Once again Canonical has tasked a team with performing maintenance of the Unity (desktop shell) stack for the upcoming Saucy Salamander release of Ubuntu. Once again, the focus is on user interface polish and bug fixes. My team was dedicated exclusively to that effort for the Ubuntu 13.04 release cycle and judging from the complaints in the media (and, um, elsewhere involving a naked truth few of us wish to see) about how there was nothing exciting in Unity and it just worked, it was a big success. Kudos go to Andrea, Brandon, Chris, Marco, Nick, the tireless Sam, to John and Didier, and to the many other faceless members of the Ubuntu community who did what they did to make Unity snappy and smooth.
We shipped Unity 7.0 in Ubuntu 13.04. The version we’re going to ship in Ubuntu 13.10 is Unity 7.1.
I don’t want to mislead you here: there is some new functionality coming and in fact has already landed in release previews. What most people will notice is something we’ve been calling “100 scopes”, which is a greatly expanded set of sources for your searches. I’m not sure if there are actually one hundred sources or if it’s a good deal more or less, it’s just a name, but it does seem like there are significantly more data sources that are used to satisfy your queries.
One of the other aspects of this “100 scopes” work is that many of the back ends — processes that run in the background performing searches for you so the graphics user interface will continue to operate smoothly — were rewritten to reduce the amount of memory and CPU they consume.
Some of the other upcoming new functions being added include the ability to purchase items from their source directly through the Dash. In other words, you can search for what you desire using the Dash, select a result, and purchase it directly from, say, Amazon, without even opening up your browser.
Some other changes are going on behind the scenes, mostly related to the exciting mobile-desktop convergence store that’s at the heart of Ubuntu’s future. That, however, is another story for another day.