Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 Release

Ubuntu Touch is the privacy and freedom respecting mobile operating system by UBports. Today we are happy to announce the release of Ubuntu Touch OTA-15, our fifteenth stable update to the system! OTA-15 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
          Google Pixel 3a
          OnePlus Two
          F(x)tec Pro1 / Pro1 X
          Xiaomi Redmi Note 7
          Volla Phone

          The Pine64 PinePhone and PineTab are updated independently of the rest of these devices. The stable channel for the PinePhone and PineTab will not receive an update labeled "OTA-15".

          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:

          Google Pixel 3a by Alfred
          OnePlus Two by Vince
          F(x)tec Pro1 / Pro1 X by "Danct12", "NotKit", Marius, F(x)tec, and friends
          Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 by Danct12
          Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (Sprint/T-Mobile/No Carrier) by "Tygerpro"

          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 does not yet have a "stable" update channel. We are working on a new set of standards which will allow device maintainers to receive a "Stable" update channel for their devices; please stay tuned.

          What's new?

          If you were around during the time of Ubuntu for Devices, developed by Canonical, you've probably heard of OTA-1 through OTA-15 before. OTA-N was the naming we adopted from Canonical for our updates, and for some reason we decided to start again at "one". Canonical's OTA-15 fixed a few High and Critical priority issues, but it was widely regarded as a "hotfix" release. It arrived on February 7, 2017 and was the final update shipped by Canonical for Ubuntu for Devices. Our OTA-15 arrived on December 16, 2020 and we don't plan on stopping any time yet!

          Android 9 device improvements

          The Volla Phone is shipping to new users and we wished to give them the best possible experience. To that end, we've fixed some longer-standing bugs in Ubuntu Touch when run on devices with an Android 9 hardware compatibility layer.

          We (re)discovered a kernel configuration change that must be made to allow smooth audio playback and applied it to the Volla Phone. This solves a problem where audio frequently dropped out or made popping sounds.

          A configuration issue in oFono which prevented the system from auto-configuring mobile data APN settings was fixed. Any users who have already used a SIM in their Volla Phone but would like to auto-configure their APNs may select the "Reset All APN Settings..." button in Settings -> Cellular -> Carrier & APN -> APN.

          Pictures taken with the Volla Phone's front camera are now rotated correctly.

          Finally, sending USSD codes which are used to check phone tariff status or provide other carrier-specific services has been fixed in this update.

          Morph Browser

          The Morph web browser gained some new tricks and interface refinements in this update however everyone will likely notice its shiny new icon first.

          Once the initial awe of that experience (courtesy of Joan "Cibersheep") has passed, you may swipe up from the bottom of the screen to switch tabs and notice that the feelings are coming back for round two.

          Daniel Kutka has completely redesigned the tab switching interface to allow tabs to be swiped away rather than closed with the small "X" touch area. These changes also fixed the tab preview interface, enabling you to see the tab that you are switching to before it's opened.

          Additionally, Chris made some fixes to Morph to fix technical debt, reorder the "Domain Settings" interface by the most recently used domain, and allow JavaScript to access the Ubuntu Touch clipboard.

          MMS error reporting

          From the time that the Nuntium MMS receiver was created, it has been a bit flaky at best. Work is ongoing to fix Nuntium's many problems with the aim of enabling perfect reception of MMS messages, but we realized that we need to enumerate its problems fully. To aid this, Lionel Duboeuf and "jEzEk" have implemented an error handling routine between Nuntium and the messaging service to report faults around MMS reception.

          We understand that experiencing any such errors is not ideal, especially for users who do not have the technical expertise to troubleshoot them. However, we believe that notifying an error condition is better than letting it silently fail as we've done before. With the error reported, it is possible at least to know that someone tried to send you a message, so you can let them know you didn't receive it.

          Watch the MMS space in our coming releases, as "jEzEk" and Lionel are still working on the lost MMS story with new updates from that sub-project weekly. Hopefully we will see stable MMS reception in Ubuntu Touch soon!

          More improvements

          That's not all, of course. We also have diverse changes throughout the system which we know you'll love.

