Ubuntu Touch is the privacy and freedom-respecting mobile operating system by UBports. The release of Ubuntu Touch OTA-16, the sixteenth stable system update, has just been announced!
OTA-16 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 2, F(x)tec Pro1, Xiaomi Redmi Note 7, Xiaomi Mi A2, Volla Phone, Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo+ (GT-I9301I), Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
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-16”.
OTA-16 is the second largest version of Ubuntu Touch ever (OTA-4, downgrade from Ubuntu 15.04 to 16.04, is the biggest).
In this release, UBports has updated the installed version of the Qt framework from version 5.9.5 to version 5.12.9. Qt is a huge part of Ubuntu Touch, and using it saves developers a huge amount of time creating software that can scale between phones, tablets, and desktops. The update brought developers back into Qt’s long-term support cycle and provided a number of new features that could be used in the Ubuntu Touch and Lomiri operating environment.
Over 1/3 of the binary packages contained in Ubuntu Touch have changed in this release! This includes not only the various Qt libraries, but also packages that Qt libraries depend on.
Updating the Qt version in use and its dependent packages helped prepare developers to move to Ubuntu 16.04 -> Ubuntu 20.04.
Morph, Ubuntu Touch’s default web browser, has received a number of excellent upgrades during this cycle.
Kugi completely overhauled the Downloads system, a much-needed change. Instead of a full-screen page interrupting your browsing at the start and completion of a download, there is now a simple headerbar icon to alert you of the download’s progress. The icon turns blue and shakes when your downloads have finished.
The downloads page has also been supplemented with a “Recent Downloads” panel. This panel shows any downloads which have been started during the current browsing session.
Speaking of the current browsing session, a control has been added to the tab management page which allows reopening the most recently closed tab.
Chris re-enabled custom user agents in the browser and added a checkbox which allows you to “Always Deny” location access to a webpage. He also fixed the webpage zoom controller, fixing a problem where the page’s zoom didn’t always follow your settings.
It is now easier than ever to use Morph in a tablet or desktop situation. Tabs are taller and easier to hit, and the browser won’t rotate itself whenever its window is taller than it is wide.
Making devices more ready for your pocket.
The upgrade of Qt to 5.12 allowed us to finally integrate the gst-droid work that Ratchanan has been working on for what feels like forever. This brought video recording support to 32-bit Android 7 devices. The newer GStreamer support also allowed us to bring up a hardware accelerated camera viewfinder on the PinePhone.
Alfred enabled video recording on the Sony Xperia X and fixed problems with call audio being too loud on the OnePlus 3 and Xperia X.
If you’re a device porter with Android 7 devices and they *don’t* support video recording yet, ask in the UBports Porting group on Telegram. It might only need a couple of configuration changes to enable camcorder on your device.
Changes for app developers
Qt 5.12 brings its own changes to app development, including a number of performance improvements and new features. However, developers also removed the Oxide web rendering engine with this release.
Oxide was a Chromium-based web rendering engine created at Canonical for the “Ubuntu for Devices” project. After Canonical dropped that, we knew that we would not be able to maintain the rendering engine.
The default web browser switched from Oxide to QtWebEngine in OTA-5, released on October 12, 2018. Since then, developers have been warned people not to use the Oxide rendering engine or Ubuntu.Web, its simpler QML component counterpart. The replacements for these are importing QtWebEngine or, even better, using the Morph.Web wrapper.
With Oxide removed, any applications which depend on it directly will cease to function. Apps which used Ubuntu.Web may still work, but will likely have unforseen problems. If you’re an app developer and you’ve got an app which depends on Oxide, UBports can help you make the transition to QtWebEngine. Find us at forums.ubports.com, (at)UbuntuAppDevEN on Telegram, or #ut_appdev:matrix.org on Matrix.
Anbox installers included by default
The Anbox installer is now included with Ubuntu Touch. This allows users of supported Anbox devices to use Anbox without modifying the Ubuntu Touch root filesystem. It will also prevent Anbox installations breaking with every update.
Note that Anbox itself is not installed by default, and it will not run unless it is installed. To install Anbox, see “How to install” on our Android apps documentation.
All fixes and information on what’s new in the next updates can be found on the UBports website: https://ubports.com/blog/1/post/ubuntu-touch-ota-16-release-3744