Canonical, the company behind Linux operating system, Ubuntu, has paired with Spanish smartphone makers BQ to come up with its first Ubuntu-based tablet — Aquarius M10 Ubuntu Edition
. The tablet can be connected to a desktop monitor and bluetooth-enabled keyboard and mouse to give a full-blown desktop experience. The tablet hopes to boost enterprise mobility and is a step forward in device convergence.
Enterprises will be able to run regular Linux programs as well as apps downloaded from the store, the latter of which can be optimised for productivity applications and content creation.
Jane Silber, Canonical CEO said:
“This isn’t a phone interface stretched to desktop size – it’s the right user experience and interaction model for the given situation. Also, in terms of applications, we have something no other OS can provide: a single, visual framework and set of tools for applications to run on any type of Ubuntu smart device.”
What goes inside BQ Aquarius M10 Ubuntu Edition
It is 10.1-inches and comes with an HD display, quad-core MediaTek MT8163A SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB internal storage, with the option for microSD expansion. The tablet features front speakers and packs both rear-facing and front-facing cameras are at 8MP and 5MP respectively. The battery is a 7280mAh lithium-polymer unit, which is estimated to provide up to 11 hours of usage. At 246x171x8.2mm, the Aquaris M10 is less than one millimeter thicker than the latest iPad Air, and it weighs just 470g.
Although the most interesting tweak with this Ubuntu Edition tablet is the software one will find on board. While the tablet will primarily use a touch-driven interface, one can connect a keyboard and mouse over Bluetooth and the User Interface instantly adapts to take full advantage of the new hardware. With HDMI-out, one is ready to connect to an external monitor for Ubuntu’s convergent experience. It also supports Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and WiFi 802.11b/n/g, with no involvement of cellular connection so any worry of whether it’ll work with local mobile data bands is absent.
A win-win for enterprises
Canonical states that its Software Development Kit will allow developers to easily create apps, which can adapt themselves to different screen sizes and input methods. The edge in the community of Open Source platforms will allow customization and deployment of applications according to specific needs and requirements of users. This reduces the hassles of Licensing too.
Security at its best
Security threats are minimal in the Linux space. Still, Canonical promises an ‘Enterprise-grade’ security model — a centralized way to secure web, mobile and third-party applications across an enterprise’s global infrastructure, minimizing the chances of leaks and security breaches.
The tablet comes with a useful multi-tasking split-screen feature called, Side Stage. While one app takes part of the screen another can be referred as a copy next to it, taking multi-tasking to another level.
It also integrates well with application virtualization, hosted shared desktop (HSD) or desktop virtualization (VDI). This centralized combination of a cloud based system where desktop resources are centralized into one or more data centers not only improve security but also reduces software maintenance. Enterprises can take advantage of Thin client services where the devices are connected to servers hosting all other systems, particularly for enterprises that want strict control without any third party interference.
Little tech support
The OS is conducive and supports one environment for IT support to take care of all connected gears and for developers to remodel and customize their user-based applications. The seamless cloud integration makes it possible and plausible for enterprises to benefit from the tablet/desktop interface.
While users have always looked at Linux as power to desktop environment, expectations on the aesthetics would usually come secondary. But this picture has changed over last few years. Canonical is hiring a hoard of best of designers to improve the looks and UI of Ubuntu. The user experience is not just about themes anymore.
Learning curve a challenge
With all the gains on one hand, the other may dig at the adaptability and learning curve of new Ubuntu users who come in from a Windows environment. On a domestic level, it will be a gradual hike before users of the Windows family, familiarize themselves with this upgrade.
The price of the Ubuntu-powered tablet is not announced yet and will be available to the public sometime in March this year. But users can get a hands on experience at the Mobile World Congress to be held in Barcelona from February 22-25.
Microsoft had stirred up interest with Continuum on Windows 10 Mobile earlier and Canonical now is pushing the envelope with Ubuntu on mobile devices. While Continuum lets one run cut-down versions of Windows programs full-screen on a desktop monitor, Ubuntu adds multitasking. Seems like a win win!