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World’s first Ubuntu smartphone gets Facebook, Twitter and eBay backing

The first smartphone running an Ubuntu operating system will have some of the world’s most popular apps available from launch.

The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is available from Monday 9 February and vice president at Ubuntu backer Canonical, Cristian Parrino is keen for the device to have a robust app ecosystem.

Read more: Why can Ubuntu dethrone Android and iOS?

When asked about which apps would be available for the device, Parrino listed some of the industry’s big hitters.

"Several. Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Time Out, Yelp, as well as community developed apps working on Spotify and Dropbox APIs,” he told TechRadar. “Lots. Just about every digital platform, in some cases the top brand, others from valid alternatives".

Despite the high-profile support, WhatsApp, the hugely popular messaging service with more than 700 million monthly active users, will not be available, although approximately 1,000 other apps will be ready for the launch.

Mr Parrino stressed that Ubuntu Phone is not looking to mimic the iOS or Android landscape, but instead is keen to celebrate its differences. One of the ways in which it will distance itself from its competitors is through a new way of organising content and services into something called “Scopes.”

Traditionally, devices have displayed apps in grids, meaning users can have to flick through numerous screens to access the software they want. Scopes will instead integrate apps and services together into different home screens dependent on the content. For example, users may have a social media scope that collects all their networks into one place.

Parrino explained that the new feature is a key introduction for the Ubuntu platform.

"Scopes are a game changer for us,” he said. “They can be made at a fraction of the time it takes to make an app".

Read more: App downloads hindered by lack of trust

Native Ubuntu apps have to be built from scratch, so it may be some time before they have a software range to compete with the likes of Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Despite this, Canonical is working on making desktop Ubuntu apps easily ported to its smartphone OS.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.