Dogfooding the Ubuntu Phone: My (Early) Experience

As many of you will know, our goal is to get the Ubuntu phone in a state where it can be used on a daily basis for testing, and importantly, finding bugs, UI issues, and other details that help us to refine the overall Ubuntu Touch experience. Progress is on-track for the end of May.

I decided to start dogfooding a little early (please remember, we are shooting for the beginning of July to be broadly in shape for dogfooding, so if you try, don’t expect things to be ready right now), so today I put my SIM card in my Galaxy Nexus with Ubuntu Touch and things are working pretty well so far. It seems that my data is no longer getting wiped on image updates, which helps testing significantly, so I am regularly upgrading with the daily images.

As ever, if you decide to test, you are doing so at your own risk…don’t be surprised to see bugs, crashes, and potential data loss (although I have not seen any data loss so far).

Some notes about my experience dogfooding:

  • Making and recieving phone calls works well. I am using T-Mobile as my network.
  • Sending and recieving texts works well too. Messages appear chronologically.
  • Contact syncing is not in place but Sergio blogged about how to sync your contacts from Google. This has made my phone infinitely more useful and rather nicely, it pulls in the avatars too so I can see who is calling me. :-)
  • Browsing and connecting to wireless networks works well.
  • The browser works well overall, although currently requires wifi (3G browsing coming soon).
  • Camera works well (for still photos, video not implemented yet) and I can browse my pictures in the gallery.
  • Many of the community-written core apps are present and working. Calendar lets me save and browse calendar events (although syncing with a calendar service is not there yet). Weather shows me the weather for my area right now and a week long forcast. Calculator is working and largely feature-complete. Other core apps are on their way to the daily image soon.
  • Overall the core Unity UI is working well. I can search for apps, load them, quit them, multi-tasting works well, and the indicators work (for adjusting volume etc).

The primary blockers in my way right now for normal use out and about are:

  • The screen does not auto shut-off. This means if the screen gets turned on in my pocket it never turns off and the battery dies.
  • Speakerphone not wired into the UI yet.
  • Can’t set the time on the phone yet. Also, the alarm feature in the clock doesn’t work; I need this to get me up in the morning. :-)
  • Not so much a blocker, but the phone is still filled with example material and contacts. They need to be removed.

All of these are on the TODO list for completion by the end of the month.

I have been filing bugs for a bunch of the issues I am seeing on a day to day basis and the team are working hard to hit the end of May goal. Overall progress is looking good.

Although I have been using the daily images for quite some time on a phone without a SIM card, using as an actual phone is even more motivating than before. I can feel the phone coming together and when we get many of these issues fixed, it is going to deliver a far superior experience than the Android phone I was using before.

  • gordonjcp

    Sounds good. Which model of Nexus are you on?

  • Anonymous

    “…so today I put my SIM card in my Galaxy Nexus…”

  • Marco Ceppi

    I noticed a general lack of 4G mentions in the post, is that just bundled with 3G or is 4G support lacking/soon to come?

  • gordonjcp

    Uh-huh, and which Galaxy Nexus…? There’s about a dozen variants.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    There is only one Galaxy Nexus. Galaxy is usually from Samsung. Samsung produced the third Nexus. Nexus 4 is from LG.

  • Anonymous

    Good question, not sure. I presume 4G support is being worked on too (general data).

  • Erk

    Wrong. Don’t spread misinformation. There’s a 4G variant of the Galaxy Nexus.

  • Anonymous

    They are variants, not models, as stated in the wiki.

    There’s only one galaxy nexus. There are multiple nexus phones, but only one galaxy nexus, made by Samsung.

  • seung

    Um….the ui was cool!!! I flashed the image someone fixed it for using korean langueage and keyboard on my galaxy nexus!!!!! Anyways you will make setting app soon?? Or ubuntu do not have it??

  • Vincent Fouquereau

    This has made my phone infinately more useful and rather nicely[…] Infinitely.

    Weather showes me the weather Shows.

    All of these are on the TODO list for complettion by the end of the month. Completion.

    Super good news by the way, exciting times for Ubuntu Phones. :)

  • Sergio Schvezov

    maguro would be the answer to your question.

  • seung

    And will you support korean lagueage in ubuntu for phone??

