Ubuntu for Android Smartphones Coming for MWC

Canonical is preparing to show off Ubuntu for Android at Mobile World Congress next week. The Linux OS package will dock to a desktop and sync with Android phones' contacts and services.

Linux software distributor Canonical Feb. 21 introduced a version of its Ubuntu Linux operating system for Android, a platform tailored for multi-core Android smartphones that can dock with a keyboard and monitor.

The software, which Canonical will show off at Mobile World Congress next week, aims to let users sync their contacts, Short Message Service/Multimedia Message Service (SMS/MMS) and telephony services between the Ubuntu platform on their desktop computers and their Android smartphones.

When an Android smartphone is connected to a computer screen, it launches a full Ubuntu desktop on the computer display, Canonical wrote in a press statement.

The company said this solution will provide the same desktop experience enjoyed by Ubuntu PC users, and includes hundreds of certified applications, ranging from office productivity to photography, video and music.

If some of that instantiation sounds familiar, it's because Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) likes to pair some of its high-end Android smartphones, such as the Atrix 4G, Photon 4G and Droid Razr devices, with a lapdock.

When the phone is connected to the lapdock, it launches a full Mozilla Web browser. Users may create and edit documents, make calls and conduct other productivity tasks through the phone/lapdock combination.

Similarly, Canonical said Ubuntu for Android provides corporate road warriors a "company phone that is also their enterprise desktop."

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth further expects the desktop will actually be the "killer app" for phones powered by quad-core CPUs this year.

That's because Shuttleworth sees quad-core phones as powerful enough to drive desktop-like experiences when connected to monitors and keyboards.

The way Canonical constructed Android for Ubuntu shouldn't be a surprise at all. The company has essentially used Android as Windows in the mobile ecosystem. For example, Ubuntu on the desktop is also designed to support Windows applications, using thin-client and desktop-virtualization tools.

For Ubuntu for Android, the customized version of Ubuntu shoehorns in alongside the rest of Android. The software supports High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and USB, among other standard features in high-end handsets planned for late 2012.

Canonical also said Ubuntu for Android will dock with a tablet, and will include Ubuntu TV for entertainment aficionados.