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Google Nexus 7 and 10 first to try new Ubuntu tablet OS

Ubuntu for tablets is a new operating system for slates, and you can try it out on your Google Nexus 7 or Nexus 10.

Ubuntu for tablets is a new operating system for slates, joining Ubuntu for phones -- and you can try out features such as phone apps sharing the screen with tablet apps on your Google Nexus 7 or Nexus 10.

Although it's optimised for the ARM chips that power tablets, the tablet version of the OS shares most of its code with desktop Ubuntu. That means you should be able to dock your phone or tablet with TV, computer or keyboard and the interface will adapt accordingly.

With Side Stage, you can put phone and tablet apps side-by-side on your tablet screen to multi-task to your heart's content. Maybe you need to consult a website and a map or note app at the same time -- or maybe an app doesn't come in tablet form yet and you want to pair it with another app.

You navigate with gestures at the edge of the screen, so there's no physical buttons and no home button required. The software is based around a universal hub for search, apps and your music and movies and other stuff, with a notification centre that uses sideways swipes to access your email, tweets and settings.

There's support for multiple users so you can share the tablet round the family and visitors, and there's voice control using the Ubuntu HUD interface. Check out the video to see it in action, starting with the short version:

And, if you want more, here's the long version -- or read on to find out when you can try it out.

I say you can do all these things, but at the moment there's nothing to do it on. The Ubuntu tablet OS will work on slates ranging from 6 to 20 inches, but no manufacturers have been announced yet to build either tablets or phones.

In the meantime, however, you can try out the tablet preview on your Nexus 7 or Nexus 10 slate when the developer preview turns up on 21 February. You can also try the phone OS preview on your Google Nexus 4 or Galaxy Nexus -- and we'll be trying it out next week at Mobile World Congress, the annual phone trade show.

What do you think of Ubuntu OS? Can it win over tablet fans who aren't persuaded by Android? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.