Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth reports that a new Head-Up Display, or HUD computer menu system, will be implemented into the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release scheduled to go live in April. The new HUD feature will replace current menus in Unity applications, providing a faster way to access menus in applications. Instead of clicking through menus, users simply type the command they require in a search box.
According to Shuttleworth, the new HUD can actually learn the actions a user most often requests and prioritize options for commands based on past use. HUD also covers system functionality, meaning users can play and pause music, or even change their IM status or go offline without having to access Skype directly, as an example.
"It’s a way for you to express your intent and have the application respond appropriately," he writes. "We think of it as 'beyond interface,' it’s the 'intenterface.' This concept of 'intent-driven interface' has been a primary theme of our work in the Unity shell, with dash search as a first class experience pioneered in Unity. Now we are bringing the same vision to the application, in a way which is completely compatible with existing applications and menus."
Shuttleworth indicates that voice input will be added, but not at its full potential when the HUD arrives in April. "The full integration of voice into applications will take some time," he writes. "We can start by mapping voice onto the existing menu structures of your apps. And it will only get better from there."
Given it's the end of January, there’s still a lot of design and code still to do in regards to getting HUD ready for an April release. The team, which includes individuals who understand Gtk and Qt such as Ted Gould, Ryan Lortie, Gord Allott and Aurelien Gateau, as well as designers Xi Zhu, Otto Greenslade, Oren Horev and John Lea, still hasn't addressed the secondary aspect of the menu, as a visible map of the functionality in an app.
"We’ll make sure it’s easy for developers working in any toolkit to take advantage of this and give their users a better experience," Shuttleworth writes. "And we’ll promote the apps which do it best – it makes apps easier to use, it saves time and screen real-estate for users, and it creates a better impression of the free software platform when it’s done well."
To read the full blog, head here.