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New Ubuntu Convergence Device To Be Announced Next Month

Code-hints and whispers say company will unveil new device next month.

ubuntu convergence across devices

Canonical will demo at least one new Ubuntu convergence device at next month’s Mobile World Congress next month, we’ve learned.

Details we’ve seen suggest the company is to use the four-day expo to showcase the progress it has made in creating a software environment that transforms from mobile to desktop PC when a monitor, mouse or keyboard is attached.

Yup; it’s now official.

‘Canonical has been testing Ubuntu Touch on a 10-inch tablet with 64-bit ARM processor.

Among hardware Canonical being used to test and tailor convergence capabilities is a high-definition 10-inch tablet with 64-bit ARM processor made by Spanish OEM Bq.

What Is Mobile World Congress?

Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest trade show for mobile technology, and now covers wearables, tablets and IoT devices.

Held annually, the event plays host to major product launches from top manufacturers. The likes of HTC, Huawei, Blackberry and Lenovo are all expected to show off new flagship smartphones at this year’s show.

Device demos happen on the show floor but many product announcements and press launches are held in the days before the show doors open.

Bq Readers, who produced the first commercially available Ubuntu Phone, will join Canonical in attendance.

Mobile World Congress 2016 takes place 22 – 25 February, in Barcelona, Spain.

Canonical at MWC 2016: More Than an Ubuntu Tablet?

‘Canonical announced the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Phone at last year’s MWC

Canonical used its presence at last year’s expo to unveil the second Ubuntu phone, the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition. The device went on sale in Europe a month later.

This year we can expect even more goodies, with phone, pocket desktop and IoT all sure to snag some time in the spotlight.

Among hardware Canonical engineers are using to test Ubuntu’s convergence features is a device with the codename ‘Frieza’.

Like the code names of the previous three Ubuntu phones, ‘Krillin’ (aka Aquaris E4.5), ‘Arale’ (aka MX4) and ‘Vegeta’  (aka Aquaris E5 HD), ‘Frieza’ is named after a character from DragonBall Z.

Canonical engineers are also making use of a Bq M10 tablet to test the convergent code base.

The Bq M10 is a 10-inch HD tablet powered by a 64-bit MediaTek MT8163 quad-core processor (1.3GHz) and MediaTek Mali-T720 MP2 GPU. It has 2GB RAM and 16GB of eMMC flash storage. The Android version retails in Europe from €239.

Could the mysterious ‘Frieza‘ be the codename of a Bq M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet?

Possibly,  or it could be the name of a separate device. Maybe the convergent phone Canonical teased back in June of last year?

‘New technologies allow desktop software to run alongside mobile apps’ 

Exciting Months Ahead

Whatever shape or form-factor Frieza turns out to be it will be, we’re led to believe, running a new version of Ubuntu Touch¹ that integrates support for convergence, pocket desktop features and the Snappy Ubuntu Personal framework with the standard Ubuntu Touch experience.

This environment is being developed under the project name ‘Avila’ and will support traditional .Deb-based & Xorg dependant applications (e.g., Firefox, LibreOffice, Gedit, Xchat, etc) as well as software  developed and packaged for the Ubuntu Phone.

Deb-packaged, X11-based software that run in an Ubuntu Personal environment is sandboxed for safety using two new technologies:

Libertine “provides a snap package that lets a user create and maintain isolated sand boxes that can contain and run DEB-packaged X11-based legacy application software” in an Ubuntu Personal environment.

Puritin is a “bespoke Libertine container” that adds basic convergence functionality to Libertine apps. An accompanying ‘Puritin Scope’ will surface launchers for legacy apps in the Unity 8 UI.

‘Canonical say to expect ‘several exciting announcements’ at MWC 2016′

The same Ubuntu Personal code base will eventually be used on the Ubuntu desktop.

‘Showcasing The Next Stage of Ubuntu Phone’

Software convergence — using the same core OS to power both a full Ubuntu desktop experience and a content-centric smartphone one — has been the grand aim of Canonical’s mobile efforts since 2012.

With Unity 8, Mir and the Snappy package management framework maturing nicely, the pieces to get there are almost ready to clink in place.

Canonical declined to comment on the information we’ve seen, but they did tell us they will be at MWC 2016 to “showcase the next stage of the Ubuntu Phone live”, adding that attendees can expect “several (pretty exciting) announcements across both Internet of Things and devices”.

¹Apologies to Will Cooke
²’Avila’ also happens to be a small town in Spain and Bq is a Spanish company.