Ubuntu Phone OS Revealed: Take A Virtual Tour Of Canonical’s Open-Source Smartphone Operating System [PHOTOS]

on January 03 2013 1:59 PM
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    The home screen for the Ubuntu mobile OS. Just don’t call it a “lock screen.” Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    A close-up of Ubuntu’s “welcome screen.” Alerts show up very subtly and the design constantly changes, making the experience feel very unique and personal. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    According to Canonical, the “welcome screen” on the Ubuntu phone OS is designed to be a visual representation of you. The art will evolve in various ways depending on how you use your phone. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    The Ubuntu phone is bigger than a man! Okay, maybe not… Here, you see a tile of apps appear on the left side of the screen. Canonical designed the Ubuntu OS so swiping from every edge of the screen has its own specific purpose. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    When you swipe from the left, all of your Favorite Apps appear. There’s no limit to how many apps you can place in this toolbar. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    A close-up of the app bar in Ubuntu’s phone OS. You can see all of the apps without unlocking the phone or having to visit a home screen first; to use any of the apps, a button at the bottom of the row of apps allows you to unlock your phone. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    The home screen automatically shows your recently-used applications, by default. Users can still customize the rest of their home screens in any way they want, filling it with recent missed calls, favorite contacts, music, search results, apps, and more. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    Need to search for something? Just swipe down from the top of the screen and start typing. The search function on Ubuntu for smartphones is very intelligent, searching across your phone, the Internet, and the cloud, all at once. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    Want to go shopping? Search makes that easy, too. The function shows you everything possibly related to your search request across all types of multimedia: In this example, a search for “Tolkien” pulls up books, movie tickets and relevant videos to download related to J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous novels. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    Navigating through apps is easy. Just swipe across your screen to visit important pages within every app. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    On the app screen in Ubuntu, you can see apps you’ve already installed… Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    …But by scrolling down, you can see applications that are now available to download. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    Ubuntu has two different categories of apps: Web apps, which are based in HTML 5, and native apps for Ubuntu, which are significantly faster and more powerful. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    Most of your basic phone controls aren’t located in a separate application, like they are in Android and iOS. In Ubuntu, simply tap the top of the screen once and swipe left and right to view various controls like clocks, sounds, email, cell service, and more. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    Canonical offers its own voice assistant, similar to Siri on iOS or Google’s Voice Search. With one simple tap, you can speak what you want and the phone will find what you’re looking for, bringing up results from the Web, your phone and the cloud. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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    Speaking of cloud services, Ubuntu on the smartphone is integrated with Canonical’s cloud-based service, Ubuntu One, which can back up all of your music, contacts, apps, and more to the cloud. Courtesy/Ubuntu.com
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The smartphone market is as dynamic and competitive as ever, but London-based software developer Canonical believes disruptive elements can still win, even next to today’s dominant devices powered by Android and iOS.

On Thursday, Canonical unwrapped its Linux-based Ubuntu OS for smartphones, which aims to provide familiarity for desktop users of Ubuntu, but also introduce other users to an entirely new mobile experience different from what Apple or Google currently offer.

The best way to introduce you to Ubuntu’s phone OS is to show it to you. In this slideshow, we’ll take you on a tour through the Ubuntu smartphone experience, which will give you an idea of how the operating system looks, feels and performs. Check out the photos from Canonical’s video demo in the gallery above.

Canonical introduced its intentions to enter the mobile arena of smartphones and tablets at the 2011 Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, Fla.

“This is a natural expansion of our idea as Ubuntu as Linux for human beings,” said Canonical founder Mark Shuttlesworth at the event. “As people have moved from desktop to new form factors for computing, it's important for us to reach out to our community on these platforms. So, we'll embrace the challenge of how to use Ubuntu on smartphones, tablets and smart-screens.”

In porting the desktop experience to smartphones and tablets, Canonical needed to figure out how to export Unity, the company’s GNOME-based desktop software, to mobile devices.

“Unity has a strong design vision and part of that is to provide coherent screens across platforms,” Shuttlesworth said. “While it's not one-size-fits-all, a common design is vital to it. Nothing is cast in stone. Still, since Unity on the desktop is part of a greater whole, we look at the experience as a whole. We want a consistent platform with a tightly structured user experience.”

Shuttlesworth, who backs Ubuntu with his own money, says that Apple and Google will be formidable opponents in the mobile arena.

“We will embrace phones and tablets and also smart screens-whether they're smart TVs or monitors or touch devices,” Shuttlesworth said. “That's a fairly radically broadened scope for the work we do with Ubuntu now.”

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