Today’s Ubuntu News

I am sure that you have all seen the exciting news about the first partners to ship Ubuntu smart-phones. For those who haven’t seen it:

19th February 2014, London: Canonical today announces it has signed agreements with mobile device manufacturers bq (www.bqreaders.com) (Spain) and Meizu (China) to bring Ubuntu smartphones to consumers globally. Canonical is working with these partners to ship the first Ubuntu devices on the latest hardware in 2014. Ubuntu has also received significant support from the world’s biggest carriers, some of which intend to work with OEM partners to bring phones to market this year.

Development programmes have begun with the partners to provide smartphones with a superior user experience on mid to high end hardware for consumers around the world. Devices will be available to buy online through bq, Meizu and at Ubuntu.com.

Today was a hectic day, starting with our Ubuntu town hall hangout and spent in a wealth of meetings. As such I haven’t had a chance to write a blog post about this announcement yet, but I wanted to throw something out on my blog before I go to bed.

Naturally this is tremendously exciting news. As I posted about before, 2013 was an intense year as we not only started building our convergent platform, but also the many inter-connecting pieces too such as our SDK, image based updates, Mir, app developer platform, platform services, app insulation, developer portal, and more. As a result of this work, since May 2013 I have been running Ubuntu full-time on my phone and we are in great shape.

In the last year my team has been heavily focused on building a new community; our Ubuntu app developer community. I have directed many resources in my team here for a number of reasons that I believe are of strategic importance to the future health, growth, and opportunity of Ubuntu and our community.

Firstly, we want Ubuntu to instill a level of simplicity, elegance, and power that is not just present in the default platform, dash, scopes, and services, but also emphasized across the apps that users want to use. This means kickstarting a new generation of apps inspired by the design and development principles that are driving our convergence vision and using a simple and powerful app developer platform so devs can go from idea to app store as quickly and easily as possible.

Secondly, I personally believe that apps are key to our success. I suspect that OEMs and carriers will be even more motivated by a platform with great apps and a powerful developer platform, I believe that users will be attracted to a platform with great apps, and I believe that developers will want to build apps for a platform that is both fun to use and develop for.

Thirdly, I believe there is a huge opportunity to refine and innovate in so many areas of our app developer platform and community. Everything from the tooling to knowledge and support to publishing can be optimized and refined to build the very best developer platform.

As such, in my peanut-sized brain the apps are where much of my team’s strategy should be focused.

I am delighted by the progress we are making here. As I wrote about a few days ago, there is lots of wonderful work going on and fresh features and improvements landing soon. Our Ubuntu app developer platform is growing in leaps and bounds and I am really proud of the efforts of so many people.

Now, while I am proud of where we are today, I am not going to compromise until we have the best developer platform in the world.

So, how does this all relate to the bq and Meizu news?

Well, this news starts the ball rolling on the first set of devices that are going to be hitting the market. This in-turn will result in a general consumer audience starting to use Ubuntu on smart-phones. While today we have thousands of developers flashing their phones with Ubuntu and eagerly writing apps and using other people’s apps, the injection of general consumers will build even more motivation and momentum for our app developers to create apps they are truly proud of and that will be of interest to a new generaton of Ubuntu smart-phone users. As a musician I can tell you that having an audience makes everything that much more worthwhile, and I think it is the same our developers who are about to get a new audience growing around them.

These are tremendously exciting times. Our vision is ambitious but every day the momentum grows and I delighted you are all joining the journey with us. Let’s do this, friends!

  • foxoman

    great news and great development ,looking forward to buy ubuntu phone and tablet :), but i have one concern as an arabic user , it’s all about Ubuntu Font , since long time a go – almost two year – there is no more info about ubuntu Arabic and Hebrew glyph development .

    the default arabic font now is so ugly , every release we hope to see the Arabic glyph but nothing ! , the most drawback to own any ubuntu touch device is the default arabic font !

    could you please update us regarding this issue :(

  • Pierre

    I’ve been following this whole Ubuntu phone thing, and especially the birth of the app community.

    I’ve got to say I was quite skeptical at the beginning, because I didn’t really know where Ubuntu was standing in the middle of the competition (Android, Firefox OS, etc.).