          Ratchanan finally got fed up with the "Redial last called number" button not working on his Bluetooth headset and fixed it. Now it is possible to dial calls from Bluetooth devices, including some car infotainment systems which provide an interface to browse your phone's contacts. Unfortunately, whilst dialing calls was fixed, the subsequent call audio is still broken. Some devices will still have trouble connecting two-way audio, and some have even reported adverse effects when trying it. For example, the Nexus 5 may play loud static over the Bluetooth headset instead of the caller's audio. Please try a test call (while you are in a safe place!) and report the result back to us before trying to take a call while driving.

          Ratchanan also added a Thai input method to our on-screen keyboard. It does not have autocorrection, but this is an excellent addition for our Thai users. Thank you, Ratchanan!

          If you are using a device with an arm64 build of Ubuntu Touch, you may have noticed that missed calls were reported by the caller's number rather than by their contact name. This issue has also now been fixed.

          Joan "Cibersheep," Mateo Salta, Michele "mymike00", and Kugi Eusebio have continued their work to make the default Ubuntu Touch system more cohesive and beautiful (with a slant towards improving the dark theme).

          Joan also created the mascot for this release, the Tangram Goat.

          Thank you, translators!

          We don't often get to thank our hearty team of translators, which is bad of us. Ubuntu Touch is available for use in 50 languages and dialects thanks to your efforts. You make it possible for people who don't have a knowledge of any of the languages used by our core developers to nevertheless make full use of Ubuntu Touch along with the rest of us.

          If you'd like to join our excellent translation team, please check out the relevant documentation at docs.ubports.com.

          What's next?

          The Focal Fossa

          When we upgraded Ubuntu Touch from Ubuntu 15.04 to Ubuntu 16.04, we unavoidably kicked a number of cans down the road. That included decisions to row back on or simply not implement a number of projects that Canonical had lined up for their move to 16.04 before dropping the project. This made it easier for us to upgrade that time, but will make it more difficult next time. Some preparations have been made for the move to a newer base (see the Qt 5.12 section below), but there are some kicked cans yet to be retrieved...

          Now we are preparing for the transition from 16.04 to a 20.04 base, knowing of course that 16.04 only has 4 months of non-ESM support left. It is unlikely we will be able to complete the transition in that time, which will mean releasing stable Ubuntu Touch 16.04 updates after its official end-of-life date. We appreciate that this is not ideal, but we prefer to be up front about it.

          During the transition from 16.04 to 20.04, you may see the pace of improvements to Ubuntu Touch slow. The UBports Foundation paid Ubuntu Touch project team will continue to review and merge work from our community, but our direct effort on the project will be more and more directed towards that transition over coming months.

          Again, stable Ubuntu Touch updates will continue, but they may lack headlining new features and they will be based on a by then unsupported upstream Ubuntu release. Just as when we were using 15.04, we'll be on our own for a while.

          As always, if you have questions about Ubuntu Touch or our plans, you can find us on forums.ubports.com, @ubports on Telegram, and #ubports:matrix.org through Element or your preferred Matrix client.

          Qt 5.12 (for real this time)

          If our work on this over the past few months finally comes to fruition, OTA-16 will mark the update where we upgrade fully 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 for apps and system software, and finally bring us in line with our next targeted Ubuntu release ~ Ubuntu 20.04. With matched components upgrading from our current 16.04 base becomes much simpler.

          We had intended the full Qt 5.12 update for OTA-15, but more urgent priorities got in the way of a timely and properly tested release, so we held off until OTA-16.

          Goodbye, Oxide!

          App developers please note: there are changes coming to Ubuntu Touch in OTA-16 that you must prepare for! OTA-16 will be the first release of Ubuntu Touch without the old, outmoded Oxide web rendering engine. If you have an app which uses Oxide, it will no longer work as from 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 update it. If they don't, you will need to find an alternative.

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

          Based on our 6-8 week release cycle, OTA-16 should arrive between the last week of January and the middle of February 2021.

          How to get OTA-15

          Existing Ubuntu Touch users

          Existing users of Ubuntu Touch on `Stable` channel (which is selected by default in the UBports Installer) will receive the OTA-15 upgrade through the Updates screen of System Settings. Devices will randomly receive the update starting today through December X?. 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 should then 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](http://docs.ubports.com/en/latest/contribute/bugreporting.html) 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](https://github.com/ubports/ubuntu-touch/issues). 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.


          The changelog for this release can be found as "Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 Changelog" on the UBports Forum.

          Ubuntu Touch Q&A 90
          OTA-15 in testings, Pinephone 5.10 kernel testings, Miroil work