Canonical Moves One Step Closer to Mobile, TV Computing
It’s official: Canonical’s foray into the world of phones, tablets and even TVs has begun. Or at least, that’s what the introduction of formal development channels for these categories suggests. Here’s the latest, and what it says about Ubuntu’s future.
It’s been pretty clear for a while that Canonical was steering Ubuntu in the direction of portable devices; hence, its focus on the uTouch library for improving touchscreen support on Linux beginning back in 2010 and the introduction of the Unity interface, which aims to cater to screens of all sizes and touchabilities.
Yet it has been only during the current Ubuntu development cycle that Canonical representatives have begun speaking more specifically about plans for what could be the open source channel’s next great frontier. The latest UDS last month was peppered with panels on mobile devices, and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth discussed the path forward at his keynote address during the meeting.
There, Shuttleworth told the audience pretty plainly that while Ubuntu is already widespread on desktops, “The future does not just belong to the desktop. The future belongs to an array of small screens,” including but not necessarily limited to phones, tablets and televisions.
Canonical has begun placing concrete action behind the hype, forming mailing lists on Launchpad to help developers bring Ubuntu to each of the three main categories of mobile devices (tablets, phones and TVs) outlined previously.
So far there’s been little action on the lists besides some friendly hellos and introductions, but they’ll be an area to watch going forward to see what specifically Canonical plans to do on these new types of hardware — at least insofar as it’s willing to discuss the initiatives publicly.
It will also be interesting to see how third-party programmers might react to these developments and become involved in the nascent projects.
Granted, creating a mailing list is a far cry from pushing out a product, and for the time being, the future face of Ubuntu on your tablet, phone or TV remains very loosely defined. But we can expect these things to take time; after all, Shuttleworth laid out a two-year span for developing these new initiatives. The important point of note is that it’s becoming more and more certain that Canonical is serious about trying to go where no desktop Linux vendor has gone before (at least successfully), into the world of portable, touchscreen and TV-based computing.
And for what it’s worth, it’s also becoming clearer and clearer why Unity looks the way it does. Perhaps it will all make sense in the end.