In our current digital age, most of us use a smartphone and at least one computer. Many, of course, extend to tablets, notebooks, and others, but in order to be a productive member of society, the computer-smartphone collaboration will usually see you through just fine.
Whilst smartphones provide many similar traits to a desktop, the sheer size of the screen means there will always be limitations – no matter how sophisticated they may become in terms of hardware.
Under the slogan "In every dual-core phone, there’s a PC trying to get out" though, software firm Canonical aims to turn your Android device into your one-stop hub for all of your multimedia needs with ‘Ubuntu For Android’. In short, you dock your device and it’s your computer; you pick it up, and it’s your mobile. Simple!
"It’s a convergence of devices," notes Jane Silber, Canonical’s CEO, as project manager Richard Collings docks a Motorola Atrix 2 connected to a 15-inch TFT monitor. In the usual suspense of connecting to a larger display, the Atrix’s screen goes dark momentarily, before the TFT lights up with the Ubuntu Linux desktop.
As opposed to being an app within the Android frameworks, it’s a completely separate OS which resides alongside Android – only rising to prominence when connected to an external peripheral such as a dock. That said, it does share a kernel with Android, and in Ubuntu for Android, one can access the device’s hardware and store data such as photos, contacts and music.
When it’s not being used, you won’t even know Ubuntu for Android is there since it doesn’t hinder battery life or RAM, simply sitting in the background, waiting patiently for its next chance to shine like a benchwarmer.
It will allow you to run any app you can run on desktop Ubuntu, coming with a Chromium browser, Thunderbird email, Rhythmbox music player and Shotwell photo editor as standard. It will be compatible with any device running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or above, but unfortunately, you won’t just be able to simply download and install it yourself, since Ubuntu is currently liaising with mobile vendors and carriers to install the software at manufacturing stage.
Then again, all the Ubuntu code will be open-source as it always has been, so custom ROM makers congregated over at XDA-developers and the like should be able to add the OS in custom ROM releases.
Could such an idea ever become reality? Could a device such be docked when at home or in the office as a PC?
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