The Plasma Mobile team has announced a number of updates to their user interface and suite of applications for mobile Linux devices. Among other things, there are updates to chat, music, and video apps, new features for the default web browser, and new applications for email, music streaming, and more.
Developers are also working to improve the look, feel, and performance of the Plasma Mobile shell itself, and developing new features including support for multiple pages on the home screen.
While the multi-page home screen is still a work in progress, some shell improvements that have made it into the latest versions of Plasma Mobile include a bug fix that allows light and bold font weights when using the default font, a two-stage notification/quick settings drawer, and improved lock screen performance and support for using text passwords as well as PINs to unlock your device.
There’s a new YouTube music player is an app called AudioTube, which can search YouTube Music for artists, albums, and other information and allow you to put together a playlist. Since there are no official mobile Linux apps for popular music services like Spotify, Apple Music, or Deezer, this app could help fill that niche.
If you’d rather actually play videos from YouTube, there’s already a Plasma Mobile app called Plasmatube that streams from YouTube without the need to fire up a web browser. Among other recent improvements, it now features video playback controls.
Another new app is called DayKountdown, and it’s basically a countdown timer with reminders to let you know when an upcoming event is imminent.
Kolibri is a new email client that’s a work-in-progress – you can currently use it to read emails, but not to write them. An email composer is under development though.
Meanwhile, some existing apps are seeing updates as well. The Angelfish web browser, for example, now support swipe-based navigation. You can swipe left or right across the navigation bar to go back to the previous web page or forward to the next one. From the tab drawer, you can also swipe left or right to close tabs. Angelfish also now supports hardware acceleration for improved graphics.
And the NeoChat application for Matrix chat has a new look with bubbles for messages, a context-menu that appears at the bottom of the screen when you long-press a message, and improved scrolling as well as improved support for keyboard usage.
You can find more details about recent changes to Plasma Mobile and its apps at the Plasma Mobile blog.
While one of the nice things about Linux phones is that you can choose from a range of different operating systems and user interfaces, Plasma Mobile is what you’ll see the first time you boot up Pine64’s new PinePhone Beta Edition smartphones. Pine64 selected Manjaro with Plasma Mobile as the default OS and UI for the phone, which means that it could be many people’s entry point to mobile Linux moving forward. So it’s nice to see development continuing at a pretty rapid clip.