Year and a half ago, Mark Shuttleworth surprised all and sundry with an ambitious ad : Ubuntu would support smartphones, tablets and even TVs in 2014. In all this time Canonical developers have been strengthening their steps to achieve this goal, and presented a cornerstone of the project:Ubuntu on tablets , the version of Canonical’s Linux distribution aimed at tablets.
This version inherits many of the features of Ubuntu for phones , announced so early 2013 and laid the groundwork for what would be running Ubuntu on mobile devices. Actually this development and tablets have spent a lot of similarities, but also confirm that the current Ubuntu desktop interface with no apparent problems can be adapted to different device formats .
A perfect experience for tablets
Since it made its appearance in Unity Ubuntu in 2010 (although at that time it did in the Netbook Remix edition, not with its current name) seemed Canonical intentions guess: its different components (the pitcher, his dock, etc) seemed prepared not only to face a new stage on the desktop, but also to do so in a segment by Canonical unexplored: that of touch interface devices .
That was demonstrated later when after consolidation of Unity as desktop interface (always supported by GNOME 3) both made the leap to Ubuntu for phones like the recently announced Ubuntu on tablets.In both cases we find that the versatility that Canonical has implanted in the base has served to allow that interface perfectly suits a different formats. In fact, Canonical says Ubuntu on tablets is ready to run on screens that can range from 6 to 20 inches and can reach densities of 450 pixels per inch.
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As was the version for smartphones, tablets on Ubuntu maintains many of the visual benefits that were introduced as a lock screen that also serves as an information window to various notifications, or a taste for maximized applications , critical in smartphones and even in tablets but was not as clear for PCs and laptops when Unity began its journey.
For Ubuntu on tablets, however, we find a fundamental difference from the version for smartphones. Side Stage This is a feature that allows two windows simultaneously arranged so that one of them takes only a strip of the total space available on the screen. The concept is very similar to what Microsoft provides with Windows 8 and popularized in Microsoft Surface tablets RT and Pro , and is particularly useful to take advantage of that larger work surface enjoyed by users tablets.
Another feature of interest inherited from their parent distribution, Ubuntu, is the fact that the user accounts are resolved series: each device can be used by multiple users , each with their own applications, documents and visual preferences in demonstrate that the experience of Linux systems is a major asset in this regard. So, we will always have at our disposal a guest account to leave our tablet with Ubuntu to an acquaintance without fear of spoiling something in our user account.
Canonical have also paid attention to the social section, and Ubuntu on tablets features a new menu for sharing that allows us to publish all that we enjoy in the tablet easily through a simple gesture: when you drag your finger from the lower right corner you will see a menu which will give us several options to share what we are seeing on screen with our contacts in networks like Facebook or Twitter.
Applications in Ubuntu on tablets
As was the case for phones with Ubuntu, Canonical has confirmed that tablets can run Ubuntu on both HTML5 applications as native applications with an SDK that is specifically targeted at developers who want to start testing your ideas on this platform. The problem, some may wonder, is whether it would be necessary to develop the same application for different device formats. Fortunately Canonical had this planned, and that will be one of the attractions for developers.
So, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical, said at the launch of Ubuntu on tablets yesterday following:
Developers can publish a single binary of an application which in itself may be valid for multiple device types. Thus, they can write a single application that serves for a phone, a tablet, a PC or a TV, and that application will tell the system what types of devices accept and submit the appropriate interface for this application for each.
All these applications will benefit from this commitment to the content that was already one of the distinguishing features of Ubuntu for phones and so will be in Ubuntu on tablets. touch gestures to access different sections of an application or operating system will also be available in this edition of Ubuntu, and for example a swipe from the left side of the screen the famous Dock of Unity and his equally known pitcher, from which we can perform unified searches both device and web services associated.
Will your next PC be a tablet?
That chameleon property Ubuntu on Ubuntu for tablets and phones that allows them to become unique thin clients will undoubtedly be one of its most interesting features of this overall project future unification. We saw in Ubuntu for phones (and before, in Ubuntu for Android ), which showed Canonical as a smartphone connected to a dock could be a desktop PC with which to work and enjoy digital entertainment in a completely normal.
The same applies to Ubuntu on tablets, that will enable its users to convert the tablet into a desktop PC (and by extension, laptops) with the ability to expand with these devices: to connect Bluetooth keyboards and mice these tablets and to enable its video output to connect to large monitors achieve moving the tablet experience these monitors, enjoying a traditional Ubuntu desktop with all its advantages.
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Although the power of these devices will be lower than laptops or desktop PCs conventional, modern smartphones and tablets will have no problem in providing needed for common tasks such as web browsing, writing documents or enjoyment of multimedia content. We may not be able to do 3D animation or intensive applications work with video editing, but the vast majority of needs will be covered .
Double bet on Hardware
In this regard and as happens also in the version for smartphones, Canonical has offered some guidelines on what it will be necessary for the hardware devices can leverage these platforms. In the case of tablets have, as in the phones, two ranges of device .
First, the consumer range, which will require at least a processor ARM Cortex A15 dual-core, at least 2 GB of memory, 8 GB of almacenaminto and a screen size of 7 to 10 inches, plus support multitouch 4 fingers. This first device division has a major drawback: no full convergence with the desktop(but not by the use of ARM , but by power) and therefore we will have a situation similar (if not identical) to which Microsoft has Microsoft Surface now with RT.
The second is the high end, which gives us the possibility of a processor from ARM quad-core A15 or an Intel x86, although in the latter case not produce new data. Also mentioned at least 4 GB of memory and at least 8 GB of storage, and even screen sizes and multitouch support may be somewhat different, the important thing here is that we will achieve that sought total convergence with the desktop. Or what is the same: the packages available for Ubuntu yet work just fine in those versions of Ubuntu on tablets.
What distinctions does this concept with managed by Microsoft with Windows 8? This is what Shuttleworth explained yesterday, indicating that the difference of the proposed Canonical regarding Microsoft’s is that Ubuntu on tablets will not force a change uncomfortable when users change device format.
The transition into the platform designed by Canonical is minimal. As the creator of Ubuntu said :
When you make the transition from tablet to desktop, things do not change places . Your indicators, things like network status or time, do not go to another place on the screen, remain where they were.
First Conclusions and Release dates Ubuntu on tablets
During the press conference said Shuttleworth also clarified the news that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in which seemed to say that the first devices with Ubuntu for phones would be available in October . Actually what is available is Ubuntu 13.10 , which will combine the Ubuntu code for smartphones and laptops in a unified version.
In fact, people who have compatible terminals such as the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4 may install Ubuntu 13.10 when it appears in October, but Shuttleworth does not expect Ubuntu terminal operators submit to the first quarter of 2014 . ” The operators are going to take a little more time to have these devices in connectivity tests and bring them to market , “said clarifying that point.
While the mobile version will be unified with the desktop in Ubuntu 13.10, the integration with version for tablets will not arrive until Ubuntu 4.14 will appear in April 2014, but if all goes really well, those plans could be accelerated. Shuttleworth said he has had discussions with several manufacturers and operators in North America, Europe and China to launch devices, but did not specify anything about possible agreements or specific names.
With this information, you may not find tablets with Ubuntu preinstalled appear until well into 2014, but what is certain is that from tomorrow even need these tablets: the Touch Developer Preview that Canonical plans to publish throughout Thursday will allow developers and users to install Ubuntu on tablet and begin to understand a project is particularly ambitious and could be a dramatic step forward for a Linux distribution like Ubuntu.
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