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Ubuntu for Tablets Announced, Has Major Potential to Impact Market

Posted on February 20, 2013 12:40 PM by Rob Williams
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Canonical has taken the veil off of its “Ubuntu for Tablets” OS, and I’d be lying if I said I’m not impressed. While the Ubuntu for Smartphones launch last month was intriguing, nothing inspired me to believe that its future would be that bright. I could be wrong, of course, but I got a totally different feeling from this tablet OS launch. It’s great-looking, polished, feature-rich, intuitive and looks to be great for multi-tasking. Canonical might just have a winner here.

I’m admittedly not a fan of Ubuntu’s Unity environment on the desktop, but for smartphones and tablets, it looks perfect. After watching a video with Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth showing a tablet off, that sentiment is only strengthened. Sliding in from the left reveals the app launcher; the right, a “Side Stage” which runs phone-based apps; the top, settings and services and bottom, app-specific controls.

You can see an example of the bottom swipe below:

Ubuntu Tablet OS 02

Ubuntu for Tablets is built like others with social features in mind, so all official apps are going to have the ability to share content with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Gmail and of course, Ubuntu One.

None of that is what’s too impressive about the OS, though. What is, is how fluid everything appears to work. Swiping from the right, for example, could open a video chat, while your movie continues to run just fine underneath. Done with the call? Simply swipe it out of the way and proceed to pick milk up on the way home.

Ubuntu Tablet OS 01

“Ubuntu HUD” is a (kind of) neat feature that allows you to use your voice to control certain apps, such as launching the dark / light tool in GIMP or perhaps even telling Transmission to pause downloads. Going further, Canonical makes mention of CAD apps, video editing tools and so forth, so it’s clear that it has plans to make its tablet OS capable for more things than simple tablet apps. 

One of the things that stands out most to me with Ubuntu for Tablets is its “neatness”, and that’s exactly what Canonical was going for. It simply looks great; it’s an interface where I don’t even think I’d feel the need to replace the launcher for quite some time. Unless of course tweaking options are limited much like they were with Unity in its infancy.

Currently, Canonical doesn’t have signed partners (that we’re aware of), but on account of the OS being designed around either the ARM Cortex A15 or an Intel x86 processor (not x64, apparently), we’d be surprised if a couple of companies didn’t jump in soon and develop a tablet around it.


  • e550mercedes

    Looks good, but despite what you say, “It’s great-looking, polished, feature-rich, intuitive and looks to be great for multi-tasking.”, it’s of little consequence without a vast library of first-rate apps, so despite what some say about the iPad, its 300,000 native tablets has kept it in the forefront despite some Android tablets having superior specs. I see dont’ see any reason to believe otherwise with Ubuntu, even though I’m an avid user of it, Mint and Kubuntu. Of course, you never know, you know?

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      I am not going to fault a new tablet OS for not having 300,000 apps before it even launches. If people had that attitude at the iPad launch, it would have gone no where.

      • e550mercedes

        I agree with you totally. I never implied Ubuntu was not good, or that it wouldn’t eventually succeed, but rather that it wouldn’t be as easy as some would like. I hope it succeeds, as I do Windows, but if it does, it will take time, native tablet apps, not desktop hand-me-downs, and other factors to in order to do so.

    • http://techgage.com/ Marfig

      I really am confused. Do you really use Linux? And have you actually read the article? Both things seem a near impossibility giving the nature of your answer.

      1 – The iPad didn’t start with 300,000 first-rated apps. And it still doesn’t have 300,000 first-rated apps. It may have 300,000 apps, of which 200 or 300 (1%) are first-rated.

      2 – This is the Linux ecosystem. You don’t fool around the Linux ecosystem. It has one of the largest (if not the largest) software libraries of any operating system out there. Meanwhile, Apps are software in case you missed it when it happened.

      I don’t really understand why you seem inclined to put the iPad vs. Android in here. I mean, it’s not only irrelevant but doesn’t even work as you intended. I would have to remind you that the iPad has been losing market share to the competition compared to the dominant position it held a few years back. So those 300,000 apps… you know, might not be that important.

      This is instead an article about a new Operating System and what it may have or not to offer in terms of the ability to provide a platform for future tablet PCs. This isn’t about Apple, or Android, or Samsung, or Williams vs Renault. And definitely you don’t want to use the number of Apps argument when it comes to Linux either. It’s… man, like trying to say skyscrapers won’t be of any use because they aren’t tall enough. It’s nonsensically dumb.

      • e550mercedes

        “1 – The iPad didn’t start with 300,000 first-rated apps. And it still doesn’t have 300,000 first-rated apps. It may have 300,000 apps, of which 200 or 300 (1%) are first-rated.”

        First of all, 1% of 300,000 is 3,000 which, by the way, is more than than Android has. See the point? If only 1% of a software library is optimized for tablets, where does that leave others tablets that only have a fraction of the iPads? Less than a month ago I read that mighty Android tablets, even though they can run all Android apps, only has 1,000 or less apps optimized for tablets! Linux has tons of apps, but they are all optimized for desktops, and most of them are crap. Sure, there are gems, but that one-percent figure you like to use also applies.

        I’ve been using Ubuntu since it first came out, picking it up in France. I’ve giving it to other Linux fans who at first derided it, so I consider myself an original user. Even though Ubuntu is my baby, I actually prefer Kubuntu and Mint but still love Ubuntu nonetheless.

