Friday, February 08, 2013

First Ubuntu for Android handsets to be released in October

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth confirmed on Wednesday that the first smartphones running Ubuntu for Android will appear in October. When the platform was officially introduced in early January, Shuttleworth said devices might take until Q4 or early 2013 to appear.

As the company previously announced, developers will get a preview of Ubuntu for Android via a file which can be installed on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone, replacing the device's default Android build. Since the Galaxy Nexus is no longer Google's developer phone -- the Nexus 4, still in short supply, is -- one has to wonder when Canonical and if will release a build for that phone.

Ubuntu for Android apps can be written as a single app for both the desktop and the smartphone. This will allows users to easily move between devices.

Shuttleworth said the new operating system will be available in "two large geographic markets" in October. It's unclear what that means, as he didn't elaborate further. He did add -- as BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins did recently -- that North America is a “absolutely a key market for Ubuntu.”

However, Heins noted that U.S. carriers have rigorous testing procedures and requirements.  It's for  that reason, he noted, that the BlackBerry Z10's introduction in the U.S. market is trailing that of, say, the U.K. and other countries.  It would be understandable if Ubuntu handsets faced the same sorts of issues.

Shuttleworth also didn't elaborate on carriers or OEMs, although he did say a number of carriers are interested. Notably, Samsung has already expressed an interest in alternative OSes, as it has confirmed a Tizen (another Linux-based platform) handset is coming, in 2013, no less. Samsung already produces Windows Phone and Android handsets, along with handsets based on Bada, its own platform.

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