Ubuntu Touch – Developer Preview

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Ubuntu TouchI haven’t been excited about a mobile OS since Android 4 (which later dissappointed me, but that is another story). But I have to say that I am excited about Ubuntu Touch.

Ubuntu Touch excites me for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is simply how open it is. Under the touch optimized UI, it is basically Ubuntu. This makes the device very powerful as more than the word mobile has come to imply.

The UI is very impressive. It is remincent of WebOS in a lot of ways, and I hope they incorporate more of the gesture based interaction.

I spent some time over the last week with Ubuntu Touch on my Nexus 7. The focus of development right now if on the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 devices, but the Nexus 7 was remarkably quick and fairly complete for being an early developer preview.

Installation of Ubuntu Touch is remarkably simple from an Ubuntu desktop system. It is remarkably well documented on the Ubuntu website. Basically it consists of dumping a few development apps on you desktop system, root the device, and push the OS onto the device. From start to finish it took about 20 minutes.

Want to go back to Android on the device? No problem, they give you instructions on doing that too.

2013-06-28 16.01.18The OS is a developer preview and as such there are a number of things not fully functional and the edges are still a little rough. That being said, updates come out daily and are equally as simple to install. And the pace of development is a bit stunning.

I recorded a podcast with Jono Bacon today (goes live next Wednesday on the BDConf site), and he said that they are shooting for a beta release in October. Based on the pace of improvements I don’t see this date being missed.

Ubuntu Touch definitely has some legs as carriers and manufactures are looking for options other than iOS and Android. Ubuntu has setup an Carrier Advisory Board for carriers to provide early input and they have a fairly representative group of carriers on board already. In typical fashion, however, their are no U.S. Carriers that have commited yet. (Update: Mark Shuttleworth just announced that a U.S. carrier will be joining the advisory group as I am about to publish this.)

This is definitely a project I will be watching closely.