Canonical, the developers of Ubuntu, are teasing what could be a new touch-based version of the operating system on its website. The teaser has a countdown and the tagline “So close, you can almost touch it.” This could refer to the recently announced Android version of Ubuntu. It could also hint towards a new version of Ubuntu that is compatible with the newer touch-enabled Windows 8 computers.
The most likely outcome at the end of the countdown would be the release of an operating system that is compatible with touchscreen computers. While a version of Ubuntu made especially for Android devices is in the works, the company has not announced which devices would be compatible with it. Despite this, many hackers on the XDA Developers forums have successfully ported Ubuntu onto Android devices, but the lack of a touch-oriented interface greatly hinders its effectiveness on phones and tablets.
Ubuntu is teasing something touch-based.
Back in October, it was revealed that Canonical is planning on porting Ubuntu to mobile phones in 2014. This move is possible thanks to the relatively-touch friendly Unity UI featured in newer Ubuntu builds.
To compete against the current powerhouses of mobile OS', Canonical is planning on unique features such as shipping different versions of the OS to each device, but giving users the ability to switch between them at will. This leads to interesting ideas such as letting users turn their tablet OS into a full-blown desktop OS.
While the company will allow users to download the Ubuntu build of their choice from the official website, it is also planning to team up with OEMs to get products with Ubuntu out-of-the-box. This would also allow Linux to get better exposure in the world.
The company also revealed the existence of a phone and a tablet that run on Ubuntu with a touch-friendly Unity UI during a Q&A on Slashdot. While Ubuntu Foundation founder Mark Shuttleworth didn't want to make any pre-announcements at the time, he did mention that the phone and tablet were key stories the company needed to tell with version 14.04 of the OS.
Shuttleworth also talked about the touch-oriented direction that Canonical took with Unity. He said, “Unity positions itself to be *ready* for touch-only platforms like the tablet and phone, but the desktop flavour of Unity is optimised for the desktop. That's why we have such great support for keyboard navigation and hotkeys, why we have menus and indicators that you really need a mouse and keyboard to use. Yes, we have big app icons. But so have some desktop shells for 15 years (before the NextStep Dock, even).”
Canonical released the latest version of Ubuntu, 12.10, mere days before the launch of Windows 8. Ubuntu veterans would find little to no differences 12.10 and the previous release, 12.04, except for the new HUD. The key differences between the old and new version include bug fixes and patches for existing packages found in Ubuntu 12.04. A new Linux kernel, version 3.5.0-17, is also in use with the new operating system.
You can read our review of Ubuntu 12.10 here.
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