Ubuntu tablet

The countdown timer on the Ubuntu website has ended, and Canonical has made Ubuntu for tablets official. With the tablet version, Ubuntu now scales across just about every screen and device you could imagine, from your smartphone all the way up to your television -- each with their own unique UI additions to make for a simple, yet elegant solution for your computing needs. 

Android Central at Mobile World Congress

The new tablet design is built on the very same Ubuntu core as the rest of the product line, with an emphasis on productivity and security. The new side stage multi-tasking allows for phone and tablet apps on the screen at the same time, and full encryption and secure multi-user logins are an integral part of the operating system. When added to Ubuntu's unique heads-up display, voice activated control and gesture based navigation, Ubuntu on your tablet might be the cleanest design you've ever seen.

Ubuntu on a tablet is something many of us have been wanting. With today's hardware, a full Linux distribution on a 7 or 10 inch screen is more than feasible, and it looks like we're going to get a chance to find out. On Feb 21 when Canonical releases the Ubuntu Touch preview, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 will be supported in addition to phones like the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4. Hit the break for the full press release, a product video, and the press photos.

London 19th February 2013: Canonical today presented Ubuntu’s tablet interface - the next step towards one unified family of experiences for personal computing on phones, tablets, PCs and TVs.

“Multi-tasking productivity meets elegance and rigorous security in our tablet experience,“ said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical. “Our family of interfaces now scales across all screens, so your phone can provide tablet, PC and TV experiences when you dock it. That's unique to Ubuntu and it's the future of personal computing.”

“Fashion industry friends say the Ubuntu phone and tablet are the most beautiful interfaces they’ve seen for touch” said Ivo Weevers, who leads the Canonical design team. “We’re inspired by the twin goals of style and usability, and working with developers who are motivated to create the best possible experience for friends, family and industry.”

The new tablet design doesn’t just raise the bar for elegant presentation, it breaks new ground in design and engineering, featuring:

  • Real multitasking: Uniquely, Ubuntu allows a phone app on the screen at the same time as a tablet app. The Ubuntu side stage was invented both to enable efficient multitasking and to improve the usability of phone apps on tablets.
  • Secure multi-user: Multiple accounts on one tablet with full encryption for personal data, combined with the trusted Ubuntu security model that is widely used in banks, governments and sensitive environments, making it ideal for work and family use.
  • Voice controlled HUD productivity: The Heads-Up Display, unique to Ubuntu, makes it fast and easy to do complex things on touch devices, and transforms touch interfaces for rich applications, bringing all the power of the PC to your tablet.
  • Edge magic for cleaner apps: Screen edges are used for navigation between apps, settings and controls. That makes for less clutter, more content, and sleeker hardware. No physical or soft buttons are required. It’s pure touch elegance.
  • Content focus:  Media is neatly presented on the customisable home screen, which can search hundreds of sources. Perfect for carriers and content owners that want to highlight their own content, while still providing access to a global catalogue.
  • Full convergence: The tablet interface is presented by exactly the same OS and code that provides the phone, PC and TV interfaces, enabling true device convergence. Ubuntu is uniquely designed to scale smoothly across all form factors.

The Ubuntu tablet interface supports screen sizes from 6” to 20” and resolutions from 100 to 450 PPI. “The tablet fits perfectly between phone and PC in the Ubuntu family” says Oren Horev, lead designer for the Ubuntu tablet experience. “Not only do we integrate phone apps in a distinctive way, we shift from tablet to PC very smoothly in convergence devices.”

On high end silicon, Ubuntu offers a full PC experience when the tablet is docked to a keyboard, with access to remote Windows applications over standard protocols from Microsoft, Citrix, VMWare and Wyse. “An Ubuntu tablet is a secure thin client that can be managed with the same tools as any Ubuntu server or desktop,” said Stephane Verdy, who leads enterprise desktop and thin client products at Canonical. “We are delighted to support partners on touch and mobile thin clients for the enterprise market.”

Even without chipset-specific optimisation, Ubuntu performs beautifully on entry level hardware. “Our four-year engagement with ARM has shaped Ubuntu for mobile” said Rick Spencer, VP Ubuntu Engineering at Canonical. “We benefit from the huge number of contributing developers who run Ubuntu every day, many of whom are moving to touch devices as their primary development environment.”

For silicon vendors, Ubuntu is compatible with any Linux-oriented Board Support Package (BSP). This means Ubuntu is easy to enable on most chipset designs that are currently running Android. Ubuntu and Android are the two platforms enabled by Linaro members.

The Touch Developer Preview of Ubuntu will be published on the 21st February 2013 with installation instructions for the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablet devices as well as smartphones such as the Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus. Installable images and source code will be available from developer.ubuntu.com.

The Preview SDK, which currently supports phone app development, will now be updated to support tablet apps as well. Uniquely, on Ubuntu, developers can create a single application that works on the phone, tablet, PC and TV because it is the same system and all services work across all form factors.

Visit us at Mobile World Congress: Booth Number: 81D30, App Planet Hall 8.1.

The Canonical team will be available to install Ubuntu on your phones and tablets at Mobile World Congress. Note: Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview is a developer build and not a consumer-ready release.

About Canonical and Ubuntu

Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu and the leading provider of services for Ubuntu deployments in the enterprise. With global teams of developers, support staff and engineering centres, Canonical is uniquely positioned to help partners and customers make the most of Ubuntu. It also operates Ubuntu One, a cross-platform personal cloud service  for consumers. Canonical is a privately held company.

