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