Canonical’s Ubuntu Project confirmed it would release the first stable build of the Ubuntu Touch mobile OS on Oct. 17, as part of the release of Ubuntu 13.10. Ubuntu Touch will not only be available for Nexus smartphones, including the GSM Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4, but also for the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets.
Back in February, an early developer version of Ubuntu Touch was released, and in April Canonical released Ubuntu 13.04 along with a Developer Preview SDK for creating apps that run on the desktop as well as Ubuntu Touch-based smartphones and tablets. Now, as promised, the stable version will be released in mid-October.
In a blog post, Ubuntu Phone QA community coordinator Nicholas Skaggs confirmed that a stable Ubuntu Touch image will be released for Android-based Nexus devices on Oct. 17 in conjunction with Ubuntu 13.10 (“Saucy Salamander”). Ubuntu and Ubuntu Touch will be fully converged in April 2014 with the release of Ubuntu 14.04, so a single build will run on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
In addition to supporting phones like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Nexus 4, the build will also run on the Asus Nexus 7 and Samsung Nexus 10 tablets. It’s unclear whether a full Ubuntu for Tablets UI will be available, or if the tablets will initially run the phone version. A second blog post from Canonical technical architect Loïc Minier refers to the October release as “phone 1.0.” (Meanwhile, rumor has it that a next-generation Nexus 10 will be built by Asus instead of Samsung.)
Stepping forward from the Edge
Canonical rolled the dice earlier this summer and launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for a Canonical-branded Ubuntu Touch phone called the Ubuntu Edge. The Edge’s $12,812,776 in contributions fell far short of its unprecedented $32 million funding goal, yet it handily broke the world record for crowdfunding.
Ubuntu Edge design concept
(click image to enlarge)
As noted by Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth in the Indiegogo campaign’s postmortem, the project also gained significant public awareness from the stunt, and helped Canonical identify potential customers for Ubuntu Touch phones. Yet, since the Edge project has been shelved, the campaign also confused the issue, and saddled the Ubuntu Touch project with an early failure.
Canonical may not launch a self-branded phone, but it still plans to announce third-party phones running Ubuntu Touch next year following the April release. It’s the only mobile Linux OS project so far that has yet to announce any hardware partners, although Canonical has signed up an impressive Carrier Advisory Group of potential wireless providers, including Verizon.