This is no ordinary Galaxy Nexus. Instead of Android, it's running a very different Linux-based OS -- the long-awaited mobile version of Ubuntu -- which comes with a new UI adapted for smaller screens. We've played with the phone briefly and we'll have a proper hands-on video for you shortly, but in the meantime there are a few salient features to report. First and foremost, the UI relies heavily on edge swipes instead of buttons -- much like Windows 8 on a tablet or indeed other mobile OS's like MeeGo, although here each swipe has its own Ubuntu-esque functions. Beyond that, the icons along the top have some interesting features, which will be explained after the break. We're also told that voice control is in attendance, and that an app store is in the works, with a mix of both web apps and native apps -- with the latter type being able to make better use of the hardware.
Speaking of hardware, here's where you might get a twinge of disappointment: there are no immediate plans for actual Ubuntu phones, and no carriers have been signed up yet. Any new phone built for Android with at least a dual Cortex-A9 cores, a gig of RAM and 800 x 400 resolution could run this OS, should a manufacturer see merit in installing Ubuntu instead, and high spec 720p, quad-core phones should do wonders with it. Meanwhile, rather like Ubuntu for Android, this is still an idea looking for a device -- but as ideas go, our initial impression is that it looks like a bright one, especially if you dig Linux and open source. We're told the Galaxy Nexus-compatible build will be available for download within the next few weeks, and Mark Shuttleworth is optimistic that actual devices will ship sometime in early 2014 -- which is quite a ways away. For now, check out the press release, gallery and publicity video after the break.Ubuntu for phones