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Hands-on with Ubuntu for phones and tablets (pictures)

Ubuntu is making the leap from PCs to smartphones and tablets this year, so we took the Android-rivaling software for a spin.

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Richard Trenholm
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Ubuntu is coming to smartphones and tablets. Let's take a look at the software that hopes to challenge Android. It launches on new phones like this one some time this year. Here's Ubuntu for phones and tablets running on a Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 slate, ahead of the arrival of the first phones, the Meizu MX3 and BQ Aquaris. The OS was previously known as Ubuntu Touch.
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Ubuntu is based around souped-up home screens called "scopes."
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Some scopes look familiar, like this gallery app gathering your videos.
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Here's the photo gallery.
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Scopes are sort of a cross between a home page, an app, and a widget, and can be themed like this soccer-celebrating World Cup scope.
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You can scroll through embedded carousels and tap to see more. Other possible uses include a scope made by your network or carrier to put your account profile, your bill, and useful links in one place.
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Here you can see your apps, with recently used apps at the top for quick access.
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Swipe in from the left for the app launcher, packed with your favorite shortcuts.
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Swipe up from the bottom when you're in an app for the app's menu.
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Swipe in from the right to scroll back and forth through your currently open apps with this multitasking carousel.
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The multitasking carousel doesn't disappear when you take your finger off the screen, so you can come back to it if you're interrupted.
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Swipe down from the top to see your notifications and status updates.
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As you swipe down, scroll sideways to see useful stuff such as recent messages or your network or battery status.
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Settings are also in the pull-down tray.
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Here you can see how long your battery is going to last.
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Ubnutu is designed to be the same on phones and tablets.
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One unique tablet feature is this multitasking window.
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Pull the multitasking window in from the right and you can use the app without leaving the main app, perhaps doing a quick calculation or checking a message.
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Ubuntu on tablet.
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The first two phones to bring Ubuntu to consumers will be the Spanish-made BQ Aquaris, pictured on the left, and the Chinese Meizu MX3.

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