While trying to figure out what I wanted to write about today, I decided I really didn't want to write about the same topics that I usually cover. And, to be quite honest, it's kind of hard not to. With only four major platforms and four major carriers, talking about the things that matter most to us in the mobile industry is pretty limited sometimes, especially when news and phone releases are slow. But every once in a great while you get lucky, and you come across something new and interesting that you think people will like, and lucky for us, today happens to be one of those days.
If you can recall back in January of this year during CES, we got a preview of Ubuntu OS on smartphones, which is an alternate OS available for users to install on some phones like the Galaxy Nexus or the Nexus 4. We also learned about Ubuntu for Android. What is Ubuntu for Android? It's different than Ubuntu OS on smartphones. Ubuntu for Android actually tries to bridge the gap between PCs and smartphones, which really doesn't have that big of a gap to begin with. We have these phones that have multi-core processors, a decent amount of gigabytes, and even has the same amount of RAM that a good portion of laptops run on. In an effort to show how close the two are in comparison to each other, Ubuntu for Android allows you to connect your Android device (running on Ubuntu OS) to a monitor, keyboard and mouse through an HDMI cable and have a fully functioning OS running just off your phone. Pretty impressive.
One of the best things about Ubuntu for Android is not only does it run an entire OS from your phone, but it also uses the information from your phone on the computer. It's essentially mirroring your device to a secondary display that's optimized for desktop use as well as mobile use. You don't have to worry about transferring any files or using the cloud to sync. The files and all your information, contacts included, are already right there. It's a unique concept that, to me, makes a lot of sense. As somebody who does a lot of transferring from computer to mobile and vis versa, it's definitely an idea that I can get behind.
Really, the only thing that was missing from Ubuntu OS and Ubuntu for Android was official hardware, and as it turns out Canonical is trying to do just that through a record-breaking crowdsource fund on IndieGoGo that requires $32 million in just 31 days in order to get the project started. This project, if successful, would allow the creation of the Ubuntu Edge smartphone.
There's a lot to say and not much to see when it comes to Ubuntu Edge, especially because this phone doesn't actually exist yet. So far, we've been able to see 3D renderings and sketches that depict the intended design of the device, and we've been told a lot about the specifications of the phone, a lot of which are very futuristic and unlike anything we have seen on the market today. Let's take a look at some of the specs the phone promises to have.
Ubuntu Edge would have a 4.5-inch 720p display. The screen itself would be made out of sapphire crystal, not glass like most other phones use, and the housing will be made out of "a single piece of textured metal". Although we don't know exactly what the processor will be like, Canonical states it will use the "fastest multi-core processor available", which I suppose means that since it's not a guarantee that the phone will be made yet that they have time to build the best processor around and don't want to jump ahead of themselves to say what it will or won't be. The phone will also feature dual LTE antennas for use throughout USA and Europe, and will be the first phone that can dual-boot Ubuntu and Android. When it comes to cameras, Canonical also kept vague about the details but did mention that instead of pushing for more megapixels they will go for a more HTC One-ish approach by optimizing low-light photos. Although Canonical kind of brushes over other details, one thing they didn't stay vague about was the 4GB of RAM the device would feature and the massive 128GB internal storage space, which is extremely impressive for a mobile phone.
While all of this sounds pretty darn fantastic, if you want one you will have to pay a hefty price, and also depend on other people to pay hefty prices too. As mentioned before, the fund requires $32 million in 31 days, and with 24 days left it has acquired almost $7 million. At the time of this article, the cheapest package to help fund the device plus reserve yours for delivery sometime in May of 2014 is to pledge $775. The price has fluctuated up and down since the start of the initiative, so it is subject to change. Of course, no matter what he cost is, if the goal isn't met you won't be missing out on anything. They're not going to take your money if they don't produce anything. So really it all boils down to how much you want to see this project succeed and how much you trust Canonical to produce this drool-worthy device with some pretty awesome features.
Fortunately, even if you're not interested in owning the device or don't have $775 to reserve one, you can still pledge $20 to help others who want to see this intriguing device come to fruition.
Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth does say that this project is only for enthusiasts who are interested in the future of open-sourced operating systems and software, so if you're not really into that or don't think you would ever be interested in something like that, I wouldn't recommend pledging yourself. If you are interested, the amount to reserve one isn't entirely too crazy if you have the money to spend - especially if you're the type of person who would rather purchase a phone outright instead of paying the subsidized price and locking yourself into a two-year contract.
So readers, now I ask you: What do you think about Ubuntu Edge? You like? You don't like? Do you think you'll be pledging to own one, or do you think the asking price is too much? Let me know your thoughts about this intriguing project in the comments below!