    Actually, my heart is still swinging between Firefox OS and Ubuntu phones. The good thing is that both support HTML5-developed applications, which hopefully will minimize the charge needed to adapt an app from one platform to another.

    I’m very happy to see this partnership with two hardware manufacturers. I don’t know bq, but I know Meizu since the mid 2000s, and all the devices I bought from them never disappointed me. I was actually thinking of getting a Meizu with Android, but now I”m gonna wait and see, cause Ubuntu would definitely be a better choice than Android for me! :)

    Let’s see where all that takes us and Canonical! Exciting times indeed!

  • Franck Routier

    Great news ! I’m eager to get a phone from ours spanish friends.

    Regarding applications, I’m a bit afraid of one point: please, please, don’t forget FOSS software. I have a Nexus 10 with Android, and I hate those apps full of advertising. I developped a little Poker Planning app for Jolla, and I am willing to post it to Ubuntu touch. But my price for developping is to find other FOSS apps on the platform. I have been using Mozilla in 1998, when it was hardly fonctional on a “designed for ie” web, but I used it because it was free (as in libre). Don’t lose this strength in an attempt to get the worst of all worlds… Don’t exchange quality for quantity… At least, make it very clear in the store when: - an app is free software (from a license point of view). Make it possible to give money easily and share with developpers. Canonical can take a fee, it would be fair - an app is non free paying software. I’m fine with this, as long as it is clear from the begining. - an app is a preview, limited app, full of advertising, asking you to pay every time you want to use it. Ideally, keep these away from your store. Or at least make it VERY clear these are adware, unfunctional apps.

    Best regards, Franck

  • Masoud Pourmoosa

    Do you know what is the fallback Arabic font in the Ubuntu touch? Is it DejaVu, like the desktop? That is not a particularly ugly font, though I don’t know how does it look like in small sizes.

    By the way, for Ubuntu Arabic development, we should talk to Paul Sladen. He was once saying in launchpad that he needs time to come back from US to London, to work again on Ubuntu Arabic with Bruno Maag and company. There is no progress since a long time ago.

  • foxoman

    i think yes it’s DejaVu as it looks , the problem it’s so ugly in ubuntu touch UI , the design feels broken with this font in phone and tablets .

  • http://gkn.me.uk Greg K Nicholson

    I think that having full compatibility between Firefox OS apps and Ubuntu (and Tizen!) would create enough shared momentum to give Apple and Google a wake-up call.

  • http://benjaminkerensa.com/ Benjamin Kerensa

    Ubuntu is using different API’s for their HTML5 apps while Firefox OS uses open web standards API’s so cross compatibility is not currently there and would require some rewriting in order to port.

  • http://daker.me/ Adnane Belmadiaf

    Ubuntu will use the standards APIs once the switch to oxide is complete, this will bring the latest tech directly from Chromium, rightnow it’s limited with qtwebkit, so they are using cordova to close the gap.

    Firefox OS is using 19 non-standards APIs(from 34 APIs) according to this page https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/WebAPI

  • http://daker.me/ Adnane Belmadiaf

    Even FF OS does now supports cordova “the different APIs” https://hacks.mozilla.org/2014/02/building-cordova-apps-for-firefox-os/ :D

  • Michael Hall

    You’ll be happy to know that almost all of the apps in the store today are open source, and that’s what we (Jono’s team) have been promoting since the beginning.

  • Pierre

    Very interesting listing, thanks!

    That’s what I’m concerned about… HTML5 is pretty down to earth, but when you want to interact with the sensors of the device or non-standard things (contacts, secure element, etc.), you have to reach low level components, and this is where API are vital.

    Is there a consortium where this kind of API is discussed? Something like the W3C, but for this kind of topic…

  • Pierre

    That’s really cool, and I hope people will keep contributing to Ubuntu this way.

    However, I remember the beginning of Android: Most of the apps were made by enthusiasts, most of the time for free (and sometimes open source). Then the business came in… Now, if you go in the Play Store, even when the app is free, you’re wondering who did it (a company, most of the time), and therefore how they’re going to use your data to make money…

  • Anonymous

    That isn’t true, Ben. Many of the FFOS APIs at https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/Apps/Reference are non-standard.