It is always exciting when new versions of Unity are released since they bring along bug fixes and new features. Well Unity 5.4 was released on Friday. Let's go through some the features and bug fixes it comes with.
New Notify-Osd notifications
The notifications now behave similar to the dash and the launcher by taking the same median color. The notifications blend in nicely with the wallpaper just like the dash and the launcher. This increases the consistency with other Ubuntu elements like the dash and the launcher.
Heads-up Display (HUD)
The HUD is now present by default. You no longer need to enable a testing PPA to try out HUD. That said, it is not sure if the HUD would be available by default in the final release of Precise in April. Naturally, the HUD brings along many bug fixes and is better than before. However, after been using HUD for few days now, it still has a long way to go.
Unity Launcher behavior – Intellihide (Dodge)
Intellihide has been removed since it was found to confuse new users. Hence, the launcher only supports autohide and always show behavior. It is disappointing to see this feature removed since it made unity really space efficient by hiding only when obstructing windows and otherwise shown. There have been some bug reports regarding this on launchpad. You can support the bug report here. (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ayatana-design/+bug/930148).
The video lens is a new lens which is now installed by default in Precise. The video lens developed by David Calle shows videos present on your computer and also videos online. At the moment there are a couple of online sources like Vimeo, Youtube Education, Youtube Movies, BBC iplayer etc. There are plans to introduce more sources. Also some sources like BBC iplayer are region specific. In the future these sources would be hidden based on the IP address of the user.
The dash brings some small visual improvements as shown in the screenshots below.
The first screenshot above shows the highlight when you hover over the category heading. This is helpful to indicate which has focus when you use keyboard navigation. The second screenshot above shows the lenses which now can be selected more easily.
There have been some visual tweaks to the tooltips, quicklists and the dash controls. They look more professional and elegant.
Chameleonic behavior of dash, workspace, trash and mounted device icons
The system specific icons on the launcher like the workspace, trash, dash and the mounted devices now showcase a chameleonic behavior. This can be seen in the launcher shown.
This summarizes many of the visual changes present in Unity 5.4. There have been some performance improvements and memory leak issues fixed under the hood. The Ubuntu developers are trying to perfect Unity looking at every small detail to enhance the user experience. It definitely doesn't stop here. Unity 5.6 is being cooked at the moment. You can follow the progress of Unity 5.6 at https://launchpad.net/unity/+milestone/5.6.0.
What do you think of Unity? Would you use it as your desktop environment?