Like the massively popular Android, this version of Ubuntu is based on the open source Linux operating system kernel. Unlike Android, however, Ubuntu does not require the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to operate, which, according to Canonical, should provide a performance boost to handsets running Ubuntu, compared to those running Android.
The company is also taking aim at Android's fragmentation issue, where different manufacturers offer incompatible customized versions of the OS. Canonical has promised to maintain the code base for multiple mobile platforms.
The design of the OS is novel among smartphone platforms in that each corner of the handset's touchscreen can be used to help navigate through the system. Swiping a thumb across the left hand side, for instance, brings up a tray of apps. And swiping down from the top of the screen will evoke a search service.
The Ubuntu smartphone OS will also offer the ability, on select hardware, to run a full-size desktop monitor, allowing it to potentially serve as a desktop computer.
The OS is compatible with many Android board support packages (BSPs), which are configuration settings for the handset hardware, making it ready to run on many existing mobile chipsets that currently run Android. It will work with handsets running either x86 or Arm processors.