Canonical unveiled Ubuntu for tablets on their website today. This announcement comes less than two months since Canonical revealed a version of Ubuntu optimized for phones. Ubuntu for tablets is built using much of the same design and UI conventions as Canonical’s earlier mobile offering.
Canonical is positioning Ubuntu for phones as a bridge between phones and PCs. Their tablet UI presents the ability to run phone apps and tablet apps side-by-side, similar to the multitasking functionality offered in Windows 8. Users will be able to drag content from one app to another, extending how much work they can get done using solely their tablet. An Ubuntu tablet user can also use Skype while working on a document at the same time, but do not be surprised to suffer from motion sickness while video chatting with someone attempting to do so.
Ubuntu for tablets differs from Android and iOS by not requiring a user to return to a home screen to launch new apps. Everything is accessible by swiping from the edge of the screen. Each edge presents different functionality:
- Left edge: Presents list of applications similar to what desktop Ubuntu users are accustomed to. Here users can switch beween running apps or open new ones.
- Top edge: Allows access to system services and settings, such as accessing WiFi networks, adjusting the volume, and viewing incoming messages.
- Bottom edge: Reveals app controls. Before swiping up, no buttons are visible on the screen, reducing the amount of visual clutter.
Canonical is boasting strong security features, more powerful apps for content creation, social media sharing built in, search functionality, a home screen that presents your content in an organized fashion, and access to web apps that function alongside native apps.
— Ubuntu (@Ubuntu_OS) February 19, 2013
No specific devices shipping with Ubuntu for tablets have been announced, but Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 owners will be able to install the operating system onto their devices on Thursday, February 21.