It is one of the great promises of segment mobility and technology in general. The Canonical era was the first to point to a convergent world where your smartphone could become your desktop PC, and it launched last year and half Phones for Ubuntu (or Ubuntu Touch), a version of its Linux distribution oriented smartphones. We intend to analyze the performance of the platform and the path taken eighteen months after. Armed with Nexus 4 and the latest edition of Ubuntu development Touch you count how our experience has been a very ambitious platform but today has a long way to go.
The installation of the Ubuntu Touch of Nexus 4 is relatively simple, although the official guide Canonical (care utilizes new, not old) recommends having an Ubuntu distribution installed on a PC or laptop to complete the process. Once installed the image, we could already start using the smartphone to assess its performance.
Gestures are everything
The first surprise of the Canonical approach is the absence (at least for now) traditional software buttons. No start button (Home), nor other traditional shortcuts in Android as the button that lets go back or menu button. That space of the Nexus 4 is therefore unused, and instead of all those hits in Ubuntu Touch is controlled through gestures. Thus, a swipe from top to bottom we show the options of the application running (eg browser toolbar), while if you slip your finger from the top down appears notification system Ubuntu.
In the case of sliding from the left frame of the phone to the right we find the launcher of the Ubuntu Touch, modeled (or rather adapted) the Unity launcher in Ubuntu. If we go to the opposite part of the right side and we glide your finger to the left pass application, but if we keep the gesture one appear 3D view with thumbnails of the active applications.
The design of gestures is correct: its execution, not so much. Get the 3D view is complex, and move between open applications quickly by sliding your finger from right to left does not always work as expected. The response in the notification area is surprisingly good when we finger for each of the icons (which will make your specific configuration is shown), but is one of the few sections in which the fluidity of Ubuntu seems to show potential.
Applications, the big question
Another radical change of paradigm Ubuntu Touch is the absence of a traditional desktop. The “Home” (to call it somehow) shows an array of applications available, but encompassed by all the applications and content scheme offered by Canonical. The Fields (or Scopes) is part of that experience as well as audio and video files, but the interaction with all those additional screens to center desk is rather strange. The state of immaturity of Ubuntu for smartphones is also felt in the app store, in which the organization is absent. No categorization of applications, so to find a tool or game we have to know your name or a term through which we can reach you.
The offer also is scarce, and except for a handful of examples most expected tools are just web versions of already established services. It is about customers on Facebook, Twitter or Gmail, which are not native tools but hits on mobile platforms such websites. While this solves the ballot for many cases, the user experience is far from optimal. Of course, it lacks many of the “whistles” on other platforms like Instagram or WhatsApp, although in the latter case there is a web client called Webogram Telegram that can bring some relief to users of instant messaging solutions. The software ecosystem is probably the big question of a platform that has potential but so far has not demonstrated in the present state of this except the native operating system solutions.
It is in this section where Canonical gives us some hope. The navigator is correct, although it is debatable fluency and sharing options pages, for example, are nonexistent. The application of camera is also acceptable, with a response time of approach and pretty good catch denoting the developer interest for this aspect of Ubuntu. But surely the big star (for me) of this platform is the Ubuntu terminal. There, in its entire splendor, the same we shell found on a Linux desktop distribution. With all its power, but the disadvantage of having to use the keypad makes the somewhat tedious interaction. Still no aid in that interaction: if we move the finger slightly up or down from the center of the terminal will see how we can access the previous and next commands in the history of that console session.
Furthermore, if we keep the finger pressed appears a circular menu shortcut that allow for example to emulate pressing Ctrl + C to stop a process. The ability to enter commands of all types (including package management via apt-get) expect us (very far away, of course) that intention having Canonical Ubuntu to convert a universal operating system in which the experience fits the screen.