It might be time to consider running Ubuntu on your smartphone

(Image credit: Canonical)

Germany's UBports Foundation has rolled out an update for mobile operating system Ubuntu Touch that eliminates a long-standing pain point.

Ubuntu Touch OTA-21, the latest version of the Linux OS, delivers a fix for problems with the set-up and synchronization of Google accounts, first encountered by users more than two years ago. Now, however, users should be able to sync their Google calendar and contacts without any issues.

Other changes include a sleek new “Greeter” screen, which is displayed when the smartphone or tablet is about to be unlocked, and an upgrade that allows MMS content to be retrieved when in 2G network mode.

Ubuntu smartphone

Launched in 2013, Ubuntu Touch is billed as the “privacy and freedom-respecting mobile operating system”, an implicit jab at Apple and Google, whose system software dominates the market today.

The open source project was dropped by Canonical in 2017 due to lack of interest, but has been given a new lease of life by the UBports Foundation, with the support of a few thousands volunteer contributors.

While Ubuntu Touch does not offer the same breadth of features, applications or support as iOS and Android, the idea is that users can rest easy in the knowledge their operating system will not harvest their data.

It’s unclear how many people run Ubuntu Touch today, but given the increasing popularity of other types of privacy-preserving services (VPNs, proxies, encrypted email etc.), we would be unsurprised to see an alternative mobile OS gather momentum too.

The latest Ubuntu Touch update is due to land on supported devices (of which there are roughly 40) over the next few days and can be installed via System Settings.

Currently, the OS is still based on Ubuntu 16.04, but the UBports Foundation says work is ongoing to port it over to version 20.04 in future.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.