Edit: Article edited for correction that previously mentioned that the release was based on Ubuntu 20.04.

Ubuntu Touch, the community-developed mobile version of Ubuntu, has just released a brand-new version of their OS. This time, they have been quite light on new features for the sixteenth stable update.

It is still based on Ubuntu 16.04 but we may have something based on Ubuntu 20.04 next time.

Here we will be looking at what it is, what new features are present, and what future releases may look like.

New Ubuntu Touch OTA 17 Features

While it doesn’t have that many new features, there are still a few. These include:

  • NFC support on supported devices
  • Camera flash, zoom, rotation, and focus was fixed on many devices
  • A new Macedonian keyboard layout
  • Updated Mir from 1.2.0 to 1.8.1

The reason for such a short list of features is because the focus of the Ubuntu Touch team is for a release based on Ubuntu 20.04. There was less time to review and merge fixes and add new features like the regular OTA releases.

The upcoming release with 20.04 is making good progress, as per the announcement, but they will release it only when completely ready:

We’ve made great progress on Ubuntu Touch based on Ubuntu 20.04. We are now able to launch Lomiri, launch apps to display in Lomiri, and launch apps via a systemd user session. The problem is that all of these are separate! Putting them all together will bring us much closer to our first public milestone for the project: providing the first Ubuntu Touch image based on Ubuntu 20.04.

Read on for a more detailed dive into these new features.

NFC Support On Some Devices

This is the main new feature of Ubuntu Touch OTA 17. Ubuntu Touch now has support for NFC hardware in most of our devices running with Android 9 hardware compatibility, including the Pixel 3a and Volla Phone.

This feature is really interesting as it opens the door to a new range of uses for these devices. One application that really stands out to me is a possible FOSS Google Pay alternative.

Camera Fixed On Many Devices

One issue associated with many of the past Ubuntu Touch releases has been the erratic behavior of the camera on many devices. This has since been fixed with the OTA 17 update.

You may read the official release announcement here.

Wrapping Up

While it isn’t a particularly large release, Ubuntu Touch OTA 17 does bring a few new features and fixes.

It will be exciting to see what Ubuntu Touch OTA based on Ubuntu 20.04 has to offer in the near future!

It is great to see UBports release yet another update, especially during this busy period of development. Let’s just hope that they manage to get their upgrade done soon.

Jacob Crume

I am a Robotics Student in New Zealand that loves to tinker. In my spare time, I love firing up virtual machines and trying out new distros, as well as customizing them to maximize my productivity. I enjoy...