Just as promised, anyone that's interested in trying out Ubuntu for phones will soon be able to do so, provided that they've got a Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4 laying around. Canonical announced today that the Touch Developer Preview of Ubuntu will be released on Feb. 21. In addition to the Galaxy Nexus, the preview will be made available to the Nexus 4, giving folks with Google's newest Nexus the chance to see Ubuntu in action as well. Tools for flashing a device with Ubuntu will also be made available on Feb. 21, giving interested users an easy way to keep up with the newest versions of the Ubuntu preview.
Canonical also detailed its Mobile World Congress plans today, revealing that show attendees will be able to have the Ubuntu preview flashed onto their devices by a Canonical team member. Ubuntu for phones is also expected to be demoed on "a range of devices" at the show. Mobile World Congress runs from Feb. 25 through Feb. 28.
As one could probably figure out from the name of this Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview, this upcoming release is intended to give devs an idea of what Ubuntu for phones is like to use and to give them a head start on preparing apps for it. Canonical says that once Ubuntu for phones officially launches, the same code ought to allow an app to run on an Ubuntu tablet, computer, TV or phone. It's expected that Ubuntu 13.10, which is due in October, will include "a complete entry-level smartphone experience."
The smartphone flavor of Ubuntu utilizes gestures to help a user get around. For example, the OS features something that Canonical calls "Edge magic," which lets the user access content and switch between apps by swiping from the different edges of a device's display. One such gesture is a swipe from the left side of the screen, which will bring up a favorite apps list and also allow users to jump to their home screen.
Ubuntu for phones looks like an interesting new mobile OS, and the fact that it bears the Ubuntu name could help it to gain some extra attention from both users and developers in the months ahead. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth recently said that Ubuntu-powered smartphones will begin shipping in October in two different markets, but so far it's not clear exactly which markets those are or what the devices will be like.