Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mark Shuttleworth announced the end of Ubuntu Phones!

Last few months weren't exciting for Ubuntu Touch and now Mark Shuttleworth announced the END of it. Being a Ubuntu lover and hoping all these months for a Ubuntu Phone availability in my country, this comes as a shock for me. And for others too! 

In a blog post, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced the end of Unity 8 (yes, another shocking thing), Ubuntu Phone and Convergence. He pointed out that the Ubuntu desktop will remain their top priority, and other areas where the investment will continue will be servers, VMs, cloud infrastructure and IoT story in snaps and Ubuntu Core. 

He mentions : 

The choice, ultimately, is to invest in the areas which are contributing to the growth of the company. 

Canonical had tried earlier for a fund raising for Ubuntu phones but failed to reach the target. However, they were able to get support from some of the manufacturers like Meizu and BQ and there were ports to several phones inluding OnePlus and Nexus 5. There was not much in development for the Touch with no updates from quite a while. However, no one expected a sudden shut down of the Ubuntu Phones. 

Also, along with Ubuntu Phones Convergence is also shutting down. He wrote in the blog post : 

I took the view that, if convergence was the future and we could deliver it as free software, that would be widely appreciated both in the free software community and in the technology industry, where there is substantial frustration with the existing, closed, alternatives available to manufacturers. I was wrong on both counts.
In the community, our efforts were seen fragmentation not innovation. And industry has not rallied to the possibility, instead taking a ‘better the devil you know’ approach to those form factors, or investing in home-grown platforms.

Personally, the "No More Ubuntu Phones" is heart breaking for me. And if you are reading this, perhaps you are in the same category!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Canonical wins the award for Convergence

Convergence was an idea from Canonical where it tried to create a single software platform that runs for Smartphones, Tablets and PCs. Though, there were some Ubuntu Phones launched supporting convergence, they didn't really pick up the pace. Microsoft tried the same thing through Continuum but then again, the failing of Windows Phone platform didn't help it either. However, in an attempt to create an OS than can serve many devices be it a handheld or a desktop, Canonical wins the race from Microsoft.

In the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2017, Canonical has been awarded the Orange Outstanding Achievement award for the conveged computing and digital openness. The Orange Device Partner Awards recognises the contribution in smartphone revolution and has awarded it to the Canonical this year.

In a blog post, Canonical announced the award :

Canonical announced today it was awarded the Orange Outstanding achievement for converged computing & digital openness at the Orange Device Partner Awards ceremony. With 25 awards over four categories, the Orange Device Partner Awards celebrates the 10th anniversary of the smartphone and aims to recognize individuals and organisations across the telecoms industry that have contributed to the smartphone revolution.

Since there isn't anything new in the Ubuntu Phone section these days, and neither we are going to see a new Smartphone running Ubuntu, it will take some more time before we can judge if Convergence is a great thing! If you want to see how convergence works, watch the below video:

As an Ubuntu lover, I am very much hopeful that Canonical comes up with some more smartphones and a better app section. Things like convergence only matters if your smartphone can work the basic things. What do you think, is this gonna work as a motivation to Canonical to pace things up? Let us know in the comments.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 rolled out for Phones and Tablets

If you own a Ubuntu device, here's some news for you. Ubuntu Touch OTA - 15 has been officially rolled out to all Ubuntu phones and Tablets after not much development for the mobile OS from Canonical in past few months. If you are expecting some major changes in the Over the Air update, you will be disappointed. The OTA-15 includes small hot fix for the 3 issues reported since OTA-14 and update for oxide-qt web browser engine removing some security flaws. 

The device supported for OTA-15 includes BQ Aquaris E4.5, BQ Aquaris E5, BQ Aquaris M10, BQ Aquaris M10 HD, Meizu Pro 5, Meizu MX4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 7. 

Canonical started the Ubuntu touch Mobile platform and partnered with BQ and Meizu to release some devices. Along the way, there were various ports to Nexus and OnePlus devices too. With time though, the development slowed down. Canonical has confirmed that they will not stop developing the OS and Ubuntu devices will keep on getting over the air updates. However, there won't be major changes since Canonical wants to patch only critical bugs and fix security issues along with polishing the OS. 

If you want to try the Ubuntu Touch, you can install Ubuntu touch emulator in a Linux system

Do you think Ubuntu OS will meet the same fate as Firefox OS or has a future? Let us know in the comments. 

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Installing Ubuntu touch emulator in Linux

I'm still waiting for an Ubuntu phone release in India after Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition went out of store in a day before I could buy. So, I tried my hands in installing Ubuntu Touch Emulator in Linux to try out how the OS works and to get familiar with Scopes and Softwares. The below steps to install Ubuntu touch emulator in Linux has been tried on Linux Ubuntu 16.04 running as the primary OS on a Lenovo hardware. 

