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Ubuntu Touch – a preliminary review

Canonical made a brave move earlier this year by jumping into the mobile OS race. Since then, Ubuntu Touch has generated a good amount of interest in the mobile OS news circle. Mark Shuttelworth announced last month that household brands are interested in Ubuntu Touch. All we know that development of Ubuntu Touch has been going on at a frantic pace. So, what’s the current situation with the mobile OS? Is  Ubuntu Touch ready to handle the daily chores like the established iOS and Android or like the new players like Sailfish OS and Firefox OS ? Lets find out.

The Lockscreen
Ubuntu Touch debuted a very interesting lockscreen. Unlike the other mobile os, this lockscreen doesn’t need unlocking and is more intuitive. It gives you information about calls, tweets and messages. Currently, the  lockscreen is partially working. It can  display call records, songs played and messages received. You need to double tap on the first information to get the second one. The greeter still does not have integration to Twitter or Facebook nor does it cycle the information automatically.

ubuntu_touch_lockscreen

Contacts and Phone book
Manual insertion is possible and the contacts are stored on the phone. Synchronising contacts with Ubuntu One is not enabled. You can download contacts from Google Contacts (Gmail) 50 at a time, but that needs to be done manually via command line. The script is incomplete as it skips special characters in passwords i.e. if you have “!”,”@”,”#” etc. at the beginning or end of a password, there is every chance that the contacts will not be downloaded. I couldn’t find any option to import contacts from sim card as well.

Dialer and calls
Dialer looks complete, basic functionality of calling to other phones work. Auto complete of contacts work as well.  However, I do not like the incoming calls occupying only 1/4th of the whole screen on my Nexus 4, that too on the top. This makes accepting an incoming phone call virtually impossible. My left thumb cannot reach the top right, nobody’s can, unless they have monster fingers! I consider this as a serious design flaw! However, it does allow you to receive calls when you use two hands which is the most important function of a phone. The dialer still doesn’t support on screen display of information like call charges or USSD services.

Messaging app
The messaging app receives and sends SMS without issues except for the fact that the SMS indicator shows the wrong date for message receipt (Says Jan 01).

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Sayantan Das

Sayantan is a Sr. IT Consultant working at Srinsoft Technologies, Chennai. He has over six years of work experience with more than four years as a Linux System Administrator. He is a Linux enthusiast and a blogger. He is also a regular contributor to the Ubuntu Manual.

29 Comments

  1. i think i’m going for sailfish os.

  2. Definitely in a better state than I thought. Nice breakdown

  3. > No chat apps
    > No gmail apps

    Since there are existing open-source chat applications for ubuntu, and several open-source mail applications out there, when I get my tablet in a few weeks and install Ubuntu Touch, I think I’ll fork some of these existing (and direly-needed) programs and make an Ubuntu-Touch compatible frontend, and put them on the App Store for free.

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