What is Canonical announcing?

Canonical is presenting a distinctive tablet interface for its popular operating system, Ubuntu. The tablet is the next step in Canonical’s mission to create one seamless experience for personal computing on phones, tablets, PCs and TVs. Ubuntu is distinctive in being the only operating system that runs across all those devices with a unified family of interfaces.

What makes it so different from anything available on the market today?

Ubuntu brings a beautiful user experience to the tablet form factor, including the ability for tablet users to truly multi task – by using two apps on the same screen, at the same time. A secure multi-user sign on makes it a device suitable for sharing at home or in the workplace and Ubuntu also offers voice and character intelligent search, through the HUD, making it faster and easier to complete activities.

Like Ubuntu on phones, it can run on hardware at the low end of the cost spectrum, while at the high end, it can deliver a genuine hybrid tablet/PC experience on devices that can be connected to a keyboard and mouse.

What is the target market for Ubuntu on tablets?

There are two markets for the Ubuntu tablet: consumers, where the style and usability of Ubuntu sets it apart from existing offerings, and the enterprise, where Ubuntu’s reputation for security and manageability are well established. Being pure Ubuntu means that our tablets can be managed with exactly the same tools as Ubuntu desktops and servers, and inherit the same security updates and rigorous engineering.

Ubuntu runs well even on entry level tablets, providing great performance and feature rich functionality on low bill of material devices. At the high end Ubuntu offers full tablet/PC convergence when connected to a keyboard and mouse. And built-in thin client functionality means the Ubuntu tablet has access to Windows apps and desktops over standard protocols from Microsoft, Citrix, VMWare and Wyse.

Mobile device OEMs can now deliver a high-gloss touch experience on devices spanning the entire cost range, from entry-level consumer hardware up to new tablet/PC convergence products for the enterprise.

Is it simply a ‘blown-up’ version of the phone OS?

The Ubuntu tablet experience is distinctive and unique, a bridge between the phone and PC experience. It offers true multi-tasking thanks to the invention of the side stage which places both a phone and a tablet app on the same screen at the same time.

The OS is exactly the same in all cases – Ubuntu running on tablets is the same Ubuntu which runs on the PC, phone and TV. What varies is the interface: Ubuntu presents the right experience for each device, dynamically. The phone, tablet, PC and TV interfaces are a family based on common design elements, with each member optimised for that form factor.

For example, on the phone, Ubuntu has been adapted for use in one hand. On the tablet, we designed for use with two hands. Ubuntu apps present different interfaces so one app can run on any Ubuntu device, phone, tablet, PC or TV, making use of the features available.

Is there a version of Ubuntu for every device now?

Ubuntu for the PC has been in the market for nine years, and a server version has been available for almost seven years. Adaptations of Ubuntu for the smartphone, TV and the tablet are all in development and expected to be available in 2013. All form factors will be merged into a single platform for our 14.04 LTS release in early 2014.

Which markets will Ubuntu be available in and when?

Canonical is a now engaging with hardware manufacturers and and aim to have the first Ubuntu tablets available for retail by the end of 2013.

How will Ubuntu for tablets come to market?

End users will buy Ubuntu tablets through normal retail channels, led by our partners. Developers will also be able to install Ubuntu on a variety of common tablets, such as the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.

Is it ready to build a device now?

No, however the program is on track and we have passed the key milestone of finalizing the design and engaging with both commercial partners and the open source community. We intend to announce our preferred chipset partner in the next few weeks, accelerating our engagements with hardware manufacturers.

Which partners will you be working with to bring the tablet to market?

Our existing PC partners have all expressed a desire to expand our relationship into mobile and touch categories, and phone OEMs that are working with us on Ubuntu phones will find it very easy to engage us on tablets too. Given the role of content on tablets, media companies looking for a more direct connection to their audience are also interested in Ubuntu.

How much will it cost?

We expect it to be priced competitively. Ubuntu is an affordable alternative for our partners and consumers.

I’m a developer, can I download the code on my device?

Our developer information site (www.ubuntu.com/gomobile) has relevant information for developers to start building apps for Ubuntu now.

The system code for phones and tablets will be published on Feb 21st under the normal Ubuntu process, and it will be possible to the run Ubuntu on a Nexus 7 or a Nexus 10 device if you already own that hardware. This Touch Developer Preview of Ubuntu will replace Android on those devices, so developers that are interested will need to be skilled at installing and replacing operating systems. It is not a final version of the OS, it a specific build for hardware partners and application developers.

Can I download Ubuntu onto tablets alongside my existing OS?

Ubuntu is a new OS, not an app. There is no consumer-facing installer of the kind created for Ubuntu on the PC. The only way to get an Ubuntu tablet is to buy a tablet built and supplied with Ubuntu by an OEM partner of Canonical.

Will it have any apps?

The Developer Preview contains a number of core applications such as a camera, web browser, Gallery for photo management. The applications will be a combination of both native applications and web applications.

Like Ubuntu on the PC and the phone, Ubuntu supports a variety of development frameworks: developers can repurpose existing web applications quickly, so that they get their own icons and access to system services like notifications and search, just like native apps. Mobile developers who have already created HTML5 apps for Android and iOS will be able to quickly adapt those apps, thanks to Ubuntu’s full support for HTML5.

To exploit the full power of the hardware, developers can create native apps using the Ubuntu SDK, for which an alpha release is available and which many developers are now using to create the first wave of native apps.

Will Ubuntu tablets run Android apps?

No, but we are making it extremely easy to republish Android apps for Ubuntu. Although both Android and Ubuntu are built on the Linux kernel, they are different operating systems. Android apps run in a Java virtual machine, whereas Ubuntu apps can be native or based on HTML5.

HTML5 apps written for Android devices using tools like PhoneGap will run unmodified on Ubuntu. Android apps that use Java will be easy to modify for Ubuntu’s distinctive UI, and publish in the Ubuntu app store, with Dalvik bundled in the app.

What do developers need to do to start building apps?

Web applications can make use of the Ubuntu Web Apps API to become installable on Ubuntu devices. HTML5 apps written for iOS or Android be adapted with minimal work, because Ubuntu offers full support for HTML5. Developers who want to create native apps that use the full power of the Ubuntu device should go to developer.ubuntu.com and download the Ubuntu SDK.

Is there a software development kit (SDK)?

A preview release of the SDK, including sample applications, is available from developer.ubuntu.com. Based on the same core tools as the native Blackberry SDK, it makes the development of native Ubuntu apps quick and easy. Developers can make a single app available for all Ubuntu form factors: phone, tablet, PC and TV, and publish in the Ubuntu Software Centre with a single upload.

How can you expect to compete with Android, iPad and Microsoft?

Ubuntu offers a gorgeous user interface that scales beautifully across phone, tablet, PC and TV. That’s a unique proposition for both corporate and consumer users, who are embracing new kinds of device in a sweeping trend.

The Ubuntu approach to service and content integration enables OEMs and carriers to participate in post-sale revenue streams without fragmenting the platform or user experience.

Ubuntu is an established ecosystem with very widespread enterprise familiarity, a trusted brand in sensitive environments and the platform of choice for developers from cloud to mobile. At the higher end Ubuntu offers true desktop convergence, perfect for companies focused on security, efficiency and manageability.

What are the minimum hardware requirements for Ubuntu on tablets?

Ubuntu runs well on today’s low-end tablets – a dual core Cortex A9 processor or similar, 1GB RAM, 8GB of storage and a multi-touch display are all that is needed.