Steps to install Ubuntu touch emulator 

1. Open terminal and type the following command :

sudo apt install ubuntu-emulator

It will ask for your root password and the packages will be downloaded and installled. Wait for the download to finish.

sieger@sieger1604:~$ sudo apt install ubuntu-emulator
[sudo] password for sieger: 
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following additional packages will be installed:
  android-tools-adb binfmt-support libboost-random1.58.0 libboost-thread1.58.0 libiscsi2 librados2
  librbd1 qemu-block-extra qemu-user-static qemu-utils sharutils ubuntu-emulator-runtime:i386
Suggested packages:
  debootstrap bsd-mailx | mailx
The following NEW packages will be installed
  android-tools-adb binfmt-support libboost-random1.58.0 libboost-thread1.58.0 libiscsi2 librados2
  librbd1 qemu-block-extra qemu-user-static qemu-utils sharutils ubuntu-emulator
0 to upgrade, 13 to newly install, 0 to remove and 0 not to upgrade.
Need to get 23.4 MB/23.4 MB of archives.
After this operation, 153 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] y

Once the packages are installed, you will have to create an instance for Ubuntu Touch Emulator. Type the following command in terminal:

sudo ubuntu-emulator create myinstance

where myinstance is the instance name. You can name it anything you want.

sieger@sieger1604:~$ sudo ubuntu-emulator create myinstance
Creating "myinstance" from ubuntu-touch/devel revision 2
2.25 MB / 2.25 MB [==========================================================] 100.00 % 364.73 KB/s 
41.52 MB / 41.52 MB [========================================================] 100.00 % 984.67 KB/s 
352.92 MB / 352.92 MB [========================================================] 100.00 % 1.81 MB/s 
Setting up...
Setting up a default password for phablet to: '0000'
Creating snapshots for disks...
Succesfully created emulator instance myinstance in /home/sieger/.local/share/ubuntu-emulator/myinstance

The myinstance instance has been successfully created. Once you are done, you can run this instance from the terminal by typing the following command:

sieger@sieger1604:~$ ubuntu-emulator run myinstance
emulator: autoconfig: -datadir /home/sieger/.local/share/ubuntu-emulator/myinstance
emulator: Found target ABI=x86, architecture=x86
emulator: Found target API level: 19
emulator: using core hw config path: /home/sieger/.local/share/ubuntu-emulator/myinstance/hardware-qemu.ini
emulator: writing default keyset file to /home/sieger/.android/default.keyset
emulator: trying to load skin file '/usr/share/ubuntu-emulator/skins/EDGE/layout'
emulator: skin network speed: 'full'
emulator: skin network delay: 'none'
emulator: Using initial system image: /home/sieger/.local/share/ubuntu-emulator/myinstance/system.img
emulator: autoconfig: -initdata (null)
emulator: WARNING: no Real SD Card found at '/home/sieger/.local/share/ubuntu-emulator/myinstance/sdcardprime.img'
emulator: Physical RAM size: 512MB

This will take some time and a mobile interface will open up. It will take some more time before the screen appears. 

Once the screen lightens up welcoming you, you will be asked a few questions before the homescreen comes. Choose the languages and how you want to unlock your phone. Swipe is for no password, passcode which contains only digits and passphrase which is a mix of digits and letters. In the next step, choose the passcode. Connect to Wi-Fi in the next step. Clicking one or two more Continue will end up teh first time boot process and homescreen comes up. 

You can unlock the phone and try out the various features. 

Let me know in the comments if you face any problem in installing Ubuntu touch emulator in Linux Ubuntu system. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Ubuntu Touch OTA 13 Rolled Out

Canonical has announced the roll out of Ubuntu Touch Over-The-Air 13 update to Ubuntu powered phones and tablets. There is a new notifications panel, language keyboards and bug fixes. The one thing which every Ubuntu Phone user complained about was the absence of Copy/Paste which has now been added. The notifications panel features per-app setting for sound, vibrate and message bubbles. Keyboard indicator has been added and the App updates show version changes for available updates / recently installed updates. 

Ubuntu Touch Over-The-Air 13 update includes improved screen management and proximity detection logic, legacy application copy/paste support, hardware keyboard selections added, support for multiple-calendar syncs and improved Emoji keyboard. 

The major bug fixes includes fixes for bluetooth pairing in cars, connection issue to WiFi with long passwords, camera orientation fixes and vibration settings, application start up fixes and improvements etc. 

