When Canonical debuted its "Ubuntu Tablet OS" last week, company CEO Mark Shuttleworth helped show off its many features in a six-minute video. And what we saw at CES2013 first hand was impressive - an OS that tries to do things a bit different, and uses all four edges to make navigating the OS' different functions an easy task. Simply put, the presentation looked great. However, as has since been discovered, there's more to it than meets the eye.
As discussed on the XDA Developers site, the current iteration of Ubuntu's Tablet OS in alpha form is lacking most of the functionality of what's seen in the video. Essentially, what was seen was actually video itself - PR fluff. That's not to say that the final release of Ubuntu for Tablets won't have everything that's seen in the video, but it is a little strange to be further behind than we realized. If we had to guess, with the Mobile World Congress happening this week, Canonical needed to get all of the details rushed out that it could.
That's not all that's striking. There's also the fact that Ubuntu for tablets (and phones) is not a "native" OS. Instead, it's Android at the core, running via Cyanogen10.1. This might seem like an odd decision, but in reality, it's probably the smart one. Both Android and CyanogenMod are kept well up-to-date, so if Ubuntu can be built around it, then it might as well be. That does lead to some believing that the OS is "just another skin", however.
Because Canonical stripped out the Dalvik VM, you'd be unable to run Android apps through Ubuntu on phones or tablets despite them being built on Android. It wouldn't be surprising, then, if at some point someone re-added Dalvik to the OS or created an emulator.
During a Canonical-sanctioned chat last week, it was mentioned that any device listed on the CM10.1 support list should run the current iteration of Ubuntu's Tablet OS no problem, but be warned: there is a lot that's not functioning. Even the calendar is a simple PNG!
With what we saw from the video last week, anyone could have guessed that the final release of Ubuntu for Tablets was right around the corner, but given all that's been discovered since then, we can see that's clearly not the case. Still, this is an OS I feel has major potential if it can live up to its promises, so I look forward to seeing it come out in final form.
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