Canonical Unveils Ubuntu on Tablets

Yesterday, Ubuntu.com displayed a time counter for an announcement reading “Tic Toc Tablet Time” that ended being about Ubuntu on Tablets, and not an HTC Tablet running Ubuntu as some blogs speculated, as both companies had a timer counter set to expire at the same time for separate, and unrelated, announcements.

Ubuntu_on_TabletsThe interface looks very much like Ubuntu for Phones with a similar “Welcome Screen”, except multiple users are supported, no icons (except for apps), and you can swipe around the 4 edges to access the dash, opened applications, notifications, and more. Canonical highlights 5 key features for Ubuntu on Tablets:

  • Real multitasking – Run mobile and tablet apps at the same time on the same screen
  • Secure multi-user
  • Voice controlled HUD productivity
  • Edge magic for cleaner apps – As I said previously no buttons, you control eveything from the edges.
  • Content focus – Messages and media are easily accessible from  the Welcome screen.

Canonical also disclosed the hardware requirements for potential partners, and the company clearly redefines what low-end tablet means…

Entry level consumer Ubuntu tabletHigh-end Ubuntu enterprise tablet
Processor architectureDual-core Cortex A15Quad-core A15 or Intel x86
Memory2GB preferred4GB preferred
Flash storage8GB minimum8GB minimum
Screen size7-10 inch10-12 inch
Multi-touch4 fingers4-10 fingers
Full desktop convergenceNoYes

This is not completely unexpected, but still disappointing, as that means that most tablets sold today may not be able to run Ubuntu on Tablets optimally, or maybe even not run at all. If you want desktop convergence, it’s simple, there’s currently no existing ARM hardware that supports Ubuntu for Tablet requirements, except possibly some (undisclosed) Exynos 5 Octa development boards.

Marc Shuttleworth gave a short 6 minutes introduction to Ubuntu on Tablets, and as for the phone version, I really like the user interface Canonical came up with.

App development will be similar to Ubuntu for Phone, with support for both Web/HTML5 apps and native apps written using QML/Javascript/C++ in Eclipse giving access to OpenGLES runtime. Visit Ubuntu Tablet App Ecosystem page for details, and on the 21st of February, you’ll be able to download the Touch Developer Preview to develop apps specific to Tablets, and try it on your Nexus 7 (Tegra 3 with 1GB RAM) or Nexus 10 (Exynos 5250 with 2GB RAM) tablet.

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