Canonical has introduced its first full version of its Ubuntu phone platform, which unlike other operating systems, uses the same base software as its desktop and TV counterparts.
The announcement forms part of Canonical's desire to have one platform for all screens: television, tablet, laptop and smartphone.
Clearly looking to kick off the new year with a bang, Mark Shuttleworth, creator of Ubuntu and founder of Canonical, introduced the software in London on Wednesday evening.
"The thing that makes Ubuntu different, unique, in the world is a convergence mission," Shuttleworth said. "We deeply believe all these different types of computing - phones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs, servers, cloud, supercomputers - can in fact run off one common platform."
The OS, which Shuttleworth said treats native and web apps as 'equal citizens', is being pitched at a variety of users. For manufacturers that want to aim low-end devices at emerging or developing markets, Shuttleworth said the platform offers a cheap route to market. The Canonical founder also said the OS is simple to use, something he described as essential; Shuttleworth added that he thought Android was overly complicated in places.
Shuttleworth also said the company had chosen to work with old hardware deliberately to show that the requirements of the system are low, should manufacturers wish to take the low-end route.
However, while Canonical talked up the OS's prospects in the cheaper end of the market, it also envisages the system being used on high-end 'superphones' that offer multi-core processors and full desktop convergence.
The first handset to run only the Ubuntu OS is not likely to arrive before the start of 2014; Shuttleworth confirmed the company currently had no commitments from manufacturers or operators. (Canonical has also developed Ubuntu for Android, which should start making it to market a little later in 2013.)
At the announcement, Ubuntu was shown running on a Galaxy Nexus, pictured adove showing the welcome screen.
The welcome screen has a constantly changing and evolving pattern behind the on-screen notifications, which cycle through showing you things like missed calls, messages received and other updates.
Opening up the device you are taken to the home screen, which houses pretty much what you'd expect to see: a list of your apps, calling, texting, emailing and media options and a recently used apps list.
Shuttleworth also said the platform as a whole offers an advantage over others as it doesn't require a Java Virtual Machine (such as Dalvik in Android). Ubuntu OS also supports ARM and x86-based devices.
Canonical has built functionality into each side of the screen so that swiping from any edge performs an action. For example swiping left to right (pictured) brings up a list of the most recently used apps, whereas swiping from right to left returns you to whatever you were doing last, similar to the way in which the back button works on Windows Phone.
Swiping down from the top shows any notifications you have in the bar and allows you to switch between areas of the phone like contacts, dialler, messages etc, whereas swiping up from the bottom brings up a list of options for any app that you have open.
While the Ubuntu platform shows any apps that you already have installed, it differs from other mobile operating systems by showing apps that are available to download from the store but not yet installed.
Thanks to Ubuntu's existing platform heritage the company has many of the factors in place that could otherwise prove troublesome to a new entrant to the mobile market, such as cloud services and knowledge of app stores. Nonetheless, Canonical will need to get developers on board to build native apps for the platform, as apps currently in the Ubuntu store won't work without modification.
While Shuttleworth talked of treating HTML5-based web apps and native apps as equal citizens on the platform, he also said that native apps are currently the way to get the best performance out of a device.
Pictured above is the native Gallery app found on the Ubuntu OS as standard. Taking the native route also allows for a greater range of functionality, for example, allowing voice-controlled searches within an app.