Ubuntu is a free, open-source platform for client, server and cloud computing. It is the most widely used Linux on the top 1000 websites by traffic, the reference platform for OpenStack deployments, the most popular guest OS on public clouds, and ships on PCs from Dell, Lenovo, HP and other brands. Since its launch in 2004, it has become the preferred choice for open desktop and scale-out computing, from Fortune 500 companies to hardware makers, content providers, software developers and consumers.


Reader comments

Canonical delivers Ubuntu Touch for tablets


THAT is the real threat to Android, not iOS, or Windows Phone. If it just works half as smooth and functional as shown in the video it will make a huge impact. Guess a lot of Google Employees just got extra shifts to counter that until May.

out of all 10 million Nexus devices out there which support this probably 10k people install it to test and maybe 6-7k revert back to android. dont see any threat there

Well, Google still never produced a single tablet or phone up until today. Especially with the shift of Steam towards Ubuntu/Linux, all in one Ubuntu devices might be something Hardware Manufactures are interested.
I know this is a preview on how Ubuntu looks on devices, but they just need to convince Developers and Manufactures, not the Users (at first).

This early preview has quite some stuff standard Android still has trouble with, secure Multi User, proper Multi Tasking/Window (Samsung implemented that to Touchwiz however, but quite limited still) etc. Ok "threat" might be too harsh, as everyone thinks a "threat" means the end to other companies. I meant it more positivly, that Android just got shown how stuff could be and what is possible on these devices.

4.0 brought some long needed UI overhaul
4.1 some lag fixes, Google Now (that is pretty useless outside US)
4.2 some new quick ideas that are implemented badly (Quick Settings are no Toggles, Lockscreen widgets mostly useless etc)

With 5.0 they should focus heavily on Usability, not on gimmicks again.

Sounds like they already did. Mark seems pretty confident that people are going to develop for the Ubuntu platform, and it doesn't seem like it's going to be Windows Phone all over again.

I dont know if anyone else is noticing the trend: from single app on screen and no keyboard we are completing the circle with full multitasking and attachable keyboards - back to laptops. So, what is this tablet BS for?

Just make thin laptops with touchscreens and detachable keyboards!

Well we went from Phones with Cameras (Sony Ericsson ~2005) to a Camera with a "phone" Galaxy Camera. Funny how things develop.

This just gave me a reason to Root my Nexus 10
Is it possible to have a boot choice [like with the Touchpad when you turn it on] for the Nexus 10?
To partition the Nexus 10 for both Android & Ubuntu

This is exactly what Windows 8 should have been. This seriously looks amazing and I'll be flashing onto my Nexus 7 as soon as I can back up my 32gigs of crap!

I'm starting to get the feeling that Web OS Nation is going to be replaced with Ubuntu Central. I really hope this gets supported here in the US. Not because I'm going to use it over Android(I may though) but Google and Android needs competition with the OEMs and MS just isn't giving it to them. since Ubuntu will be free and OEMs can skin it, I can see them more willing to work with it.

That looks amazing... I often pair my N10 with a bluetooth keyboard to take notes in class, so this setup looks perfect for me. I'll definitely be giving it a try.

Concept is great.. Whether or not it pans out is a whole different matter altogether. I'll most definitely be keeping an eye on this as I run Ubuntu on my Laptop.

No matter what happens, as long as I'm required to keep my finger on the screen while choosing to launch a new app (all while trying to see through that finger), it just won't do it for me. It's just too clumsy.

You don't have to keep your finger on the menu when choosing an app to launch, but from what I got it's more of a favorites menu than an app drawer. I doubt Ubuntu phones will be 5,5" if you're going to be pulling from the top and sliding from the sides all the time.

KLP absolutely must have the real multitasking as shown here or at least as Note 2.
If it doesn't came with it, it'd be a waste

>"With the tablet version, Ubuntu now scales across just about every screen and device ..."

I disagree with that statement. Desktop Linux uses X (X11). And this does not. So it is not scaling because no Linux desktop GUI apps are going to work on it. Perhaps the name "Ubuntu" will be on many devices, and it will have some similar themes and concepts, but it is not the same thing scaling from one device to another.

It is scaling, it has slightly different interfaces for each screen size but its all the same code between the phone and tablet and desktop. The only difference between the two is which processor its compiled for and how big each display is in terms of settings in the OS. ARM Ubuntu will show a desktop interface when on something like a transformer pad, and the tablet interface when undocked. Same for x86 tablets too.

I yawned so hard I dislocated my jaw. To date, only 20 million people have cared enough about ubuntu to download it since it came out. I think canonical has about the same number of employees as one Best Buy store. They'll be lucky to get maybe 40k subpar apps in their app store. They certainly won't be hiring the top of the class grads to go work for them, they'll get the leftovers after apple, MS, and Google take their picks. Thanks but NO thanks. Sense 5.0 on Jellybean blows this away by leaps and bounds. My personal opinion of Mark Shuttleworth's appearance reflecting on the company aside (find a razor, dress more professionally and lose the stubble and hippie belt buckle dude), the Ubuntu experience doesn't look like "the future of computing" to me. It looks sloppy and unprofessional. And boring. And that keyboard... Awful.

If you think Sense 5.0 is anything but a waste of time, your opinion is clearly invalid. It's the worst copy of Windows Phone to-date. Might as well just use the crappiest Windows Phone launcher in the Play Store. Better result.

Forgive my language..

Aww shit. Can't wait until this goes open source or able to install on any device you can through developers. I have an archos g9 80, and would definitely want to try it out there.

Ubuntu for tablets and phones looks great. Canonical has done an exceptional job with marketing and I for one, beleive it's time that Mobile Nations dumps WebOS and replaces it with Ubuntu. Unlike FireFox OS, Ubuntu will actually have success.