Anyone else interested in this? Thoughts, likes, or dislikes?
The tablet OS will be made available to devs and enthusiasts at the exact same time as the smartphone preview on February 21st. So in addition to the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4, you'll also be able to get a taste of touch-based Ubuntu on a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10. Canonical is promising to provide installation tools and instructions to smooth the process of flashing the early build to your device.
Commercial tablets containing Ubuntu aren't likely to be available until well into 2014. The latest we've heard is that a barebones smartphone will arrive early next year (albeit with some indications of a possible October launch), followed a few months later by a high-spec smartphone with access to an app store and docking mode, and then by tablets at some point after that. Although Ubuntu has made good progress in recruiting an unnamed silicon company to optimize its chips for the OS, it has yet to cement any deals with device manufacturers or carriers.
Ubuntu is so lightweight that -- by the time Ubuntu 14.04 rolls around -- it'll be able to use the same code across all four form factors, with the same security features, user profiles and UI fundamentals.
Since the OS will be a constant, a smartphone-oriented app will work on an Ubuntu tablet or any other Ubuntu device without having to be ported or even tweaked. (Although devs will still have the option of adding functionality or UI elements that are specific to one category of device, or that only wake up when a device is docked -- like when a tablet is attached to a keyboard or when a phone is hooked up to a bigger display.)
This is very different to what Windows offers, for example, with its separate WP8, RT and Windows 8 versions. In fact, Mark Shuttleworth claims to have "cracked this one in a way that has eluded Microsoft," not least because Ubuntu's approach means that smartphone- and tablet-sized apps can run side-by-side on the same device in split screen mode. For example, you could have the Skype phone app running at the same time as a tablet document editor. This feature will be called "side stage," and judging from the video -- which is all we have to go on at this point -- it looks like a nifty approach to multi-tasking.