mobile photography technology, culture and community

Ubuntu shows off tablet operating system

At Ubuntu's CES booth, I got to see the new mobile operating system in action. In this photo, you can see how the apps can be accessed from the home screen.
When I saw the Ubuntu mobile camera at CES, the demonstrator kept reiterating that it was still in development. At the time, it had no tap-to-focus features.

Not to be left out of this week’s Mobile World Congress hype, Ubuntu released a video today showcasing its new mobile platform for tablets.

Ubuntu has been on our radar since we got to see an early version of its mobile operating system for smartphones at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada last month. While the camera interface was too undeveloped to warrant a story at that time, my overall impression of the operating system was hopeful. Camera access was quick from the lock screen and the folks manning the CES booth assured me that the underwhelming camera app was in development.

The Ubuntu tablet video released today primarily focuses on navigation, but also gives a peek into what we can expect from the photo editing software. 

The video is relatively long—over six minutes of demo. To skip to the part when founder Mark Shuttleworth opens the photo gallery/editing app, jump to 3:46.

Based on observation alone, it appears that Ubuntu might be onto something unique with app integration in its native photo editor. With an image open, Ubuntu seems to host additional apps in a side panel where users can pick and choose from effects -- a far different experience than needing to open an image in one app at a time. You can see the icon for the popular Gimp software as well as two other icons that I did not recognize. Then again, these could be currently open applications, but we'll keep hoping for some exciting photography-related features. 

This screen grab from the video shows apps operating within the native photo viewing software.

Users can also search for desired effects by either using the touch keyboard or voice command. In the video, the user searched for “exposure” controls and the software produced a list including exposure, darken/lighten and exporting tools. 

A preview of both the phone and tablet operating systems will be available on Thursday from Ubuntu's developer site. The smartphone platform will work on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus as well as Google’s LG Nexus 4. The Ubuntu tablet operating system will be available for the Nexus 7 and 10.

We will be keeping an eye on Ubuntu at the Mobile World Congress next and throughout the year as it prepares its mobile operating systems for an official release.


Total comments: 8
Reg Natarajan

I'm seriously interested. A real SSH client. A real RDP client. Suddenly these devices could reach a new level of usefulness for me.


And the red icon is Transmission, a bittorent client.


Ubuntu was always a bit heavy as Linux versions go - ok for a desktop OS... but I am skeptical that just because smart phones have the power and ram to run it, that it's a good idea - although relatively reliable as an OS, it's not comparable to traditional phone OSes.


The ability we have in linux to recompile apps for various CPU architecture, could make this a very interesting platform for tablets and phones. Not that there won't be challenges, but certainly easier than getting Lightroom to load on Windows RT.


Android is Linux too.


"With an image open, Ubuntu seems to host additional apps [....] You can see the icon for the popular Gimp software as well as two other icons that I did not recognize."

The orange fin is the Grooveshark logo - a music app. So I'm not so sure it's the picture editing app that you think it could be.

Lauren Crabbe

Interesting! Looks like you are right about Grooveshark. The video demo had me hopeful for something new. The way they edit with sidebar navigation while viewing the image in preview is normal mobile app stuff, but I wondered what the purpose is of having the extra app icons visible. Maybe those are currently open applications?

Either way, the search navigation for editing tools is helpful for a large editing app like Gimp.

Edited 2 times; latest 1 minute since posting

The logo left of the Grooveshark logo looks an awfully lot like the Gimp icon to me (

I'm very interested in seeing how these devices perform.

Total comments: 8
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