Back in November, it was announced that Ubuntu would be coming to Android phones. The app would allow any Android phone to be turned into a mini-PC when plugged into a monitor. Now the makers of Ubuntu are taking it one step further by bringing the Linux distribution directly to smartphones.
Canonical announced that it's currently working on bringing Ubuntu to smartphones in the next year. The phones will be on hand at CES next week, and will be released before the end of the year. Much like Firefox OS, Ubuntu for smartphones will be available across a wide array of devices, including cheaper entry level devices. Canonical promises, however, that the experience will offer a great experience on any hardware.
As for developers, they can look forward to being able to develop Ubuntu apps for both desktop and smartphones. Here's the details from the Canonical Blog:
By using the new QML-based Ubuntu SDK, it’s possible to develop a native app in such a way that makes it available for both the desktop and the phone – not to mention any further form factors we address in the future. As long as you create the right interfaces, you can deliver an app for all Ubuntu form factors, but build once and upload once to the same single store, the Ubuntu Software Centre. It’s this point that I hope really enthuses the developers in the Ubuntu community – not to mention all those developers around the world who work on the web or in mobile and who already use Ubuntu on their desktops.
Ubuntu for smartphones has the potential to do what Mozilla is attempting to do with Firefox OS and then some. The entry level smartphone market needs a shakeup as iPhones are still too expensive for some territories and Android OEMs seem to be abandoning that market for the high end device spectrum dominated by the Galaxy S III and Nexus 4. There's room for Ubuntu to grow on these lower end devices if the price is right.
On high end devices, the potential is even greater. Canonical is promising that Ubuntu for high end smartphones will double as a portable PC. All you have to do is plug the device into a monitor and you'll have a fully functional Ubuntu PC in seconds. Ubuntu for Android can do the same thing, but a native Ubuntu smartphone will most assuredly offer some bonus perks for those using its desktop application.
There's no word on which OEMs will back Ubuntu, but Canonical says that any OEM that currently makes Android phones will have no problem in bringing an Ubuntu phone to market. The mobile OS runs on both ARM and Intel x86 architectures so there's no need to design new hardware for it.
Any developers wishing to get started on developing mobile apps for Ubuntu smartphones will want to check out the support site. Ubuntu Mobile will support both native and HTML5 apps.