Ubuntu Touch RTM released: Can it take on Android and iOS?

In today's open source roundup: Canonical releases the RTM version of Ubuntu Touch. Plus: Fourteen ways to contribute to open source without being a programmer, and advice for open source programmers

Android and iOS have long been the two top dogs in the mobile world. But Canonical has been quietly brewing a competitor in the background that is almost ready to enter the mobile wars. Softpedia has a preview of the RTM version of Ubuntu Touch and finds that it's already in very good shape.

According to Softpedia:

Ubuntu Touch has come a long way. It changed a lot in the last six months, and it's easy to see that the developers are zeroing on the final form of the OS. The performance of Ubuntu Touch on Nexus 4 has improved tremendously, but this is a two-year old phone. Newer models will adapt much better to the system and they will be much faster.

With a couple of minor exceptions, right now I can't see a reason why I wouldn't get Ubuntu Touch as a daily driver and ditch Android entirely. In a couple more months, this version will be rock solid and I will have run out of excuses.

More at Softpedia
Ubuntu Touch RTM preview
Image credit: Softpedia

See also:

Liliputing: Ubuntu for smartphones hits RTM stageLinux Gizmos: Ubuntu gets closer to debut in Meizu MX4 phone

Please note that the Softpedia article also contains a great image gallery, with thirty four images of Ubuntu Touch. So be sure to check that out if you want to get a good overview of what Ubuntu Touch looks like and what it will have to offer mobile device users.

I know that some folks will wonder if we need another mobile operating system since we already have Android and iOS (and of course Windows Phone). But I'm a big believer in choices and I don't like the idea of Google and Apple being the only two major choices in the mobile marketplace (let's face it, Windows Phone just hasn't gone anywhere and doesn't seem likely to do so in the near future).

So Ubuntu Touch will be another option for consumers that are looking for something outside of Google and Apple's ecosystems. What I see in the preview (and particularly the screenshots in the image gallery) makes me think that Ubuntu Touch might have what it takes to offer a real alternative to Android and iOS. It looks at least as slick as the other two, and it seems to have all of the basics already covered.

Much will depend on the selection of apps that becomes available for Ubuntu Touch. Most users have been spoiled by the sheer number and quality of apps for Android and iOS, so if Ubuntu Touch lags behind for too long it could turn off a lot of users and end up in the same boat as Windows Phone. But hopefully developers will jump on the new platform and at least make it reasonably competitive to Android and iOS for some of the more popular and widely known apps.

Hardware is also going to play role in the potential success of Ubuntu Touch. If it can run on enough devices that users find attractive then it might do well enough to carve out a significant chunk of the mobile market. Right now the list of supported devices on the Ubuntu Wiki seems somewhat limited, but that could change as time goes by. Canonical announced its first hardware partners back in February and hopefully that list will also grow too.

It's really just too early to know just how things will work out for Ubuntu Touch, but I have my fingers crossed that it will become a viable alternative to iOS and Android. You can download the RTM version of Ubuntu Touch right now if you want to check it out directly, and you can also read the Ubuntu Touch RTM announcement on the Ubuntu mailing list.

Fourteen ways to contribute to open source without being a programmer

SmartBear has some advice for those who aren't programmers but who might want to contribute to open source.

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