Canonical has announced a smartphone version of the Ubuntu OS that will land on smartphones in 2014 to provide users with another OS alternative to the likes of Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
The OS is built around the existing Android kernel and drivers, and has enough in common with Google's market-leading platform that it will run on Android devices with little or no adaptation.
Compatible with both ARM and x86 devices, the new OS is less a standalone platform in its own right and more a smartphone interface for Ubuntu, and will dovetail with existing Ubuntu PCs and TVs with minimal fuss.
The first step to its full rollout in the mobile space will be the arrival of Ubuntu for Android later this year – a move that was first announced in February last year. Compatible devices will run the full Android experience as they do now when in a pure mobile setting, but will use Ubuntu when connected to a PC. Fully fledged Ubuntu handsets will follow next year.
Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth says details of the first Ubuntu for Android handset have yet to be finalised, but promises something “high end”.
The long-term goal is to nab that “third ecosystem” title from under Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS' noses, a lofty target considering how late in the mobile OS game it'll be arriving, and the fierce competition it'll be up against from rival platforms.