdue.



P.S.

(I don't want to be picky but, in the title: "10 reasons why the Ubuntu Phone should be your next mobile device", the "why" is tautological)

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

There is another problem that may be impossible to surmount, also. How many carriers are going to jump on an open source bandwagon that they can't control as they do now. If this phone updates without the carriers permission then they won't accept it. Therefor it will be dead in the water.

metaphysician
metaphysician

One reason to NOT change to Ubuntu


Software investment.  It was painful enough when I was forced to switch from Palm OS to Android.  I don't want to invest a couple hundred dollars to get what I consider crucial apps again.  Android does what I need it to.

Tolga BALCI
Tolga BALCI

Jack, I am sometimes amazed at your optimism. I have been a Linux user for 10+ years and I still cannot understand how the community misses some points.


One is LibreOffice, which you mentioned in #4. The interface is Office 95's interface and for years it has not been updated. I know that people still stick to that kind of interface, but there could as well be skins that offer Microsoft-ish interface (yes, I am a fan of the ribbon interface). "The core is there" as you said, but for an application that looks ~20 years old, it requires a high level of optimism to expect it to have a mobile interface.


As considerable number of people already migrated to cloud and Ubuntu One is shutting down, it requires another level of optimism to think that the cloud integration is a reason to switch to Ubuntu. With no cloud storage, no music, no sharing and no value-added services, why should anyone, except the enthusiasts, would make a switch? Even I, cannot think of a reason to leave native Google-Android, Microsoft-OneDrive/Office 365, Apple-iCloud and to switch to a Ubuntu-??? platform.


I love and support Linux to the best of my knowledge. But this does not mean that everything Open Source rocks or is an "immediate replacement" solution. Linux, for years, is thinking that the technical superiority is above everything else. Ubuntu Phone is another incarnation of this idea. It may be technically superior but it is not a complete platform as Google, Microsoft and Apple. Today, in a time of platform wars, Ubuntu has to offer something really promising and deliver the promises. I really hope that Canonical has the deep pockets to fight in a "World Wide War of Platforms."

hoosiertechguy
hoosiertechguy

#4..."that number will grow exponentially, as developers scramble to get their software onto yet another platform"  Really?  I don't see developers "scrambling" to develop for Windows Phone, what makes you think they'll scramble to get onto Linux.  I'll probably hear a predictable answer on this one, I'm sure.


#6 & #7...These only apply to people who already use a Linux device, which isn't that many, otherwise, they're useless points to make.


That being said, I'm looking forward to seeing Ubuntu here in the States and will be very happy when I can get my hands on one.  But Jack, can't you curb your enthusiasm a bit?  I mean, you go all slobbery gaga over anything Linux, while other platforms do thing just as well, in some cases better.  Just because something is Open Source doesn't mean it's the be all, end all...it just means that yet another talented programmer is allowing me, and others like me to take advantage of said talents for absolutely nothing.  Thanks, folks!

Gisabun
Gisabun

@spawnywhippet I agree. "So many apps" is not a positive thing. For example, ever checked how many apps are on the Android Play Store that can flick a virtual lighter [for use at a concert]? It is not the quantity but the quality. Additionally, unless the application will work correctly on a phone, users won't bother with it.
Aside from getting OS updates when you need it, most of the other 8 reasons have the same thing, similar or better in any other smartphone.

John Stef
John Stef

I disagree with your comment over libre office and would like to mention that there is a better alternative to microsoft office available to both windows and linux platforms the same. It's called KINGSOFT OFFICE, looks great, is faster than W.O. or L.O. and is highly compatible with W.O. formats. 

QuidFit
QuidFit

@Tolga BALCI as for the cloud music sharing and integration has not stopped Canonical has agreements with groveshark that allows them to use their data in the dash you. The dash has recently gained integration with 7digital.com (music previews and everything) on the music end ditching Ubuntu one was kinda crucial their library sucked sharing with other services is easier, if anything music is just getting better for Ubuntu. I think its reasonable to expect cloud services to be integrated in a similar way especially if Canonical is dropping Ubuntu one however I'll wait for some proof before I advertise this.

I really don't think libre office looks that bad... though to be frank I don't think they have the resources to build a mobile app any time soon.


tbmay
tbmay

@hoosiertechguy  He's always had an irrational perspective on GNU.  Linux/unix is everywhere.  Linux is only a kernel.  On top of that kernel (a binary that controls device io) runs such things as Red Hat, Ubuntu, Android, VMWare ESXi...the list could go on. The ones I listed are most definitely success stories but Jack, and others, are not satisfied with that.  They want the general public to use the GNU toolset.  Now I'm a "linux" engineer by trade and have to use that toolset, which has it's most important tools on the CLI.  But that is not the makings of a desktop, or consumer device.


Ubuntu is nice.  I have an Ubuntu desktop and I use it.  I like features like home folder encryption.  I spend a lot of time RDP'ing into Windows machines with it though.


I just don't see any good reason the general public would switch to a GNU platform when they are satisfied with what they're using.  I'm not ditching my Android for an Ubuntu phone.  I don't care what others do.


If "Linux" success is what matters to you, it's already succeeded.  If you just HAVE to get everybody to use "Linux" on their devices and desktops, you probably are going to be disappointed, and you really need to ask yourself why it matters what others use anyway.

ricegf2013
ricegf2013

Developers follow market share. Windows is under-represented in apps because it sells poorly on mobile devices. The Ubuntu Edge broke all crowd-sourcing records, and Ubuntu has 25+ million users world wide despite little advertising and Microsoft's best efforts. Time will tell what happens when they get serious about marketing.

But can we give up that old chestnut that "open source programmers work for free"? Seriously? In the real world, they work for Google, IBM, Red Hat, HP, and other major companies - including Microsoft - for very real money. In fact, Linux developers are among the most in-demand experts commanding among the highest salaries in the country right now!

Taking advantage of them my eye. Ka-ching!

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