With a recent proclamation by Mark Shuttleworth that an "interesting set of household brands' are looking at putting Ubuntu Touch on their own phones and tablets," the mobile landscape has become quite interesting. Prior to this, it seemed like the Ubuntu Phone was having serious issues gaining any traction with major brands. However, with Ubuntu 14.04 placing a major focus on honing the Ubuntu tablet experience, things are going to get interesting.
I truly believe that a tablet running Linux could really shock the naysayers in 2014. If you don't believe me, I'll give you five good reasons why this could be the case.
1. It will actually happen
Yes, there's still a big question mark looming over the actual date we'll see the first Ubuntu tablet for sale on the market. But by the end of 2014, we should at least see images available for installation on numerous tablets. This will silence the naysayers who fully believe that the Ubuntu tablet is the latest vaporware to tease the fans and users. Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth have put way too much focus and effort into the tablet for it to fail. When the images for various tablets become available, the naysayers will be silenced.
2. An Ubuntu tablet will be user-friendlier than the competition
I've used the Touch interface. Although it's still a bit rough around the edges, it was amazingly user-friendly— more so than the Android tablet or the iOS interfaces. I know this sounds like fan-boy speak, but the developers have done an great job of creating a highly intuitive interface that will have users saying, "That's what a tablet interface should be like!" Another shocker will be how polished the UI is when it's released. That should go without saying, considering the length of the Ubuntu Touch's development period. By the end of 2014, I wouldn't be surprised if the initial release was version 2.0.
3. An Ubuntu tablet will out-flex Android
Android has long been heralded as the most flexible of all tablet interfaces, because users are able to make it look and behave exactly how they want. I believe that title will be given to the Ubuntu tablet when it's released. With the power of open source behind it, you can bet that the Ubuntu tablet will be keen on flexibility.
4. An Ubuntu tablet will run Android apps
At one point, Shuttleworth claimed that the Ubuntu tablet would not run Android applications. He has since recanted that stance, and it looks like Ubuntu tablet users will be able to have the best of both worlds. It's not clear if this will be made possible with the help of Windroid or if another layer will be created to facilitate the running of Android apps. Either way, this will be a serious feather in the cap for the Ubuntu tablet. With the entire line of Android apps at the ready, the Ubuntu tablet won't suffer the same fate as Microsoft Surface RT — that is, too few apps to make it useful.
5. The Ubuntu tablet will be a near-desktop OS
Because the Ubuntu tablet platform will use the same core technology as the Ubuntu desktop, it's an easy leap to assume that users will have desktop-like power at their fingertips. This should mean that applications meant to run on the desktop will also run on the tablet. No other tablet platform can claim this (though the Microsoft Surface 2 platform does come very close), and it will help catapult the Ubuntu tablet into heights no other tablet has before seen. And for those accustomed to the Ubuntu desktop interface — Unity — this will be a full-on no-brainer.
The Ubuntu tablet will happen. When it does, there should be a lot of naysayers out there redacting their claims of doubt. I, for one, am excited about the possibility of the Ubuntu tablet. The tablet space is in dire need of something as powerful, flexible, and secure as a Linux tablet. If Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical have their way, 2014 will be the year to silence the naysayers.
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.