updated 01:13 pm EST, Tue February 19, 2013
Tablet-based OS to offer added multitasking, device convergence
Canonical has launched a version of its Linux distribution specifically made for tablets. Ubuntu for Tablets follows on from Unbuntu Phone, launched last month at CES, and the desktop version of Ubuntu in using the same base code, but instead relies on touch-based navigation and gestures, rather than physical buttons or keyboards.
In a similar way to how Ubuntu Phone operates, Ubuntu for Tablets stores most-used apps on the left-hand edge, app controls can be made visible by swiping up from the bottom edge, while search and extra panels can appear from the right. The OS can also take advantage of the extra screen real estate in multitasking, by clamping apps to the side of the screen to allow another to still be used simultaneously, in a similar way to Windows 8 apps. Voice controls in the Ubuntu HUD is also available to use, while integration with a number of social networks has also been included.
Ubuntu also suggests a future where a tablet could be used as a desktop computer in its own right by attaching it to external peripherals and also a screen, with the tablet able to act as both a full PC as well as a thin client for enterprise use.
Though Canonical is not creating tablets on its own, the Ubuntu for Tablets page states it is open to helping hardware partners to create Ubuntu-based tablets, just like Ubuntu Phone.
The company will be releasing an installable version of Ubuntu for Tablets on Thursday as a developer preview. It is said to be usable on the Google Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 devices, something Canonical has worked on before with Ubuntu desktop, and it is likely that devices running Ubuntu for Tablets and Ubuntu Phone will be on display at Mobile World Congress next week.