The world’s first Ubuntu phone – the Aquaris E4.5 – has arrived and it will be available through a series of flash sales in upcoming weeks. I’ve previously written about the specs and details about the sales, read it here. Here I’ll be talking about the difference this Ubuntu phone brings to the smartphone scenario.
Why the new smartphone players don’t succeed?
The current smartphone market is ruled by Android and iOS, and this market doesn’t allow the new players to establish themselves. It has been a long time since Windows Phone was launched and it is yet to make a significant user base. The problem that engulfs the aspirations of newer operating systems is the need of an efficient and supportive app ecosystem. Without apps, users won’t support the new OS. The Linux-based open source OS Ubuntu tries to tackle this problem in a different manner.
The world’s first Ubuntu phone won’t be having apps. Instead, the Aquaris E4.5 will be having a new user environment called Scopes.
What is Ubuntu’s Scope and what’s new about it?
Jane Silber, CEO Canonical calls the first Ubuntu smartphone a “significant milestone.” It will feature Scopes – Scopes are contextual home-screen dashboards which are a lot simpler and faster to develop than the usual intrinsic apps. Scopes are kind of a reinvention of mobile user interface by presenting a faster way to access the important services like social, music, internet, pictures etc. They do it by putting the content from different providers together on a single screen. The photo Scope will feature pictures from your phone library as well as the Picasa and Flickr web albums – all on the same screen.
“Ubuntu presents users with an entirely different way to engage with their devices – Scopes guide you to content you want – in the same way you think about it – to deliver a smooth, engaging experience,” says Cristian Parrino, VP Mobile of Canonical.
While all the operating systems depend on the apps to interact with users and provide them services, Ubuntu has tried to offer them something different. Forget all the sugar-coated terms like material design, tiled layout, and whatnot; Ubuntu has tried to provide something different in a real sense with Scopes. Apps offer different content on different screens, whereas user just wants to access the information provided by the apps.
How is it beneficial for developers?
Canonical has tried to go with the Scopes by keeping in mind the flooded smartphone market. Developers are busy making apps for Android and iOS which account for about 90 percent of all the devices. Parrino says that Scopes can be developed with a fraction of the cost of conventional app developing. It is simple to make new Scopes with an easy to use and cheaper user interface toolkit.
Right now, it has managed to score some well knows partners like Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Yelp, Grooveshark, SoundCloud, Amazon, Dropbox, Spotify and Time Out. This has been possible due the tag Canonical and Linux attached to it. It’s clear that Canonical will rely heavily on a vast and dedicated community of Linux coders for more Scopes.
What to expect from the world’s first Ubuntu phone?
Ubuntu is a whole new concept and Canonical is targeting the developer and open-source enthusiasts with this phone. I won’t expect this to top the sales or break any records. Instead, it will show how tired of the app interface the users are.
Alberto Mendez, CEO at BQ says: “Ubuntu is a totally different concept in mobile operating systems and we are proud of the fact that our customers will get to enjoy it before anyone else in the world. At BQ, we support diversity in operating systems because it brings positive benefits for the technology sector and also for the user, who has the freedom to choose.”