For anyone who is already addicted to multiple gadgets which are invaluable in both work and fun, having a truly unified experience is the next step. Merging together a desktop OS like Ubuntu with a mobile OS like Android would seem like a tricky thing to do. Why shifting from the smartphone’s environment, to the laptop’s OS, then to the desktop and back to the smartphone again when you could stick by one device and have it all? Well, people from Canonical realized that this is a widespread dilemma and have come out with a solution: Ubuntu for Android. The guys are smart enough to realize that the users are toying with porting a platform experience to other devices than initially designed (remember, you can install Android on PC) and took it to the next level.
Ubuntu for Android, Unifying the Powers of Two Operating Systems
Instead of developing an Ubuntu-like app that could only be a reminder of the Ubuntu environment or a new mobile OS, Canonical team decided to use the growing popularity of Android and add new features on top of it. They merged the users’ experience with both platforms and joined together the Ubuntu architecture with Android 2.3 Gingerbread (maybe they’ll scale that up to Ice Cream Sandwich, too). Consequently, the two operating systems work well together allowing smartphone owners to fully enjoy the functionality of their handsets and get something extra.
“Thanks to tight integration with the Android service layer, the transition between the two environments is seamless, making it easy to access the phone’s services from the desktop when docked,”
explains the official website, but what’s really behind the advertisement text?
An Android smartphone that has Ubuntu installed still has the same environment as any Android phone, with the same applications and delivering the same experience. The magic begins when the smartphone is plugged into the HDMI dock of a PC and then it turns out that the smartphone could become the desktop. While the user enjoys the newly found functionality he or she can still make phone calls, send SMS (for free, if you like). Now, the Ubuntu on Android allows extra functionality on a bigger screen than the smartphone’s display, including access to office software, emails, not to mention the convenience of the attached keyboard.
The Main Features
Let’s filter the main features to look for the main advantages. When you give your Android smartphone the power of Ubuntu, you’ll get:
- full web productivity, which means the multi-tab, multi-window browsing experience, delivered by the support for Chrome and Firefox
- unified contacts, that translates into the same address book displayed on the desktop as the one found on the mobile. To give it an extra edge, the teams behind the new Ubuntu experience, allowed users to access the Twitter and Facebook profiles much easier
- calendar coordination is a feature that makes the coordination between Android calendar and Ubuntu to be a useful organizational tool
- messaging and calls are easy to access from the desktop with Ubuntu’s notifications
- synchronized settings like the alarm clock, suddenly work on both environments
- photo manipulation benefits from a larger screen even though the pictures were captured by smartphone’s camera
The question on everybody’s mouths is this – so, when will it be released? I need it, now! Hold your horses, you won’t have to wait for too long. Canonical announced that they will officially launch Ubuntu for Android at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which will take place next week.
A few Drawbacks
We don’t like it but we have to tell you: for now, Ubuntu for Android only has limited availability. First, you have to have a smartphone with HDMI out, then the smartphone has to be quite powerful. In order to get the full experience, the handset needs a dual- or even a quad-core processor with at least 512 MB of memory. To be completely honest, Ubuntu is made for the latest smartphones, with the top of the high end features, if not for the next generation smartphones we are only rumoring about now.
But, technology is moving fast and very soon what is now considered to be expensive and exquisite, tomorrow will be common and mundane. In the future, Canonical has big plans for Ubuntu, and as previously shown, it is not unlikely to see the next Ubuntu especially designed for the tablet users. From the consumer’s point of view, their move to enhance Android’s versatility is to be considered a much smarter move than the one to confront Android and iOS.