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February 4th, 2016

Ubuntu Tablet to Be Available — Even in the U.S. — in March

Ubuntu today announced the launch of a tablet running its “converged” operating system which will be available in March.

If you’ve been waiting for a tablet offering the full GNU/Linux experience, your wait is almost over. Ubuntu announced today that a tablet offering the full “convergence” experience will be available to the public in March. The 10 inch device, dubbed the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition, will be built by the Spanish company BQ, which currently manufactures two Ubuntu phones, and will be sold through BQ’s online store. So far, no information on pricing seems to be available.

Ubuntu tabletThe device will be the first fully functional mobile device running Ubuntu’s mobile platform available in the U.S. Although BQ has made Ubuntu phones available to U.S. customers for some time now, they’re not compatible with U.S. carriers’ systems and offer, at best, 2G capability. The tablet is a Wi-Fi device with no cellular conductivity and so won’t be hampered in any way when used in the U.S.

Dyed-in-the-wool Linux users will find much to like about this tablet. For one thing, it will be the first Ubuntu “converged” device, which means that the device will be equally at home operating with a full fledged desktop interface or with the Ubuntu mobile GUI. Evidently,the device will also be able automatically determine which interface is most appropriate and switch accordingly.

Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition Specs

  • 10.1 inch touchscreen
  • MediaTek quad-core MT8163A 1.5GHz processor

  • 2GB RAM

  • 16GB internal storage

  • MicroSD slot (64GB maximum)

  • 8-megapixel camera (autofocus and dual flash)

  • 1080p video

  • Front speakers
  • Micro HDMI port

  • Dimensions: 246X171X8.2mm

“This isn’t a phone interface stretched to desktop size,” Canonical’s CEO Jane Silber explained in today’s press release announcing the new product, “it’s the right user experience and interaction model for the given situation.”

What does this mean exactly? For one thing, the OS can automatically detect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and automatically switch from Unity’s mobile interface to the desktop version. Canonical points out: “Then, connect the tablet to an external display for a full-sized PC experience.” In other words, just as Certs breath/candy mints once touted itself as “two mints in one,” Canonical’s selling the “two computer platforms in one” concept.

But what about apps? For the most part, there aren’t any, but Ubuntu thinks it has an answer to that with a feature it’s calling “scopes.” According to the Ubuntu website: “Ubuntu’s scopes are like individual home screens for different kinds of content, giving you access to everything from movies and music to local services and social media, without having to go through individual apps.”

Last February when the scopes idea was first announced, writer Jay Cassano explained them on the website Fast Company:

“Scopes are essentially contextual home-screen dashboards that will be much simpler and less time-consuming to develop than full-on native apps. They function by presenting related content from different providers alongside each other on one screen. The music Scope will pull songs from Grooveshark alongside music stored locally on your device, without strong differentiation between the two. A ‘nearby’ Scope would show suggestions from Yelp, reviews from Time Out, and your local weather all on the same screen.”

As far as I’m concerned this is perfectly acceptable, especially for a tablet that won’t see much out-and-about-town use. I have very few apps installed on my cell phone, and most of the apps I use are designed for when I’m “on the go” — apps for reading Q codes or barcodes and the like. My roommate, who’s an avid user of her Nexus 7, also uses very few apps, even preferring to access her one-and-only social site, Facebook, through the device’s browser instead of through the Facebook app, which she tried and didn’t like.

That being said, getting John and Jane Q. Public behind the Ubuntu tablet without an app store with 100,000 apps might be a hard sell. That’s the perception, at least, that Ubuntu will be trying to break.

Early adopters are likely to be people who already use Linux on laptops. I know I want to take one of these through its paces. My birthday’s coming up in May, just in case you’re wondering…

We’re currently in the midst of our 2016 Indiegogo fundraising drive. Your support is crucial. Won’t you please visit our fundraising page and make a contribution to support FOSS Force?

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

4 comments to Ubuntu Tablet to Be Available — Even in the U.S. — in March

  • Eddie G.

    Yes, this is definitely on my radar! Will treat myself to one of these for my birthday as well!!

  • Al

    I’m getting one also. Don’t care about app store, don’t care about specs. What I care is to not have redmond or apple snooping on me. Well google also. This tablet will help me with that.

  • tracyanne

    This actually looks a lot like what my friends who recently switched to Linux (Ubuntu), after a forced upgrade to Windows 10, would like… the wife actually, as it pretty much covers what she described to me as what she wants in a computer. The phone (A largish one) with full “convergence” might even be better.

  • Randal

    I’m on the wait and see fence. Seen the Crunchtab, vaporize, Zatab from Zareason come and go (open but no full OS for it), wanted a Sailfish tablet and now that is defunct, with a long waiting list for a chance at money back. Not really a fan of Ubuntu’s default desktop, so would like to know what other desktops will work well with it.