        “I don’t really understand why you seem inclined to put the iPad vs. Android in here.”

        If Google, with Samsung, HTC, and other Android giants are having a hard time with tablets, then maybe, just maybe this could also pose a problem for Ubuntu as well? I’m not saying, and never did, that Ubuntu would fail, but like any other new tablet OS it won’t be a walk in the park.

        Apple is the only company that reports units sold. Google, Samsung, Microsoft refuse to give actual numbers sold. Last year Samsung boasted that it sold millions of Galaxy tabs. It fought tooth-and-nails to keep the actual figures sold secret, but thanks to the only going legal case between it and Apple the courts revealed that barely 200,000 where actually sold, so I’m not too sure what you are getting at when you say that the iPad is losing market share. Of course, when Apple reinvented the tablet space it basically had the entire market to itself, so we all knew that as others entered that its share would naturally go down, but nonetheless it is still bigger than everybody else combined.

        Same thing with the iPhone and Android. Everyone says that Samsung is beating the crap out of the smartphone market. Not so fast I say, because the iPhone 5 and 4S has been selling far better than the Galaxy III recently, and I mean GLOBALLY as the link below points out!

        http://blogs.strategyanalytics.com/HCST/post/2013/02/20/Strategy-Analytics-Apple-iPhone-5-Becomes-Worlds-Best-Selling-Smartphone-Model-in-Q4-2012.aspx

        When you state that 300,000 apps may not be that important, well then it is you, my friend, that are being rather silly, because, after all, my new Mercedes, as nice as it is, is still rather useless isn’t it if I only have excess to limited supplies of gas? No gas, no gasoline car will go very far. The same applies to computing devices, its the apps that make them go.

        I’m at a loss why you would be so upset because I simply stated that simply having a good OS isn’t necessarily good enough these days? Mac classic was long considered better than Windows back in the day, but who won that war? Cheap prices, wider selection, and “developers, developers, developers, developers”…. who created apps, apps, apps, apps, that’s who won!

        I like Ubuntu on the desktop, as I do the new tablet OS, and as much as I would like to see it succeed, I know that it has a tough fight ahead of it because as cool as mighty Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablets are, and despite all its money and marketing skills, it is wildly known that they are not exactly setting the world on fire, so what exactly actually makes you think that Ubuntu is just going to come along and do what Microsoft has yet failed to do?

        You seem rather defensive, and frankly, if you don’t mind me saying so, you come across as being rather silly and hypocritical in calling me silly simply for stating the obvious facts that … you need more than just a good OS to succeed these days. I think Linux is a better OS than Windows, but again, it is Windows, not Linux that dominates the desktop category. As far as Linux and OS X goes, to me they seem share so many similarities that I consider the latter, based on open source software, like Linux, to just like a commercial version of the former.

        The link below clearly illustrates my point, that if mighty Microsoft’s excellent tablet’s is having a hard time with tablets, so then, most likely any and all brand new tablet OS’S most likely will find it hard, especially without apps, no matter how good, or how fluid, how social they might be:

        http://www.theverge.com/2013/2/4/3950476/microsoft-surface-sales-figures

        • http://techgage.com/ Marfig

          You know, I tried to avoid it. We should always try to take a step back, let the other person take a breather and possibly make amends, before deciding to embarrass them. But you didn’t take that opportunity.

          http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-29/google-says-700-000-applications-available-for-android-devices

          That was from October last year. Not only you are wrong about Apple number of apps — 300,000, really? It’s more than double that, kiddo! — but you are also wrong about Android ecosystem, which equaled Apple’s just 5 months ago. Sorry for pooing on your party.

          The rest of your post gets more confusing as I go and I’m just deciding to ignore it altogether and forget I ever read it.

          I don’t think you understand the importance of Ubuntu move to any consumers of Tablet PCs who may have come to benefit from a richer and more varied market. No longer tied to just two vendors, but also benefiting from a true open source tablet PC platform. For you it’s to hell with consumers, only Apple matters.

          Oh, and I hope you don’t mind me linking you to Bloomberg Business Week. I happen to prefer those type of sources to some user blog or the Verge.

          Bye. And next time actually try to stay informed before making a fool of yourself.

  • http://techgage.com/ Marfig

    I really am confused. Do you really use Linux? And have you actually read the article? Both things seem a near impossibility giving the nature of your answer.

    1 – The iPad didn’t start with 300,000 first-rated apps. And it still doesn’t have 300,000 first-rated apps. It may have 300,000 apps, of which 200 or 300 (1%) are first-rated.

    2 – This is the Linux ecosystem. You don’t fool around the Linux ecosystem. It has one of the largest (if not the largest) software libraries of any operating system out there. Meanwhile, Apps are software in case you missed it when it happened.

    I don’t really understand why you seem inclined to put the iPad vs. Android in here. I mean, it’s not only irrelevant but doesn’t even work as you intended. I would have to remind you that the iPad has been losing market share to the competition compared to the dominant position it held a few years back. So those 300,000 apps… you know, might not be that important.

    This is instead an article about a new Operating System and what it may have or not to offer in terms of the ability to provide a platform for future tablet PCs. This isn’t about Apple, or Android, or Samsung, or Williams vs Renault. And definitely you don’t want to use the number of Apps argument when it comes to Linux either. It’s… man, like trying to say skyscrapers won’t be of any use because they aren’t tall enough. It’s nonsensically dumb.

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