Ubuntu itself may still be a long way away from running on a phone or tablet. But that isn't stopping Canonical from trying to establish a foothold in the Android market via Ubuntu One, which just saw the release of a new version of its Android app boasting a host of updated features. Here's the scoop.

Ubuntu One, which comes preinstalled on the operating system, allows file syncing across multiple devices, à la Dropbox. It also incorporates some other features, such as a music store, that set it apart from other data-storage platforms.

Although the basic version of Ubuntu One is free, users can pay for an enhanced plan that offers more storage space and music streaming. As Canonical's only for-purchase service tailored to individuals running desktop Ubuntu, there can be little doubt at this point that Ubuntu One is central to the company's effort to generate a revenue stream from the desktop version of its operating system.

Ubuntu One and Android

There may come a day when Ubuntu itself runs on Android devices. But since the operating system so far has made little concrete headway in the world of phones, tablets and other highly mobile devices, Canonical has opted for the next-best strategy of gaining a presence in the Android world via an Ubuntu One app for that platform.

The most recent version of the Ubuntu One Files app for Android, which debuted this week and is available for free from Google Play, introduces several enhancements beyond the basic file-syncing features present in earlier iterations of the software. It now integrates more easily with photo-sharing services such as Instagram, and also boasts better power management and interface improvements.

Despite these fun new features, user reviews on Google Play suggest there still may be some kinks to work out in the latest version of the Ubuntu One Android app. Complaints about having to log in each time the app is run are plentiful, as are reports of crashes. Nonetheless, it enjoys a decidedly positive rating overall.

In addition, the sheer number of reviews implies that many more people are using Ubuntu One than one may have thought. With more than 2,200 ratings so far for the Android app alone, it seems that the service is actually quite popular. Of course, the number of users relying on Ubuntu One for serious production purposes may be fewer, and those willing to pay for value-added versions of the service likely constitute only a fraction of total users.

Nonetheless, despite some apparent technical flaws, the new release of the app suggests that Ubuntu One is a service Canonical intends to continue to develop aggressively, and to which users have responded positively overall. This is a space to watch as Ubuntu continues to evolve from a simple Linux distribution into a complete, cloud-centric ecosystem unto itself.