Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd Jan 2013 19:05 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Expected, but still insanely cool: Canonical has just announced Ubuntu for phones. This is a new mobile phone operating system, with its own user interface and development platform. It's built around Qt5 and QML, and the interface reminds me of MeeGo on the N9. It's supposed to be on the shelves in early 2014, but the developer preview is out today.
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Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

I've never been convinced its something consumers even want. Its like asking them to pick out a firmware for their Dryer.

Hardware isn't just a shell for the Software inside it, it is a part of the experience. What may make sense for Android, doesn't necessarily make sense for Windows Phone or iOS.

A good example is the Palm Pre, that gesture area below the screen was brilliant, but not really suitable for other OSes who don't bake in support.

HW and SW should be developed closely and in tandem.
As much as some people here bemoan the mobile revolution, it has irreversibly changed the way we see devices.

Where as before PCs were Black (or Beige) boxes which just happened to run Windows (and Linux if you were enterprising), the devices of today are a much more personal, intimate experiences.

I'd much rather OEMs make "Ubuntu", "Sailfish", "Android", and "Windows" phones with their own specific enhancements than try to fit one phone to 4 or 5 OSes.

When almost every "mobile device" released these days is a rehash on the same rectangular touchscreen slab design, I fail to see where OS-hardware integration is supposed to lie, or even where the need for it is.

It seems to me that the requirement to make hardware is only a way to dramatically increase the barrier to entry for new players. With generic computers selling everywhere for a few hundreds of dollars, one shouldn't need billionaires to start an OS business. Besides, reinventing the hardware wheel over and over again because of arbitrary firmware restrictions, while all the interesting parts of computing lie in software, is just a waste of engineering resources.

Edited 2013-01-04 08:24 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Its nonsensical to suggest that minor product line alterations would be detrimental to a business.

OEMs do it all the time anyway due to carrier demands. Nokia produces a tweaked Lumia for almost every carrier in the US, produces specific Lumia devices for China, etc.

It wouldn't be outlandish to suggest (and in fact it already happens!) that Samsung might just slightly tweak and modify hardware to better fit the target OS.

And I strongly disagree with the "black slab" argument. My Surface is more than a black slab, so is my 920.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Its nonsensical to suggest that minor product line alterations would be detrimental to a business.

OEMs do it all the time anyway due to carrier demands. Nokia produces a tweaked Lumia for almost every carrier in the US, produces specific Lumia devices for China, etc.

I am not suggesting that diversified product lines should disappear in favor of a One True Phone/Tablet. In fact, phones have been getting too lookalike for my taste in the past few years.

What I am saying is that considering the hardware unification that has occured recently, there is nothing anymore that prevents the emergence of a common "touchscreen slab" hardware standard which every phone and tablet OS can rely on anymore. Like has occured in the PC world.

Take a look around mobile device design. Phones and tablets are gradually losing every physical buttons but the lock, volume, and camera shutter ones, which are handled identically by all OSs. Besides that, the only I/O peripherals that remain are the occasional physical keyboard and the ubiquitous touchrscreen, both of which are fully handled by software and in no way intrinsically OS-specific.

So again, where's the OS integration in that? What is preventing phone OEMs and OS developers from making a unified hardware standard as has been done in the past in the PC world?

It wouldn't be outlandish to suggest (and in fact it already happens!) that Samsung might just slightly tweak and modify hardware to better fit the target OS.

But it would be wrong to suggest that such minor alterations are enough to justify having every OS live in its own little hardware world.

The Windows key is called a Super key in Linux and a Command key in OS X. Whether a computer comes preinstalled with each OS determines how the key is labeled by the keyboard manufacturer. Yet all three OSs can be installed on a single machine, and in such a case the key will work perfectly fine for everyone.

And I strongly disagree with the "black slab" argument. My Surface is more than a black slab, so is my 920.

Notice that I explicitly avoided mentioning the color black, and instead discussed "touchscreen slabs". The point which I want to argue is that devices are functionally identical, not that they are structurally identical.

Reply Parent Score: 2