Expect more Linux-based touchscreen tablets, mobile devices and set-top boxes over the next couple of years, as Canonical prepare to push touch functionality in their Ubuntu distribution. According to director of business development Chris Kenyon, the OS manufacturer is targeting “the digital home or something you carry around” – though not smartphones – with new builds that prioritise finger-friendly UIs and stripped down packages that boot quickly and offer speedy access to core mobility functionality.
Part of that will arrive with the Unity interface, which rearranges the desktop for better finger control, together with Ubuntu Light, which includes just chat, IM, browser and media player. Canonical also expect the OS to show up in embedded devices, such as in cars, and predict the first set-top boxes running the platform to go on sale next year. “I think people are seeing just how compelling touch interfaces can be” Kenyon says, “we have to believe that mobile computing will not be tethered to places where you only have a keyboard, and both voice and touch will have a very strong part to play in that.”