Samsung Galaxy Nexus to get Ubuntu for Phones in February
No support yet for any other handsets, sadly
Canonical has formally confirmed that its Ubuntu for Phones operating system, designed to compete with the like of Google Android, will be available for users to try on their own phones in February this year - but there's a catch. It will only be available on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Based on the same Linux core as Canonical's desktop, laptop and server oriented Ubuntu Linux operating system, Ubuntu for Phones promises much: as well as a modern, gesture-enabled user interface for smartphones, the system allows for connection to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse to convert the smartphone into a fully-working desktop computer with access to all the same software as users find on an Ubuntu desktop. Demonstrations of the software at the launch event revealed an impressive system, and one which Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth had claimed would be available for users to test "in the coming weeks."
That vague commitment to a public launch has been firmed up by the company, with Canonical's Alan Pope confirming to OMG Ubuntu that the software will be released for public download - free of charge - some time towards the end of February 2013 as the company looks to finalise its features and ensure it is as bug-free as possible.
For those who are eager to try something other than Android on their smartphones, there is one significant catch: currently, the software only supports the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset - the same device Canonical has been using to demonstrate the software to press. Users who own a Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be able to download and install the Ubuntu for Phones software at launch, but those on other devices - including Google's popular and low-cost Nexus 4 - will have to wait for the software to be made compatible with their handsets before getting a chance to play.
With Google's Android enjoying a massive share of the smartphone market, and Apple's iOS tying up the premium end, Canonical is going to have an uphill battle ahead of it to convince users to adopt its as-yet unproven software instead.