CNET Gives MWC Best of Show Award to Ubuntu Touch OS

At last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, CNET was impressed with the Asus Padfone Infinity, Asus FonePad, Nokia Lumia 720 and Sony Xperia Z tablet. In selecting its Best of Show award, however, a panel of CNET judges focused on the potentially disruptive category of new mobile operating systems. Mozilla’s Firefox OS and Canonical’s Ubuntu Touch generated the most buzz at MWC.

“The team thought that Ubuntu Touch, the tablet version of which we got our hands-on for the first time at MWC, feels more like the complete package at this point,” writes CNET. “We liked its slick, elegant interface that makes use of every side of the screen and puts your content and contacts front and center, minimizing the time spent hopping back to a home screen.”

According to CNET, Ubuntu Touch (developed by Canonical, expected for October release) beats rivals such as Firefox OS and the Samsung-backed Tizen. Although manufacturers have yet to be confirmed, CNET tested the OS on a Google Nexus 4 smartphone and a Google Nexus 7 slate.

“Instead of shortcuts to open apps, the home screens show you your ‘stuff’: messages, music, videos, and so on,” notes Rich Trenholm for CNET. “The main home screen has a selection of the highlights, such as favorite videos. I like the widget for recent messages, as it displays messages in a Cover Flow-style sideways-scrolling carousel showing pictures of your friends — a much friendlier and more human way to see who you’re communicating with than a list of text.”

Content is placed on a home screen, rather than an app, making it quicker to reach. Swiping left and right takes users to the screens dedicated to specific content, such as video, music, etc. Navigation through apps, notifications and settings is quick and easy — but since Ubuntu is a new platform, it trails behind Google Play for Android and Apple’s App Store in terms of number of available apps.

However, Ubuntu Touch supports the increasingly popular HTML5 so it has access to Web apps from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Evernote.

“I’m hugely taken with Ubuntu Touch,” writes Trenholm. “It’s elegant, thoughtful, and versatile, while remaining beautifully straightforward. Compared to the messy Android copycats Firefox OS and Tizen, it’s by far the strongest potential rival to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. In fact, I prefer it to iOS, which long ago lost its shine, and heck, maybe even to Android, too.”

The CNET post provides a hands-on video and collection of still images. For more information, check out the full reviews of Ubuntu Touch and Firefox OS.

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