Canonical, the commercial sponsor for the Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, showcased an operating system in a brand new product category: mobile phones and tablets. While it's unclear how this operating system will fare against the Linux Android, what is clear is that there are many people who aren't satisfied with the relative duopoly on smartphone operating systems, and they want more options.
At first glance, the user interface may actually be a bit familiar to Android users, but the similarities end pretty quickly unless you're willing to look more closely at the coding of each operating system. Showcased on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Ubuntu responded to a series of swipes from each side of the screen to call out app, system, and control menus. Canonical promises the same on any mobile running this operating system.
So why should you be excited? Well, despite whatever Microsoft has touted as the first cross-platform OS, Ubuntu is far and away the closest thing to an operating system that's tailored both to mobile and desktop platforms. If you invest in a Ubuntu ecosystem, your phone experience will largely match that of any other device you own. Sure, it's not quite up to speed apps-wise (yet), but given Linux's open-source nature, it wouldn't be surprising for enthusiasts to figure out a way to fix that fairly quickly.
Canonical did not announce a firm release date, but it did offer those salivating over the release a small pittance: the full OS will be available sometime this year, and in the meantime, there is an app available for Android users.