When Mark Shuttleworth announced HUD, I had my worries. Unity itself needed a lot of work to be further polished. In a recent interview with Mark at MWC I asked about the worried around HUD and he explained his vision of HUD. So, let me get one thing out of our way 'HUD is not going to replace the traditional menus'. In his exact words:
"It is completely complementary so menus aren't going away."
HUD, in my opinion if done well can really redefine the desktop as Mark says. I was working on a film with my editor, who was using Sony Vegas Pro 11 and he was bragging about a new feature when you try to render a project. In addition to the traditional Tree View, there was now a search box where you can search for what kind of settings you want for your rendered project and we selected from the list that was presented as the search result. I don't know if that was a new featutre of Sony Vegas Pro 11 or it has been there for a while, but...
I thought of HUD.
If a typical video editor is excited by this feature how much excitement will be there when HUD enters mainstream computing.
As a heavy GIMP user, where there are gazillions of filters, I don't remember the name of each filter and rely on the tree structure of the menu. If there is a feature like HUD, it will make it easy for someone to easily search for some known filter. Gladly GIMP already has a feature called 'Plugin Browser' which shows your the tree view of plugins as well as offer a search box to allows you to search a plugin if you don't know it's location. Other applications can take advantage of HUD and give a unique experience to GNU/Linux users.
HUD on Ubuntu TV?
HUD can be very useful for Ubuntu TV. I don't know what plans Canonical has for Ubuntu TV, but this is what I can think of. If there is a regular TV remote along with a full qwerty keyboard (or an Android app which works as TV remote over WiFi) it will change the entire TV experience. You won't have to jump to channel #223 to watch Discovery. You won't have to remember the 'number' of channels anymore. Just hit the 'd' key and it will list all the channels that start with D.
After talking with Mark, I have my doubts cleared and I think HUD holds great potential and will redefine the way we use PC.
As Mark said, "We think that if we can really innovate with the HUD the way we believe we can innovate with the HUD, that you will never user menus. So one day in future if they disappear you won't notice. But they will probably be always around. "