It was just a few months ago that Ubuntu for phones was officially announced to the masses. I thought that the platform looked promising, even if I questioned just how much room was left in the market for additional operating systems. Regardless, Linux and mobile enthusiasts are still waiting until Mobile World Congress at the end of the month to see the devices up-close.
Not content to simply make everyone wait until then, Canonical has announced that their operating system will also support tablets. While this makes sense and seems like a natural progression of the OS, they’ve provided some interesting capabilities for it which are detailed in the following video with Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth.
Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about the multitasking capabilities demonstrated in the video. Being able to run a tablet app while having a phone app running simultaneously at the right side of the screen is a very cool idea, especially if it ends up being as fluid in practice as it is in the video. Likewise, having tablet apps which support the feature also capable of being run in tandem while snapped to the right side of the screen is a nice touch as well. I hate to say it, but it almost makes the feature seem like a more functional version of running Metro apps on the desktop in Windows 8.
Being able to simply pop into your notifications and read your messages from the top of the screen while leaving your main application running and visible seems interesting, too. Functionality like that seems to give tablets a better fit into the computing ecosystem. It makes them seem more like a cross between a phone and a full-fledged computer rather than just a phone with a significantly larger screen. I feel like the interface is really a limiting factor in mobile operating systems as compared to desktop operating systems as far as productivity goes, and enabling users to do more with less effort is going to be key to making that segment of the market “need to have” rather than “neat to have.”
The last piece I found rather interesting was the idea of a single device actually running all of your computing needs. When Canonical announced Ubuntu for phones, they touted the idea that you could dock the phone and end up with a full-fledged Ubuntu system if you could connect that dock to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. Now they’re saying that you could also dock the phone into a tablet screen for a larger interface while remaining on the go. It’s a very unique idea, though I wonder how many people will spring for a tablet-sized screen dock for their phone and whether or not prices will allow that idea to become successful. Hopefully we’ll find out more details at Mobile World Congress, which starts next week.