Following up on its teaser campaign, Canonical organization head Mark Shuttleworth has announced the forthcoming debut of Ubuntu for Phones, an extension of the Ubuntu platform which will be launched in 2014. The platform will join the Ubuntu desktop software and Ubuntu One cloud storage platform as the third pillar for the popular Linux-based operating system alternative that has the goal of serving as an alternative to both Android and iOS.
At the heart of Ubuntu for phones is a different take on the now tried and developed gesture-based modal inputs used as the basis for all navigation in modern smartphones, with left, right top and bottom swipes being assigned to different aspects of the operating system.
The left edge swipe controls the app drawer with the most popular apps, the bottom swipe up controls the main control panel for the current app in use, the right swipe out controls different apps, and the top swipe down controls the settings for each aspect of the device, with top top edge swiping up hiding the settings drawer completely in order to hide the panel and reclaiming that area of the display for the app in focus.
The operating system will be focused on enterprise and consumers, with the goal being to seamlessly bridge both the device and information security expected from business use while simultaneously providing for the entertainment and application depth now expected from the general public such as gaming with full OpenGL ES support for graphics.
The goal behind Ubuntu for Phones is not to split its desktop and nascent tablet work, but to extend them seamlessly across each device type while avoiding the pitfalls of such an expansion such as Microsoft’s botched attempt to extend Windows to ARM with RT and Windows Phone 8.
More specific details will unveiled during CES next week where Canonical will have a major presence at the show while also providing members of the media and developers extended demonstrations of the initiative and platform. Currently, Canonical is seeking OEM and carrier partners in order to meet its self-imposed 2014 timeline for wide release and availability, as the platform is already supported on a preliminary level by ARM and Nvidia.