Canonical announced a version of Ubuntu for smartphones on Wednesday, showing of the software on a Galaxy Nexus(s goog) handset. The company is mostly known for its user-friendly Linux desktop operating system: Ubuntu is among the most popular Linux distributions and some hardware makers have sold computers with Ubuntu instead of Microsoft Windows(s msft). Canonical expects actual phones running Ubuntu near the end of 2013 although a build for some smartphones, such as the Nexus, will become available in a few weeks.

Based on press videos I’ve seen so far, Ubuntu on a phone looks as polished as iOS(s aapl) and open as Android(s goog), which could make for an attractive combination. The platform doesn’t require a hardware button for the home screen or task switching. Instead, users swipe from the edge of the phone display for in app navigation, settings and the home screen. Web and native apps will…

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