The Next Level Of Ubuntu App Convergence

The 13.10 cycle has been one of the most hectic I have personally ever experienced with Ubuntu. In this cycle we have built the key ingredients in our convergence story…Unity 8, Mir, the Ubuntu SDK, a full app upload process…and this work is forming a strong foundation for the 14.x releases in which we will complete the first iteration of our full convergence vision.

In Ubuntu 13.10 my team has worked extensively on building our app developer community. I have talked in the past about the importance of app developers to Ubuntu and when we release 13.10 we will see an end-to-end developer story – from browsing, to downloading the Ubuntu SDK, to writing code, to full API and tutorial docs, to packaging an app easily and getting it in the app store where it will run secure and confined on an Ubuntu phone. I am proud of everyone who has invested so much work in this end-to-end story.

Karma Machine, winner of the Ubuntu App Showdown.

We are already seeing the fruits of this developer story with the wonderful apps that are available in the app store as a result of the Ubuntu App Showdown. Read more about the winners of the showdown.

Building Full Convergence

In the 13.10 cycle we got our developer story in shape by flexing the muscles of the platform in a practical way. This was done largely in part by our core apps. As the core apps evolved we would discover bugs or missing pieces in our developer platform and fix them. Real programmers writing code helped us to understand where to fix and resolve issues.

In the Ubuntu 14.04 cycle I want to take this to the next level by flexing the muscles of our platform for writing apps that have both phone and desktop interfaces. This has two benefits:

  1. It helps us make our SDK stronger and more powerful across the full range of converged form-factors.
  2. It starts development of a powerful set of consistent, efficient desktop apps ready for when we are in a position to ship Unity 8 on the desktop.

Just imagine being able to run a slick, efficient, featureful app on your desktop, and be able to use the same app with a similar interface on your phone. Karma Machine, the winner of the Ubuntu App Showdown, is a good example of this:

Karma Machine, running in Desktop mode.

Today the Ubuntu SDK already has the ability to build apps that render differently on desktops, phones, and tablets, and many of the apps submitted in the app showdown already have converged interfaces (Ubuntu Tasks, uNote, OMGUbuntu, CNotes, Memories, Connect4, Reversi, Blackjack, GitHub Client, RamSamSam Reader, Yad, uShopper, SaucyBacon, Karma Machine, Beru, Solitaire Games, uTranslate, Word Chain, StackBrowser, Counters, and uDraw).

I want to work with these and other app developers so we can uncover any bugs, design problems, inconsistencies, and other issues. If you would be interested in working with us on these goals, please get in touch. Thanks!

  • Chandler Bailey

    Looking great, keep up the hard work! Only 13 more days for 13.10 and and UTouch 1.0 😀

  • andrewsomething

    So far, most “convergence” apps are really more phone & tablet than phone & desktop.

    I’m excited to see what can be done with Qt Quick Controls. It didn’t make saucy, but it will come into T with the new version of Qt. It gives you Qml widgets that are more like what we’re used to on the desktop and even pick up gtk theming.

    Getting some components that are more mouse and keyboard centric when on the desktop would do wonders for some of this stuff.

  • seb24

    And when we will have more information about Unity8 for Desktop ?

  • kc

    Is Canonical doing anything in the education field re bulk provioning and device management. Any link ups with ed publishers re text books. A ubuntu tablet could be very popular – not as constricted as ios/ipad.

  • Michael Spencer

    I am certainly interested in working on those goals in my app, Ubuntu Tasks. How do you want me to contact you to get involved?

  • Emblem Parade

    If you look at the source code, you’ll see that they barely even started on Desktop. The idea is that once Phone/Tablet is more or less stable in terms of API, they will then recreate all Unity7 features in the new codebase. But as of now they haven’t even started the work.

  • seb24

    In Fact I suppose that the teams are working on it to prepare the transition (Design, Usability, etc.). No code for the moment but it would be cool to have some mockup and explanation.

  • Emblem Parade

    The mockup you need is Unity7. :) Seriously, the project goals are to merge Unity7 features as is into Unity8. Only the implementation will differ. Will there be new regression bugs? You bet. There’s no way such a huge rewrite could go smoothly on the first try… But the goal is still for the user to feel no big change between Unity7 and Unity8.

    Actually, well, one possibly important change: Unity8 will no longer be a Compiz plugin, and you won’t have Compiz. So if you were used to doing special Compiz configurations for your desktop, you won’t have them anymore.

  • seb24

    I don’t agree. Unity 8 is different of the current Unity 7. For example Indicator is different, the Dash is different too, you have some details like the windows manager functionalities. Possibly some Unity 7 behaviours will change with Unity 8 too.

    Unity 8 Desktop look like Unity 7 but there are differences. So I’m waiting to see how they will do that.