Ubuntu Touch OTA-14 Release

Ubuntu Touch is the privacy and freedom respecting linux phone operating system by UBports. Today we are happy to announce the release of Ubuntu Touch OTA-14, our fourteenth stable update to the system! OTA-14 will be available for the following supported Ubuntu Touch devices over the next week:

  • LG Nexus 5
  • OnePlus One
  • FairPhone 2
  • LG Nexus 4
  • BQ E5 HD Ubuntu Edition
  • BQ E4.5 Ubuntu Edition
  • Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition
  • Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition
  • BQ M10 (F)HD Ubuntu Edition
  • Nexus 7 2013 (Wi-Fi and LTE models)
  • Sony Xperia X
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
  • Sony Xperia XZ
  • Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
  • OnePlus 3 and 3T
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4X

New devices this cycle

 With this update we have new devices officially joining the release cadence! This means that these devices will now have a "Stable" update channel available in System Settings -> Updates -> Update Settings -> Channels. You can install Ubuntu Touch on these devices using the UBports Installer:

  • Xiaomi Redmi 4X (Maintained by Danct12)
  • Huawei Nexus 6P (Maintained by Florian Leeber)
  • Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet (Maintained by Guf)

If you're a device maintainer and your device is not on this list, this may be because it has not been added to the UBports Installer or it is an Android 9 device.

What's new?

At the beginning of each development cycle, we decide what our main focus for the cycle is going to be. For OTA-14, we chose to focus on Android 9 support. We believe this will help power the launch of our sponsor's Volla Phone delivering it as a daily driver into the hands of its new recipients.

This was largely a success: We were able to fix issues with swiping apps away to close them, Ratchanan did quite a number on camera support, and external display support with HardwareComposer2 now works.

Given the OTA-14 development cycle was only 34 days, we believe this was a huge success.

That's not all, though: Outside of our team's "new development" commitments, we also merged many changes and translations from our volunteer community.

Lionel(D) made a number of new changes to the Contacts and Messaging apps to make them easier to use.

Luca of postmarketOS fame contributed a number of fixes for compiling Ubuntu Touch software on newer distributions.

Joan made the splash screen for External Drives match most of the other default applications' style. Michele fixed dark theme support in Lomiri UI Toolkit Dialogs.

Kevin added a "Screenshot" button to the Lomiri power menu. This makes it possible to take a screenshot when you don't have a keyboard with a Print Screen key or if your device's volume buttons can't be pressed at the same time (like on the PinePhone).

And most exciting for me, this release *finally* fixes routing media to your Bluetooth headset or car kit on its disconnection and reconnection. If you're playing a podcast in the car and leave to go to the shop, your device will reconnect and you can continue playing audio on the car system when you get back. Bluetooth calls were not remedied and are still broken on most devices. Car kit compatibility was not affected either way.

What's next?

Goodbye, Oxide!

App developers please note: there are changes coming to Ubuntu Touch in OTA-16 that you must be aware of! OTA-16 will be the first release of Ubuntu Touch which does not include the old, outdated Oxide web rendering engine. If you are developing an app which uses Oxide, it will cease to function on users' devices in OTA-16.

Users of old apps beware: the removal of Oxide may affect you too. Many apps from the Canonical app store used Oxide directly. These include closed-source apps like Cut the Rope. If you're a user of one of these very old proprietary apps, now is the time to request that the app developer updates it. Otherwise, you may need to find another solution.

The removal of Oxide will be the end of an era, but a much-needed one: the engine hasn't seen an official update since 2017. It is unsafe to continue using the engine on the untrusted web, and has only been kept around for those offline rendering applications such as Dekko 2 and the Notes app, which needed it. Most of these offline applications have moved away from Oxide, so it is time to say goodbye.

Given our 6-8 week release cycle, OTA-16 will appear between the final week of January and the final week of February 2021.

Qt 5.12

If our work of the past few months finally comes to completion, OTA-15 will be the update where we upgrade from Qt 5.9 to 5.12. This will improve app startup times and memory use, make it easier to provide smaller and faster packages of apps and system software, and bring us in line with our next targeted Ubuntu release: Ubuntu 20.04. With our components matched like this, upgrading from our 16.04 base becomes much simpler.

More devices!

Community development has led us to many advances in the past three and a half years. The most significant of these may be the Android 9 effort. Between Volla's sponsorship and Erfan's creation of the Ubuntu Touch Generic System Image (or GSI), our community has been able to bring on new devices faster than ever before. Watch this space, more and more newer devices will have unofficial or official Ubuntu Touch builds available for them as time goes on.

How to get OTA-14

Existing Ubuntu Touch users

Existing users of Ubuntu Touch in the `stable` channel (which is selected by default in the UBports Installer) will receive the OTA-14 upgrade through the Updates screen of System Settings. Devices will randomly receive the update starting today through November 11. This spread is to give us time to interrupt a bad update in the future (should that ever become necessary), not to accommodate any bandwidth restrictions.

If you would like to receive the update immediately, turn on ADB access and issue the following command over 'adb shell':

sudo system-image-cli -v -p 0 --progress dots

Your device will download the update and install it. This process may take a while, depending on your download speed.

New Ubuntu Touch users

You will find instructions for installing Ubuntu Touch on your device at devices.ubuntu-touch.io.

"I found an issue!"

Have you found a bug? We want to know!

You can follow our Bug reporting document to learn how to present the information we'll need to confirm and fix your issue. Every bit helps. The best way to improve Ubuntu Touch is to use it and then tell us about the experience.

You should always check to see whether your bug has already been reported on ubports/ubuntu-touch on GitHub. Browsing open bugs is worth doing, even if you have nothing to report. This ensures that you can watch for any of the open issues and help fix them by providing more information.

Change log

A manually-compiled changelog of this release can be found at OTA-14 changelog on the UBports Forum.

Ubuntu Touch Q&A 87
OTA-14 in freeze, Pixel 3a XL