Now stable for developers and industry, Ubuntu Touch can be installed on the Nexus line of Android devices by anyone with an Ubuntu PC, a USB cable and some CLI skills.
But where the end userTM – possibly including you reading this – are concerned, the term “stable” should not translate as “Ding! Ready to use on my main phone.”
Graduate from drooling over the shiny screenshots onto using the OS itself and you’ll soon discover that the experience isn’t quite as glossy or consistent as you thought.
So, in this post, I’m going to do something few would expect: I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t install it on your primary device.
This is not about bashing Ubuntu Touch, or denigrating the progress made. It is about ensuring that the casual user; the enthusiast; the end user; the people who see the word ‘stable’ and assume it’s ready for the prime time, have a realistic expectation of where things are at, and what’s yet to be done.
So, with my evil hat on (thanks eBay scope), here’s why you shouldn’t install Ubuntu Touch 1.0 on your Nexus 4 or Galaxy Nexus.
Not an Android Alternative (Yet)
‘A number of key functions and features are still missing from Ubuntu Touch’
To most it’s obvious; the first release of any software – be it a mobile OS or a random app – is rarely as complete or robust as competing products.
Ubuntu Touch is no exception. While version 1.0 is badged as ‘stable’ by Canonical, it is still only aimed at developers looking to develop on a platform with fewer moving goalposts, and industry bigwigs looking to evaluate the general look and feel.
End users trying it out will find a number of key functions and features missing from this release.
We’re talking basic stuff, too. Things like copy and pasting, spell checking, and contact and calendar syncing are all MIA.
And while the initial spurt of enthusiasm at trying something new might fool you into thinking you can get by, the practicalities – such as a lack of e-mail notifications; needing to run terminal commands over adb to perform certain tasks; not being able to turn off or reboot the phone with a UI - fast become apparent, and irritating.
Takeway: Ubuntu Touch 1.0 is not a replacement for Android.
Poor Battery Life
A sober reason to avoid Ubuntu Touch for now is the poor power management. Now, let me be clear: it is much better than it was in the ‘developer preview’ release that was available earlier in the year.
But your phone will need charging far more regularly than it would under Android. My Galaxy Nexus can manage a good 24 hours before needing an electrical jolt, but on Ubuntu Touch I’m lucky if it lasts as long as 12.
If you rely on your phone for calls and texts – whether for business, banter or the benefit of calming a paranoid partner – you may want to avoid it.
Takeaway: Batteries die faster on Ubuntu Touch.
Sparse App Selection
‘You may be better served buying a £60 Firefox OS phone’
It’s great that, despite not even being 12 months old, there are already a number of 3rd party apps for Ubuntu.
But as swell as that is there are gaps. Big, glaring gaps. There’s no mail app, dedicated maps app, let alone big hitters like WhatsApp.
Sure, you can scrape by using the (rather limited) web browser but, on a day-to-day basis this is far from ideal – why, you’d be better served buying a £60 Firefox OS phone!
Gaming is especially lacking. Sudoku and Checkers may be timeless classics but chances are you’ll find yourself itching for something more entertaining, like Dead Trigger, Angry Birds and Candy Crush, sooner rather than later.
Takeaway: Whatsapp? More like NoApp.
Galaxy Nexus Owner? Embrace The Lag
Own a Galaxy Nexus? You’ll defintly want to steer clear of Ubuntu Touch until a bug that sucks up CPU with more vigour than a zombie hoover is fixed.
This issue causes system slow downs, rendering the entire UI into a syrupy slow mess.
Ubuntu Touch on a Galaxy Nexus? It’s a frustration bomb that’s just waiting to explode…
Takeaway: Phone will meet wall should I install.