When Canonical put up a countdown timer on its website hinting at the Ubuntu tablet we (and by we I mean the whole tech-reporting community) thought that it had something to do with HTC’s media event today, mainly because the timer suggested that the Ubuntu tablet will be unveiled around the same time with the HTC One, possibly right after it.
And the Ubuntu tablet was unveiled today, but not during the HTC event, which was only about the HTC One anyway. Just like Samsung a day before – the Galaxy S4 announcement event rumor and confirmation hit a day before the HTC One event – Canonical tried to crash HTC party by stealing some of the spotlight.
Whether it worked or not, what’s clear is that the Ubuntu tablet is real, and will be available to users later this year.
Just like the Ubuntu phone which is going to hit the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 in a couple of days, the Ubuntu tablet will be initially available to developers, and only available for Nexus devices. And just like before, we’re going to remind you this is a standalone operating system that will be launched on its own devices, but at the same time the OS will be compatible with existing and future Android hardware, meaning that you’ll have to install it yourself on smartphones and tablets – not that we recommend you that, but it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your gadget.
Getting back to Ubuntu tablet, you’ll notice that it’s going to feature an overall appearance similar to Ubuntu phone, or Ubuntu in general. We have already told you all there is to know about Ubuntu phone back in January when Canonical unveiled it, so if you’re already familiar with that, then you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Ubuntu tablet, a touch-based interface that relies on the edges of the display for various actions
But Ubuntu tablet will have tablet-specific features of its own mainly because it comes with a larger display to take advantage of. In addition to apps that will scale beautifully – or so one hopes – to the bigger screen, Ubuntu tablet will offer multi-user support, multi-window support and voice recognition features.
The multi-user support doesn’t need more introductions. Just like on Jelly Bean tablets, Ubuntu tablets will support multiple users that can log in and personalize their tablet experience.
The multi-window, dubbed “Side Stage,” feature will even let users run phone-mode apps on the right side of the device, with the left and center side of the tablet used by a different app.
To increase productivity on the device, voice controls will also be available to Ubuntu tablets, via Ubuntu HUD’s interface.
Ubuntu tablet will work on a wide variety of machines, from 6-20 inches in sie, and will require an ARM A15 processor, 2GB of RAM and at least 8GB of storage to work.
Initially, the Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview will be available on February 21 for the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, with developers obviously being encourage to try it out.
We have no details on the first real Ubuntu tablets at this time, but we’ll be back with more news in the future. Release dates and pricing for Ubuntu tablet are not available at this time, but then again, we have no idea who will make the first Ubuntu tablets in the first place.
Interestingly, Canonical did hint in the Ubuntu tablet introductory video at a potential Ubuntu tablet design, with an Ubuntu phone being able to dock into an Ubuntu tablet – Ubuntu PadFone anyone? – which would in be paired with peripherals to turn an Ubuntu mobile experience into a more Ubuntu desktop-like environment.