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Ubuntu phone release date: on track for 2014 launch

Jim Martin | July 2, 2014
Handsets to cost between £150 and £300.

Ubuntu phone release date

In 2013, Canonical -- the company behind Ubuntu -- attempted to raise US$32m via crowdfunding for its Ubuntu Edge smartphone. It didn't make it, but the Ubuntu phone isn't dead. In fact, development is well under way and the Ubuntu phone operating system is very much alive. If you're brave enough, you can download and install the developer version on certain Android smartphones and tablets by following the instructions here.

At least, it looks good from the screenshots here, which are from the Ubuntu website.

Ubuntu phone release date

Early in 2014 numerous reports suggested that the first Ubuntu phones had been delayed until 2015, but Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced at MWC that two devices would go on sale this year.

Canonical has signed agreements with Spanish handset manufacturer bq and China-based, high-end smartphone maker Meizu. These are relatively unknown brands in the UK, but both manufacturers will launch the first Ubuntu smartphones to consumers around the world. Currently, there are no firm details on which month the handsets will launch, but according to TheInquirer Shuttleworth has already said that the phones will cost between $200 and $400, which should equate to £150 and £300 in the UK including VAT. He also said that the more familiar manufacturers will join the fold with devices of their own next year.

Ubuntu phone release date

What is Ubuntu phone?

Canonical is arriving late to the smartphone and tablet party, but says this is an advantage since it has seen the success of Android and will be able to build upon it.

Building upon it means producing a mobile operating system that puts the content you like most at your fingertips. Instead of grids of icons, which Canonical says are outdated, apps and content will be prioritised by 'scopes'. By the looks of it, these are very much like the carousel of recent content that you get on a Kindle Fire tablet.

Ubuntu phone release date

Plus, when you swipe in from the left, you'll get a quick launcher full of your favourite apps. And, in a similar minimalist fashion to Windows 8, context-sensitive options are hidden off-screen until you swipe up from the bottom, leaving more room for the apps themselves. This isn't a success in Windows, as it's simply confusing, but it might work better on a smaller screen.

Canonical's aim is to have the top 50 apps available at launch, including Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote and Amazon. Like Firefox OS, which runs on the ZTE Open C, HTML 5 apps are "equal citizens". That basically means Ubuntu phone will support web apps, so developers shoudn't need to do much to existing HTML 5 apps to make them work on Ubuntu phones. Native apps, however, will benefit from running faster by using the phone's processor, GPU and other hardware directly.


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