Canonical has announced a new version of Ubuntu that is aimed at the smartphone and built around existing Android kernels and drivers, reported The Verge. The mobile OS will support both ARM and x86 and is said to be very easy for OEMs to adapt on their Android devices. The main difference between Ubuntu and other versions of Android is that Java Virtual Machine is not being utilized. According to the folks at Canonical, this is said to let “all core applications run at full native speeds with a small memory footprint.”
Ubuntu phones are expected to be shipping in early 2014, according to Canonical, while the device is being demoed today at a media event in London (as seen above). Additionally, downloadable versions of Ubuntu are expected in the coming weeks for the Galaxy Nexus to let developers begin tinkering. An app marketplace is in the works, as more devices will be added in the coming months.
Canonical has detailed the system requirements for smartphones running Ubuntu. The “entry level” Ubuntu device is expected to run a 1GHz Cortex A9 processor, 512MB – 1GB of RAM, 4-8GB eMMC + SD, and a multi-touch display. The high-end Ubuntu “superphone” calls for a Quad-core A9 or Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM minimum, multitouch, and desktop convergence. The desktop convergence part certainly sounds interesting, as Canonical called it a “a full PC desktop accessible just by docking the device to a monitor and keyboard.”
An initial hands-on report from Engadget said the OS relies on heavy edge swipes instead of buttons, much like Windows 8. Canonical will showcase the devices even more at CES 2013 next week, and we’ll definitely take them for a spin. In the mean time, you’ll find a gallery of Ubuntu running below.