You can check the complete release notes here : OTA 13 Release Notes 

The Over-The-Air 13 is supported by the following devices : 

  • BQ Aquaris E4.5
  • BQ Aquaris E5
  • BQ Aquaris M10 / HD
  • Meizu MX4
  • Meizu PRO 5

Also Nexus 4 and Nexus 7.

If you have still not received the update, you will receive by Wednesday, September 21 by latest. 

Friday, 2 September 2016

Ubuntu Touch OTA-13 to release on September 13

It's been quite some time when Canonical rolled out Ubuntu Touch OTA-12 and the development has progressed for the next rollout. From Softpedia :  we got to know the roll out date for Ubuntu Touch OTA-13 will be September 14. The OTA-13 is in Final Freeze, that means there won't be any new features added but their will improvements and fixes to the build. Sort of polishing the OS before delivering it to the end user. 

Ubuntu Touch on OnePlus
Ubuntu Touch on OnePlus

There will be Unity 8 Interface Optimizations and Support for Android 6.0 BSP (Board support package) and new poser manager for a better battery life. Also, one of the important features which Ubuntu Touch lacked was a copy paste feature. Almost everyone with a Ubuntu Phone in hand complained about it, and with OTA-13, you can copy paste data and texts within apps too. 

The update had been delayed when it was decided not to roll it out to end user on September 01, and again on September 07 citing more development and polishing. 

Ubuntu Phones are conceptually awesome and there has been many Ubuntu Phones launched but non of them has really taken off - precisely because the Ubuntu Touch is still in development stage.

We are hoping a good and complete OS in coming days, where I can ditch an Android and switch completely to Ubuntu Phone without any hassle.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Is the app gap "killing" Ubuntu Phones?

You may find "killing" word a bit offensive but it's been more than a year now since Ubuntu touch has been rolled out and the number of useful day to day apps can be counted on fingers. 

Buying a phone means having a device for the communication not limited to just calls and web surfing through browser. It has grown to an area where one uses it to remain in touch with their family and friends through WhatsApp, having video chats through Skype and Hangout and other apps like a YouTube client, Social Media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, photo editing apps has become necessity.

The logic given by many for not concentrating on apps is that Canonical is working on smoothing the OS itself first and provide a better User Experience in using the Touch. But, it should remember the fate of Windows Phone. They have had a nice UI, a different and non-lagging performance running on even 512 MB of RAM and there present market share has dropped to less than 2% from 4% in last year. The only reason - app gap. And I am talking about a platform which has only "some of the apps" missing. It still had official Facebook / Messenger / Instagram apps and WhatsApp receives constant updates. It has a number of photo editing apps and games and Microsoft backed it with it's own app segment of Office, Calendars, Outlook and others. 

Canonical has done things right till now. They have been concentrating on the high end phones with nice designs and top-end hardware. The latest in the segment, Meizu MX6 Ubuntu Edition is featuring a 10-core processor and is about to be launched very soon. But from here on, Canonical should shift it's focus on delivering better apps and try to convince the big fishes like Facebook and Google to develop their apps for the Ubuntu platform. This will be hard and there can be some setbacks. No one wants to invest their time and resources for something that isn't even a part of the overall competition. 

So what if in case their isn't an official support from the companies? Develop yourself. Being open source, Canonical has the advantage of working with the development community and it just needs to push things a little. I remember until now, when Facebook introduced the Universal Instagram app for Windows 10 Mobile, there was an official app in the store but no one used it. The 6tag app from Rudy, one of the Windows developer was always the best. Even many are still sticking to his apps despite the official app updated. And he has a collection of apps, that resembles the Facebook, Tinder, Instagram and others and some are better than the official ones. If a single developed can do this, why not Canonical. Fine, you start with something which is not to the level of the same on other platforms, but slowly and steadily it can be polished and improved. I won't mind with a Facebook Messenger app that works only to send texts and not support GIFs, Images, Sticker as long as it keeps me connected to my Facebook friends. 

The reason for this article from me is the fact that there is no WhatsApp app for Ubuntu Touch till now. You may say you don't care but more than a billion people use it daily. Whomever I know has WhatsApp. The popular line of "text me" has been replaced by ""WhatsApp me". Also, Facebook has ended the messaging through browser, and if you don't have the messenger app and you are not on the Desktop, you cannot talk to your friends. Even if I could, I wont wish to open the browser for everything. 

What do you feel, is the app gap holding the Ubuntu Touch from improving the market share and rising among the crowd? Let me / my readers know your expert opinion. 

And I'm sorry for the word "killing". I am a great fan of Ubuntu and Ubuntu Phone and I wish it to end the market dominance of Android and iOS. I would have used the word "limiting" in place of killing but that's almost same if you consider the fate of Nokia with Symbian and Microsoft with Windows Phone.