The new Google Nexus 5 handset will not become a reference device for Ubuntu Touch development, Canonical’s engineers have confirmed.
Many developers had fully expected the smartphone, released in October 2013, to be added to the line up of directly supported devices owing to its improved specifications and larger screen size.
The Ubuntu Engineering team will instead ‘continue to focus on the Nexus 4 phone platform‘ for the current release cycle. The costs involved in switching were deemed to be “too high” in light of current plans.
Future Ubuntu Touch builds for the Nexus 5 have not been ruled out, but with Ubuntu 14.04 on the horizon any further effort on that front won’t appear until after April.
Nexus Device Support Dropped
Along with no dice for the Nexus 5, moving Ubuntu Touch to an Android 4.4 enablement stack has resulted in further decisions on which devices should remain “officially supported”.
From the end of January official builds for three of the four currently supported Nexus devices will be discontinued, affecting users of:
- Nexus 10 (2012)
- Nexus 7 (2012)
- Galaxy Nexus
‘Tablet work will focus on a single device: the 2013 Nexus 7 tablet’
Dropping support for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will, Ubuntu’s engineering team say, ‘ensure focus on the [Nexus 4] and emulator polish’ is completed in time for the release of Ubuntu 14.04.
Similarly, Tablet work is to refocus on a single device: the Nexus 7 (2013).
Made by ASUS and released in July 2013, the updated tablet from Google will now become the chief reference platform for Ubuntu for Tablets , the first release of which is due in April.
Builds for the 2012 Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10 will be discontinued towards the end of January.
Not the End
Despite Ubuntu axing official support for many of the most popular Nexus devices, it’s not necessarily the end of Ubuntu Touch support on them. The community is free to pick up where Ubuntu has left off, with ‘skilled members’ wishing to adopt a Nexus platform invited to get involved in maintaining and developing future builds by contacting the Ubuntu Touch Team on IRC.
While today’s news is undoubtedly disappointing it is also entirely understandable. Resources, money and focus only stretch so far. A quality Ubuntu Touch experience delivered on two devices is preferable to a poor one ported to many.