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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Ubuntu Touch - Is it ready for prime time?

Earlier this year, BQ, a Spanish phone company, released the first Ubuntu Touch phone in the BQ Aquaris E4.5 for the world to see what Ubuntu is capable of. BQ presented a phone, mid tier specification with Ubuntu Touch version 1 with limited application and options. It may be ahead of its time and the public response was not so favorable.

Fast forward a few month later, the second Ubuntu Touch phone would be released to the public, this time from the Chinese phone maker Meizu. This time, the hardware specification is a tad higher with speculation that Meizu would use last year benchmark king in the Meizu MX4 as the new Ubuntu phone. It is rumored, that the Meizu smartphone would make its full debut this week at the MWC 2015 in Barcelona.

Hardware aside, is the Ubuntu really ready to replace other available smartphone in the market?. Out of our curiosity, we flashed our own Nexus 4 with the Ubuntu Touch to see what the mobile OS is bringing to users.  We have installed the latest build from the Developer Edition in the Vivid Vervet branch (Ubuntu 15.04 r1).

First impression
Ubuntu Touch is really is in the infant stage and it has a long way to go for it to even have the features like any other available mobile OS in the market now. Our first struggle with the Ubuntu Touch is the lack of screen snapshot. We could not capture the screen of the phone unless we are using another camera. The lack of application is also a big issue where Whatsapp is not available while we are a constant user of the Whatsapp applications as our daily interaction medium.

At the time of writing, the only notable apps available in the Ubuntu store was Telegram, while official apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Ebay and Amazon is preloaded on the OS. There are alternative or 3rd party apps but with the current banning of 3rd party app by Whatsapp and Snapchat might bring issue to Ubuntu Store as faced by Windows Store.

Ubuntu touch bring a new way to interact with your phone in scopes where thing are aggregated in a page with easy access and quick information. Scope in theory is a very good system and for us we actually like it, we might be open for other methodology with our experience with Windows Phone but just like Windows Phone lack of apps, the normal users would still like to use "apps" even though it is not the most efficient way.


As of now, we don't think that Ubuntu Touch smart phone would be able to replace your current daily driver if you are already a heavy user of apps from other platform such as android or IOS. The additional OS as an option would be something that most user would actually love and that would breed more innovation in the market.

 Just as the Windows Phone 8.1 started the flat design where both IOS and Android follows, Ubuntu phone might bring something fresh in the market where in the end of the day, the consumer wins.


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