Ubuntu Tablets Arrive: Canonical Reaches Convergence for Linux-Based OS
Ubuntu tablets are here, and with them the completion of Canonical's vision of "converging" its open source, Linux-based OS across all types of devices of major computing devices.
On Thursday, Canonical announced the launch of the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet. The device is being manufactured by BQ, the European hardware vendor that has already partnered with Canonical to make Ubuntu-powered smartphones.
But Canonical is keen to emphasize that Ubuntu tablets do not just sport “a phone interface stretched to desktop size,” as CEO Jane Silber said. Rather, the tablets, like other Ubuntu mobile devices, use Canonical’s Unity interface to provide an experience that is designed to adapt automatically to any set of hardware specifications.
In the case of the tablet, adaptation means the ability to do things like detect Bluetooth keyboards and mice, then automatically switch from the mobile version of Unity to a fuller-screen desktop version so that users can use their peripheral-equipped tablet like a desktop computer. And, of course, Ubuntu-based PCs, tablets and phones all run the same stack of software, which makes for an easy app experience.
The Aquaris M10 tablet will feature a 10.1-inch screen, 7280 mAh LiPo battery and an ARM MediaTek Quad Core MT8163A to 1.5 GHz processor. It will go on sale in March. The price has yet to be announced, Silber said in a press call about the device.
Silber also made clear that Canonical is interested in working with partners on the tablet, especially service providers. “One of the core propositions of the Ubuntu OS for OEMS and operators is the ability to customize and differentiate their offerings through services,” she said.
Asked whether Canonical would welcome even a company like Microsoft — which does not have a long history of cooperation with the open source world, yet has been building many new bridges in recent years — offering services on Ubuntu tablets, Silber said yes. “We’re happy to have Office 365 there…We work closely with Microsoft. They’re a good partner.”
Is this the completion of Ubuntu convergence? In many ways, yes. Now, all the widely used form-factors support Ubuntu.
But as more types of devices enter the market, full convergence may require more work by Canonical. Silber noted that wearables, one of the new frontiers in mobile computing, are an area Canonical is already investigating. “We have done exploratory projects” on wearables, she said. “Ubuntu itself works very well on the very small form factors,” although Canonical believes more work on user interfaces is necessary.