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Jono Bacon: Announcing Ubuntu For Phones

Published Jan 2 2013 via RSS


Today we announced the Ubuntu for phones platform.

This is the culmination of an extensive period of work, and pushing Ubuntu another step further in building a consistent, elegant, beautiful Operating System and experience across the desktop, cloud, and devices.

The design and implementation of the phone is beautiful. You can immediately tell it is Ubuntu; the Unity mobile experience looks clean and consistent with the desktop and touch is stunningly integrated. The Ubuntu for phones experience is designed to make all your phone content easier to access and your apps more immersive – every edge has a specific purpose, making all your apps, content and controls instantly accessible, without navigating back to the home screen every time. It’s a uniquely, beautifully converged experience.


Ubuntu, clean and consistent across mobile and desktop.

Ubuntu for phones is not just limited to just the Operating System on the phone screen itself. Ubuntu also has the technology, as demonstrated with Ubuntu For Android, to boot a full Ubuntu desktop from the phone when it is docked with a screen. This provides a complete Ubuntu experience in your pocket, for both your phone and your desktop, with a clean consistent look across both screens, and with all your content available on your phone and desktop using Ubuntu One. This is revolutionary.

To be quite clear, this announcement is not for a physical Ubuntu Phone that you can purchase yet. The announcement is for the Ubuntu for phones platform that we are presenting to handset operators and OEMs as a solution that they can bring to market. The Ubuntu phone offers great performance on handsets with a low bill of materials, while opening up new opportunities for phone and PC convergence at the top end of the market. This is no mockup or flash demo though; this is a real platform, and you have to see it in action…it really is stunning.

As part of this work we will have an extensive presence at the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas. We will be exhibiting there, demoing Ubuntu for phones and in meetings with OEMs and operators to get this baby in your pocket as soon possible. I will be presenting at the booth for the week too, and I will be discussing the new developer platform that is part of Ubuntu for phones.

For Developers

So that neatly leads me to developers.

The Ubuntu for phones platform does not just present a fantastic integrated phone experience, but we have also been working on a powerful developer platform to make building apps for the phone simple, powerful and fun.

The phone platform supports applications written in QML, HTML5, and OpenGL.

We have been working on an SDK with a special set of phone components (think widgets and other UI elements) that run on top of QML and Qt, and the applications look and feel as beautiful as the rest of the phone platform. Also remember that Ubuntu has great support built in for web apps, which means that taking a web app and building a native phone (or desktop) experience is a piece of cake. Oh, and all those scopes in the Ubuntu desktop, well, they map neatly to the other devices such as TV and now phone too. This is what Unity is all about: a unified experience across all your screens.

This means that developers have choice in how they build their apps and don’t have the overhead of the Java virtual machine when writing and deploying their apps. All in all, Ubuntu for phones offers an awesome developer platform.

Now, the SDK is still very much in active development, but today we are also releasing a developer preview. This preview includes the new Qt 5 which was recently released, as well as the QML Phone Components, and we have a full tutorial that shows you how to get started building a QML app for the phone.

Get Involved

As part of this work, we want to build an awesome library of applications that will run out of the box when a operator/OEM delivers Ubuntu on their handsets. As such, we are keen to work with our community to build out this library of apps, and we are looking to you lovely people to help!

If you have Qt/QML programming experience (or can get up to speed with the platform) and would like to help build these apps that will ship with an Ubuntu phone, we would love you to join us! Simply head over to the developer.ubuntu.com phone page and fill in the form. We will then get in touch with you over the coming weeks.

This work will have full support from the design team to help with the design and layout of the apps, and we will also have mentoring and project management to ensure everyone who participates enjoys helping with this wider effort. This is a great way to help get the Ubuntu phone in front of millions of users.


2013 is off to a wonderful start for Ubuntu and continued spread and growth of Open Source and Free Software. Let’s make this year count. Fire up your engines. :-)

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