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December 11, 2013

Ubuntu Touch Coming to High-End Phones Next Year

The smartphone OS arena is about to get a little more crowded – Ubuntu Touch will transition from an aftermarket OS to an all out-of-the-box OS in 2014 as Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth announced there’s a hardware partner on board.

Other than the unknown hardware maker, Canonical has deals with Vodafone, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile, 3, EE, KT, SK Telecom and PT.

Ubuntu is designed to work on two types of smartphone.

The entry level device which needs to have a dual-core processor and at least 512 MB of RAM, and the high-end that needs a quad-core processor with at least 1 GB of RAM. The main difference between the two is that the high-end phone can also act as a PC when connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse! If this is the type of high-end phone that Shuttleworth is talking then 2014 could be a very interesting year indeed!

Ubuntu Touch OS is of course hedging its bets – it supports Linux apps naturally, it can run Java-based apps in the manner of Android and even web apps like Firefox OS. Shuttleworth sees one of the main advantages of Ubuntu Touch is that, basically, it’s not a Google OS.

Many users are becoming dismayed that Android is getting progressively less open with many default apps getting closed sourced versions on the Play Store and since Android is free, Google uses it to push users to its money making services.

This is exactly the opposite of Ubuntu Touch, which vouches to be open and bring services from the likes of LinkedIn, Baidu, Facebook, Evernote, and Pinterest to the forefront as more than just shortcuts on the screen.

Next year will see the bit players fighting for relevance – Firefox OS, Sailfish OS, Tizen (maybe, it could just continue being vaporware) and now Ubuntu Touch. They’re all open, all with brand new UIs and big promises, but which ones if any will deliver?

Mark Shuttleworth said:

“We have concluded our first set of agreements to ship Ubuntu on mobile phones, we’ve shifted gears from ‘making a concept’ to ‘it’s going to ship.’ That has a big impact on the team. We are now pretty much at the board level on four household brands. They sell a lot of phones all over the world, in emerging and fully emerged markets, to businesses and consumers. Volume is important. We want to do stuff that people use every day.”

Can Ubuntu Touch shake the pack and throw up the Ace of Hearts we will soon see. Give us your thoughts below.

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini