Canonical Announces Ubuntu for Android, Makes Your Phone a PC

“In every dual-core phone, there’s a PC trying to get out”, says the tagline on Canonical’s Ubuntu for Android page. It’s true that the specs on high-end smartphones these days are impressive to say the least, with more processing cores, better graphics, more storage, and 4G data speeds, but Canonical apparently thinks they have enough horsepower to double as desktop PCs.

With Ubuntu for Android, your phone experience is the same Android experience you’d normally get, but when the phone is docked with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, you get a full screen Ubuntu experience.

Ubuntu runs simultaneously with Android, so you can access all your contacts, calendars, messages, and even telephony via Ubuntu. You can run Windows applications with thin client and virtualization, and the experience is designed to be seamless. The target for Ubuntu for Android is in the enterprise, where Canonical sees it facilitating using smartphones that are also employees’ corporate desktops.

In a press release, Canonical co-founder Mark Shuttleworth said, “The desktop is the killer-app for quad-core phones in 2012. Ubuntu for Android transforms your high-end phone into your productive desktop, whenever you need it”

Ubuntu for Android is a clever idea, but one wonders how viable it really is in day-to-day use. Mobile phones are powerful these days, but not that powerful; would it really be feasible to, for example, run a virtualized Windows application on top of Ubuntu on top of Android? Further, how would it handle the aforementioned in addition to multitasking? Most people have a few different applications open at work simultaneously, such as email, a Web browser (with multiple tabs open), and a document or spreadsheet.

As you can see above, the hardware requirements for devices running Ubuntu for Android aren’t especially stringent; you’d only need a dual-core phone with modest storage and port requirements.

All that said, Ubuntu for Android is definitely worth checking out.