Ubuntu Phone Looks Like The Future Of Computing
Canonical is nothing if not brave. From radically modifying the user interface of Ubuntu Desktop, to pushing into the television market, Canonical is driving Ubuntu far beyond its beginnings as just another Linux distro. With their latest push, an android and iPhone competitor, Ubuntu is skating to where they puck is going to be. But, which such a bold move, there are significant obstacles to overcome. The soon to be released Ubuntu Phone is paving the way that all smart phones will eventually go.
The first computers were gigantic, filling rooms and requiring constant care and maintenance. Over time, the components required to build the computers become smaller and cheaper, till eventually it was possible to put one on your desk. The computer stayed on the desk until the laptop computer, a smaller, more portable, but just as powerful machine, made it nearly obsolete. And then, the iPhone was released, followed shortly after by Android and the Palm WebOS, and the next step in computing was clear. What we did not immediately understand was if mobile computing was an accessory, or a replacement, for the traditional desktop machines.
I contend that mobile computing devices like our phones are the next wave in personal computing. They continue the trend of laptops by being smaller and portable, and exceed by having near ubiquitous Internet access, and by being so portable they can fit in your pocket. However, not everything about mobile computing devices is better. Processing power is much less than their desktop counterparts, and many of the interaction requirements of the touch screen are less efficient than a hardware keyboard. The smaller screen of a phone can be a benefit, but there are certain times where you need a larger screen to get some work done. Ubuntu is looking to bridge the gap between a desktop and a phone by providing the software that can be both.
Imagine this scenario: you arrive at work in the morning, sit down at your desk, and drop your phone into the dock. Your monitor lights up with your normal desktop environment and you work in it throughout the day. At the end of the day, you pull your phone out of the dock, put it in your pocket and head home. On the train, you think of something else to add to your project, so you take out your phone and use the touch screen interface to add to your work. No need for syncing or cloud resources, everything you need you carry with you on the phone. When you get home, you drop the phone in the dock in the kitchen to watch a show while you are cooking dinner. Fast forward a few more years, and maybe you don’t even need the dock anymore. You arrive at work and the proximity sensor in your phone detects where you are and automatically connects to your monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
Processors are getting faster, storage is getting cheaper, and battery life is getting better. All the signs point to the scenario described above coming closer to being reality, and Ubuntu’s phone push is one more piece of the puzzle falling into place. Now, the question of course, is, are we ready for the future today? Is the mobile hardware we have available to us today capable of replacing a laptop or desktop computer? I would say no, but it is not too far off.