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article imageUbuntu 15.10 launches with universal apps across platforms

By James Walker     Oct 23, 2015 in Technology
Canonical has officially launched Ubuntu 15.10, the latest version of the open-source Linux operating system distribution now available on desktops, phones and tablets. The new release brings several improvements, including more work on universal apps.
Canonical's Convergence concept is very similar to Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform seen in Windows 10. The aim of both systems is the same: to let app developers write code once but deploy it without change to all kinds of devices.
The operating system does all the heavy lifting so the developer doesn't have to. The interface automatically scales to fit the display the app is running on while providing access to the same base functionality.
In Ubuntu 15.10 "Wily Werewolf," Convergence has been expanded as more Ubuntu phones begin to hit the market. Although the operating system may be little known to many consumers, it is a popular and free alternative to Windows with a strong and loyal following. Recently, Canonical has begun to launch the operating system on tablets and phones, aiming to bring a full desktop experience to mobile devices.
When convergence is complete, the company says "everything that a user expects from a PC experience has to be available from their smartphone." This includes "effortless" multitasking and window management, support for desktop notifications, simple file browsing and management, a unified app store, access to the underlying core of the operating system and communication between the desktop and mobile platforms, allowing a computer to send text messages via a connected phone for instance.
This is another area which Microsoft is working towards, allowing Cortana to send text messages from the desktop via a Windows 10 phone in the latest preview builds of the operating system. The single-OS vision of Windows 10 and Ubuntu is very similar, even if Canonical's efforts may be lesser-known. Ubuntu has been gaining support for such features for years but it is only now that they are maturing as Ubuntu phones and tablets become available.
Canonical explains what convergence will allow app developers to create: "This means applications have something no other OS can provide: a single, visual framework and set of tools for applications to run on any type of Ubuntu smart device. Applications developed for mobile will easily scale and run on a desktop display, with support for point and click input […] Similarly, developers of desktop applications can use our SDK to extend and enhance their application for mobile use. […] When you see your application on the phone and then use that application on the desktop, it is the exact same code running each application."
This functionality is powered by the new Unity8 desktop, available in Ubuntu 15.10 as a technical preview. Users can try out the new Unity8 experience and then revert to the traditional Unity7 at any time. Unity8 includes support for better multi-tasking between running apps alongside a first glimpse of the ability to run some mobile apps on the desktop.
Chinese users will find a "faster, more elegant" experience in the dedicated Ubuntu Kylin version of the operating system. Searches can now be made directly in the pinyin phonetic language and applications have been polished for a more consistent look and feel. There are also updates for Ubuntu Core — designed to power the Internet of Things — and Ubuntu Server that further extend the capabilities of the OS on those specific kinds of device.
Ubuntu 15.10 is available for download now or as an over-the-air update for Ubuntu Phone. Canonical says it "remains one of the world's most popular, easy-to-use and reliable operating systems" and notes how Ubuntu can be found pre-installed on millions of computers by brands including Dell. Linux-based operating systems are particularly popular with fans of open-source free software, programmers and developers, system administrators and workstation operators due to their open nature, wide range of hardware and software support and ease of extensibility and customisation.
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