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Using the edges: Swipe the Ubuntu Touch's right edge to unlock it.
For starters, under the UI, there's the Mir display server and windows manager. Above it, there's the Unity 8 shell. Ubuntu has been using this shell on the desktop for years. A major difference from other device interfaces is that you start most activities by using the interface's edges rather than icons. For example, to unlock the phone, you swipe from the right edge.
You use the top edge to get to Ubuntu Touch's settings.
To access your smartphone's indicators, you swipe down from the top edge. This includes, from left to right on the top bar, GPS, Wi-Fi/cellular data settings, mail, the battery, volume, and time and date. Once you swipe, you'll be able to access these functions from icons that appear on the main display.
To hop out of Ubuntu Touch's settings, swipe upward.
Once done with settings, you swipe upwards and the settings disappear and the indicators reappear into the top bar.