As teased by yesterday’s countdown, Canonical today announced that it is bringing its Ubuntu operating system to tablets. The announcement was billed as “the next step towards one unified family of experiences for personal computing on phones, tablets, PCs and TVs.”
“Multi-tasking productivity meets elegance and rigorous security in our tablet experience,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical. “Our family of interfaces now scales across all screens, so your phone can provide tablet, PC and TV experiences when you dock it. That’s unique to Ubuntu and it’s the future of personal computing.”
Designed for screen sizes from 6 to 20 inches and resolutions from 100 to 450 PPI, it will look very similar to the smartphone version unveiled last month and uses the same gestures. Key features, some which are tablet-specific, include:
- Real multitasking: Uniquely, Ubuntu allows a phone app on the screen at the same time as a tablet app. The Ubuntu side stage was invented both to enable efficient multitasking and to improve the usability of phone apps on tablets.
- Secure multi-user: Multiple accounts on one tablet with full encryption for personal data, combined with the trusted Ubuntu security model that is widely used in banks, governments and sensitive environments, making it ideal for work and family use.
- Voice controlled HUD productivity: The Heads-Up Display, unique to Ubuntu, makes it fast and easy to do complex things on touch devices, and transforms touch interfaces for rich applications, bringing all the power of the PC to your tablet.
- Edge magic for cleaner apps: Screen edges are used for navigation between apps, settings and controls. That makes for less clutter, more content, and sleeker hardware. No physical or soft buttons are required. It’s pure touch elegance.
- Content focus: Media is neatly presented on the customisable home screen, which can search hundreds of sources. Perfect for carriers and content owners that want to highlight their own content, while still providing access to a global catalogue.
- Full convergence: The tablet interface is presented by exactly the same OS and code that provides the phone, PC and TV interfaces, enabling true device convergence. Ubuntu is uniquely designed to scale smoothly across all form factors.
While no manufacturers for its tablets were announced, Canonical lists the following hardware requirements for potential hardware partners:
- Entry-level consumer model: Dual-core Cortex A15 processor, 2GB of RAM and at least 8GB of onboard storage, 7-10-inch display
- High-end enterprise model: Quad-core Corext A15 or Intel x86 processor, 4GB RAM, at least 8GB of onboard storage, and a display up to 12-inches
Along with the smartphone version, a Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview will be made available on February 21st for the Google Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets. Those attending MWC 2013 next week will also have the chance to have it installed on phones and tablets by the Canonical team.