  • Anonymous

    Yikes, you can tell it is a Friday, eh? Thanks for the notes: all fixed. :-)

  • Anonymous

    The UI is translatable, so yes. :-)

  • Vincent Fouquereau

    Haha! No problem, the prospect of the product at completion shows promises infinitely better than what’s on the market now. Oooooh, see what I did there! 😉 Have a nice weekend.

  • ?? ?

    How about software center? How many aaps on there for mobile? (I want Gapps)

  • Stephen

    I hope there will be a feature to send group SMS. Like in Android, I can send 1 sms message to 30 people or so. This is good for business purposes especially when the team is on the field. BB was excellent for sending messages too. Not sure if Windows Phone has this feature.

  • Stephen

    To add, I also hope the OS would be always upgradeable. I have been using Ubuntu since the single-digit versions and now using 13.04.

  • Arise Rayamangalam

    Make it a unique one a better one than Android and Iphone. Learn from the problems in Android, so add the features of multi language support especially Indian Languages. Then what about 3g video calling? We love Ubuntu keep going . .

  • Jim Camp

    I certainly hope it works, but nobody is going to drop Android on a brand specific smartphone if features crash and are not functional. I have the HTC One, it has Beats and I wouldn’t drop HTC’s Sense interface. So I figure Ubuntu phone would have to be flawless on say the HTC Windows 8 phone or some other more generic model where the owner wouldn’t lose functionality and the Ubuntu interface would be equal to or better. HTC is one of those phones where they are unique enough to have their own interface. Take the HTC Flyer 7″ tablet ? There are folks that rooted newer Android OS that didn’t get the phone to be 100% compatible. HTC even has a model that has Facebook’s version of Android on it. Would that smart phone be a candidate for Ubuntu phone OS ? or does it have buttons and features that Ubuntu wouldn’t function with 100 % compatibility ?

  • kjh


  • Velimir Baxa

    On what Cyanogenmod are you making that Ubuntu touch?

  • Adam Honse

    There are several variants though. The Galaxy Nexus for CDMA-based networks (Sprint, Verizon) and the one for GSM networks (T-Mobile, AT&T, most non-US carriers) are two completely different devices with different model numbers and everything. There may be more variants as well. My phone is the original Galaxy Note and I know of at least 4 variants/model numbers which it was released under.

  • Jack Nordstrom

    I would test it right now if it wasn’t for the alarm not working. I can’t do without it. No other watches around the house.

  • Michal Urban

    Is it possible to sync calendar in a similar way the contacts can be synced?

  • Patrick Bobble Off Baranowski

    NO BLOATWEAR, every app samsung forced on me in android I never use

  • Daan Wynen

    Alarm clock would be my only real showstopper at the moment, but I have time until the end of the month :) Keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    That’s our goal, to learn from the past to create something beautiful and more open.

  • Anonymous

    Right now, not many, but we are just getting going. We have been spending a lot of time growing our developer program though, and we are seeing lots of apps in development.

  • Anonymous

    Not right now, but that is on the roadmap.

  • Ashiqur Rahman Ashik

    I am waiting for ubuntu phone. But what i have seen i android. It do not really supports Bangali language directly from os. But ios does. Thats why i like to use iphone more then android. Ubuntu os supports bangali language by default. Hope it will also availabe in phone os also.

  • Singlestone


  • Cameron Norman

    I have one and a half pages of useless applications. I need to root my device NOW.

  • Richard

    I would like to buy a Ubuntu Touch compatible phone, which is the cheapest device? :)

  • Stephen Michael Kellat

    Is the Ubuntu Phone story going to predominantly be GSM or are we going to tackle the distinctly American edge case of CDMA?

  • Martin Eriksson

    Exciting news, really looking forward to see where things end up with the Ubuntu phone. Due to corporate requirements I’m stuck with a BB. and of course i’m really hoping that ubuntu phone could be secure enough, have enough remote facilities to be useful, come with openVPN out of the box etc that would be awesome but i suspect I will be stuck with BB for the foreseeable future, and in the meantime following your trials and tribulation with the Uphone will be most interesting.

  • Jose Vega

    Do you know, if we will have the sharing feature how in Android ? Thanks

  • meijin3

    So how’s it shaping up now that it’s the 27th? I’ve used it on my Nexus 4 a few time and I’d like to again when it’s a little more finished. Also does it still have that weird bug where if you deplete your battery, you won’t be able to charge your Nexus 4?

  • Aol

    Integrate the “Undo” and corresponding “Redo” equivalents that Android lacks.