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article imageCanonical to 'reinvent' personal computing with new Ubuntu tablet

By James Walker     Feb 4, 2016 in Technology
Canonical, creators of the Ubuntu operating system, have announced a new tablet to showcase the platform's "Convergence" feature. It makes switching between desktop and mobile computing simpler with intuitive apps and window controls.
Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux-based operating systems for computers and servers. It has failed to find the same success in mobile devices though, despite launching a selection of smartphones over the past few years.
Canonical has consistently claimed that Ubuntu will come of age on mobile devices with the introduction of Convergence, a model akin to Microsoft's Universal Windows Apps that will see automatically resizing apps running across all devices once downloaded from a unified store. Today, it "took an important step forward" towards achieving its eventual aim, introducing the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet.
Built by BQ, Canonical's European hardware partner, the Aquaris M10 is the first device to offer Ubuntu Convergence. It has a 10.1-inch touchscreen and is powered by a MediaTek quad-core 1.5GHz processor.
BQ has worked with Canonical before and currently sells two different Ubuntu phones. Rodrigo del Pradio, deputy CEO of BQ, said: "The Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition is our third mobile device to ship with Ubuntu. Our customers were delighted with the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition and Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition phones, and we’re excited to be the first OEM to ship the converged Ubuntu experience. It’s this kind of innovation that makes BQ and Ubuntu such a great fit."
The tablet's hardware isn't anything to get overly excited about as the emphasis is more on the software than the specifications. On tablets, Ubuntu incorporates elements of its traditional desktop interface and the "scope"-based one on phones. Users download apps from an app store, like on a phone, but can run multiple apps in windows.
Ubuntu Convergence allows apps to scale automatically across platforms
Ubuntu Convergence allows apps to scale automatically across platforms
It includes rich file management functionality, full compatibility with existing Linux desktop applications, exposed access to the underlying system for power users and support for the Ubuntu phone telephony features to let users make calls and texts from their tablet. Essentially, Canonical wants to bring a full PC experience to a tablet by blending an accessible interface with the ability to access everything available on an Ubuntu desktop installation.
"We're bringing you everything you've come to expect from your Ubuntu PC, now on the tablet with BQ, soon on smartphones," said Canonical CEO Jane Silber. "This isn't a phone interface stretched to desktop size - it's the right user experience and interaction model for the given situation. Also, in terms of applications, we have something no other OS can provide: a single, visual framework and set of tools for applications to run on any other type of Ubuntu smart device."
Canonicals' vision may sound very similar to an existing operating system that has been available for months: Windows 10. Canonical has been talking of its aims for Convergence for years though, long before Microsoft's latest Universal Apps model made its debut. Although Windows may have been brought to market first, Canonical has been working on Convergence for as long as, or even longer than, Microsoft.
The BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition will go on sale from the second quarter of the year from BQ's own online store. Canonical says it represents the company's "long held vision" of a converged computing experience, claiming "Ubuntu is the only platform that runs both a mobile-based full touch interface and a true PC experience from a single smart device."
More about canonical, Ubuntu, Convergence, Tablet, Linux
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