Ubuntu Touch Q&A 71

Many app updates at OpenStore
9 March 2020

 
 

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News and Update

Presenting this week were Marius, Dalton and Florian.

uNAV

There have been some great app updates, which are now available in the OpenStore. ARM 64 versions are fewer of course but conversion is easy and they are beginning to build up now. uNAV has seen a huge revision, being rebased on qtwebengine rather than on Oxide. It is now more secure and much more fluid. Please give some feedback to Costales and friends about the new version

Teleports

Teleports got some major updates. Message layout is a surprisingly complicated issue because a message can convey so many different types of information connected with status. Those issues have mostly been fixed now. At last stickers can be sent but that might not be obvious to you if you only use Teleports because there is still no mechanism there for adding sticker packs. If you add some using another client though, you will now be able to access them in Teleports. The disappearance of draft messages has been fixed, along with syncing. This means they will not only be saved automatically if you exit Teleports or switch off your device – the draft message will also magically appear on your synced devices too. Secret chats now allow for the verification key to be displayed. The idea is that you open the key while standing next to the person you are in chat with, to ensure that all future secret chat between you is authentic. Another big change is that muting and un-muting groups is now possible, so you can escape from unwanted notifications.

Many core apps have been updated. In particular we want to mention that Notes (or Reminders) no longer uses oxide and has also gone over to qtwebengine. The app now displays correctly in dark mode.

Unity 8

Unity 8 has now been renamed to Lomiri. Most users will not notice anything as the result of that change. The advances in making the desktop environment available to other platforms (which the change was designed to promote) are considerable. Debian, Fedora and Arch are all in the pipeline.

OTA-12

It has a few bugs still, which are holding up release. Unfortunately these have been issues which are slow and painstaking to fix. That is the way software development goes. It just is not possible to work to exact timelines. Rachanan has just fixed an issue where apps were slow to start up. You can easily switch to rc channel on your device if you want an early look at OTA-12.

A number of calls for testing are out but we would like to highlight one from Alfred who has been making some changes to memory handling on the Xperia X port. Feedback to him about how those are working would be very much appreciated.

Sponsors were thanked.

Questions

The News section of our Forum is the best place to pose questions for the Q&A. YouTube live chat, Telegram and Matrix are other places to post a question.

Oxide

Totalsonic asked whether with Notes, Dekko2 and uNAv etc now being based instead on qtwebengine, does it mean that Oxide can be completely removed from UT soon? Would that not break some classes of webapp? The answer was that yes, that would be a logical move. It is unlikely to happen as early as OTA-13 though but probably quite soon after that. Removal of Oxide is indeed our intention, at some point.

Customization

Totalsonic also asked whether with the removal of Scopes we might be able to develop some new mechanism for opening a favorite app quickly? Would that help those who are advocating for other launcher options? One of the things that has been concerning some users is that the ability to get to the Dash with one swipe has gone. We now have a drawer. Lots of ideas about customization have been put forward and the discussion has at times got a bit heated. In the short term (which does not mean as part of OTA-12!) there is some potential to make some small tweaks. Since it is very difficult to describe possible mechanisms in words, Dalton is going to make some mock-ups to showcase some idea, so that users can properly understand how they would function. There would be some practical issues with any option that might be put forward but in some cases those difficulties could be accommodated somehow.

PinePhone

AppLee noted the progress which has been made with PinePhone and asked whether from OTA-12 the build will be sufficiently well advanced that PinePhone can be included in our list of ‘supported’ devices? At the moment work is progressing well but cannot be considered fully working yet. Dalton said rather enigmatically to watch out for new announcements about PinePhone :)

Lomiri

Gizmochicken asked about the progress of Lomiri for Debian. Marius said it is going well but that he is new to the Debian packaging system and still getting to grips with it. There is a regular blog on this subject at sunweavers.net for those who want to learn more.

Gstreamer and new Halium builds

Luksus asked whether the gstreamer camera module now being used with Xperia X could be used via new Halium builds on old devices? The answer is basically yes – if they can be ported to the new Halium 7.1 base then they will get gstreamer automatically. With devices like the BQ phones we simply do not know whether that will ever be possible. Work is ongoing with a Nexus 5 build though and that has already shown that the Nexus 5 camera and playback issues are fixed with that (at present) experimental build of Halium. Actually, if you want to test gstreamer on your device you can. It doesn’t require any kernel changes in order to run. Instruction on how to do that are in UBports forum.

The Halium build based on 7.1 for Fairphone 2 is particularly well advanced now and it would be a good time for those with that device to try it out. It is not fully stable yet, so the usual warnings about the possibility of it breaking apply. 

Xperia X and OP3 builds are in the installer now. Although it hardly gets a mention because there are fewer of them around, the BQ Uplus also has a UT build which is performing very well now.  Those who have that device are recommended to try it out.

Marius is overwhelmed with work at present so fixes which are needed so that newer ports can run better are falling off the edge so to speak. As always, what we need is more developers helping out! 

Just a note to say that yes, OTA-12 will work on Nexus 4. That question was asked. 

Old devices

On the subject of old devices, they will inevitably suffer hardware failures, especially from around the five year mark. More and more will just stop working. At the same time, the attractions of newer devices will grow and users will want to switch. Eventually, everyone has to get a newer phone. Although we do not have them yet, we will eventually have builds for Android 9 and 10 devices. Building for those more modern devices is important and quite honestly more fun than patching very old devices. Security patches and driver patches will anyway dry up. It is also in the nature of the more locked down devices that conflicts will become more difficult to solve over time. Support for some will go eventually but what we can say is that we will give as much notice of that as we can. No withdrawal of support will be happening soon.

Stool app

Alex asked Marius how the Stool app is coming along? This started as a running joke about Marius’ height but in retaliation, Marius has created a game app on the subject, with a stool that goes up and down. It will be released soon:) The only worry is that it may be addictive …. 


See you next time :-)