rantShould Ubuntu Phone run Android apps?

Sharp intake of breath required: it’s a question barbed in contention and immune to indifference.

Even former Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon isn’t averse to needling the topic. 

Over on the Ubuntu Phone mailing list the discussion is old hat. It’s almost as much a part of the infrastructure as mailman headers and incorrect inline replies.

On the Ubuntu Phone mailing list debate over whether Ubuntu Phone should run Android apps is practically the initiative discourse; a topic raised so often it’s as much a part of the infrastructure as mailman and erroneous replies.

With Shashlik, a Linux-based Android app ‘runtime’ environment for running Android apps, making headlines in the geek press this festering old wound has been freshly wetted by the salty lick of opinion.

Amid the usual “for” and “against” arguments — ‘WhatsApp Law’ is invoked early on in the entire thread —  is an eloquent “rant” from Chinese Ubuntu user ‘Ubuntu Mexon’.

Mexon’s full rant is an entertaining riposte against the current situation. I recommend the entire thing (hit the link at the bottom of this post to go there) but I’ll pull out a few choice quotes to whet your appetites.

“There is no point having a phone in your pocket unless you can talk to your friends with it.  There is absolutely no point developing a phone operating system …that won’t plug into the communications networks people actually use.”

In light of a bug introduced in the Ubuntu OTA-9 update last month has resulted in many Ubuntu handsets rebooting, freezing or crashing mid-call (though a ‘hot-fix’ release should solve this issues shortly).

Touching on the strict application lifecycle and confinement policies of Ubuntu mobile, Mexon concludes:

“The lesson I learned from my beloved Nokia N900 is that, in a pinch, having to do something in a clunky, inconvenient way is infinitely better than not being able to do it at all.”

The official line from Canonical is that there are no plans to support Android apps on Ubuntu.

The position is sound: Android apps would offer a second-class user-experience and compromise the elegant engineering and secure app confinement and permissions model that Ubuntu for devices has been built around.

Mexon’s rebuff:

”If it's a choice between security and being able to use the damn thing, I'll just be careful to not install any malware thanks”

Do You Agree?

Now, you might think that I, by highlighting this rant, agree with the points Mexon raises.

But I don’t.

I sit (rather snugly) in the ‘Ubuntu Phone should be an Ubuntu Phone’ camp. Android apps work best on Android phones, not Ubuntu ones.

That said, I do appreciate the views opposite to mine and can empathise with many of the points Mexon makes. I just happen to think the solutions required to solve them are different.

Above all that the rant is just superbly written and is an entertaining read with your morning tea.

Take a glance over the e-mail yourself and let us know what you think: would Ubuntu Phone stand more of a chance if Android apps could run on it?

Running Android apps on Linux: Mexon’s Post

Opinion Ubuntu Phone rant