Scopes are the cornerstone of the Ubuntu Phone experience. Its secret weapon in fighting against the app gap that afflicts every new platform, regardless of brand.
As I covered in my earlier article, Scopes offer a way for content to be delivered to the Ubuntu Phone without the slog of developing an app. Content, from cat videos to Ubuntu news site, is able to break free from the confines of the traditional app model and arrive there, on screen, ready to be interacted, expanded, and played with.
The flexibility of the framework and the simplicity in which developers can deliver content to the screen is what makes Scopes such a powerful swerve in a world too busy asking about apps to innovate.
The first Ubuntu Phone will ship with a couple of default scopes not yet available in the “developer preview” builds one can download and shove on a Nexus phone. These default scopes are packed with content from a diverse range of sources, but all under an overarching theme.
Let’s take a quick look at some of these in turn.
The Today scope does what it says on the digital tin: it shows important and timely information on one screen, things like weather, your favourite contacts and any upcoming calendar appointments.
The Nearby scope surfaces content based on location, with information from the likes of Yelp, TimeOut and others helping you find somewhere to eat or plan something to do.
Other default scopes are more familiar in what they offer (and have been available in various guises in developer previews).
The News scope combines news feeds from ‘chosen providers’ including the BBC, EuroNews and technology site Engadget. Categories let you drill down to find more specific items and personalise the scope so that it only shows you the stuff you’re interested in (e.g., you can add our feed ;)).
The Music scope lets you browse music on your phone, the web, and online stores like 7Digital from one hub. Initial streaming content providers include SoundCloud and Grooveshark.
The Photo scope combines images from Facebook, Instagram and Flickr so you can keep up with your social network buddies.
Lastly, but by no means least, the Video scope lets you sift through the latest cat videos from YouTube, mind-blowing talks from TED and hipster uploads to Vimeo. Depending on content providers yet to be announced, it wouldn’t surprise me to see movie purchases made available here, too.
All sources within an Aggregator Scope expand to reveal additional content, interactive categories, preview widgets, file snippets, etc. The result is an app-like experience without the need for an app.
Sources within aggregator scopes can also be “starred” to be made a default screen of their own, giving you all the categories, widgets, departments and search boxes so you can see, find and filter down to the information, snippets and previews you want to see.
We’ll be going hands-on with these scopes (and the rest of the Bq Ubuntu Phone) early next month. If you have any burning questions you want answered while we’re surrounded by Canonical’s crack team of mobile hotshots, let us know.