Official launchpad branch's Unity Previews add fancy directly-into-the-dash preview functionalities for Ubuntu 12.10
Weeks ago, Quantal Quetzal ALPHA 3 was released, adding numerous changes and improvements, strengthening both the core apps and features, as well as its default shell Unity.
Nevertheless, it seems that Unity is to receive new exciting functionalities, along with the already announced web apps.
Across the latest Ubuntu development cycles, numerous users have requested a preview action of the exposed items in the Dash and/or the ability to right-click on items and perform various actions.
Unity Previews are a handy new addition to Unity, that allows users to preview items in the Dash by simply right-clicking on an item, meaning, opening the Dash and, while the mouse pointer is highlighting/selecting an item, right-clicking on an item summons a preview of the clicked item.
Along with a big image preview, the Previews display detailed informations (for apps), such as application name, version, number of reviews, description, date of installation, basically, an in-depth app description.
Sometimes, users install applications, use them and uninstall various not-useful-anymore applications; the uninstall process is usually performed by opening Ubuntu Software Center, searching the "targeted" app, accessing its details view and clicking
Right-clicking on a Dash item, opens its preview with image, descriptions and two clickable buttons,
Launch (clicking on it launch the previewed app) and
Uninstall (clicking on it, summons an authentication dialog, followed by the actual uninstall process), latter button that presents itself as a 1-click away manner of uninstalling apps, removing the need to open Ubuntu Software Center (and extra clicks), consequently, uninstalling an app is as simple as clicking
Uninstall and typing a password (without extra steps), the uninstall process being "hidden"/not perceivable by the user.
Unity Previews can be applied for every item displayed in the Dash (in the sense of clicking on items pushes them into a preview), nevertheless (at the moment) the only fully usable items are applications and music tracks (from Ubuntu One Music Store).
Unity Previews project is not a mere preview functionality, but acts as a versed full-of-potential container, where both details and actions are housed, actions exposed in relation to the previewed item, meaning, previewing an app, exposes
Launch, yet previewing a music track/album from Ubuntu One Music Store (via Unity Music lens), exposes a
Previewing an item, automatically groups items from their category into a preview sequence, meaning, previewing a recent app (while there are 26 Recent Apps), pushes the other 25 recent apps into a sequence, by using the navigation icon, one can easily navigate through them, furthermore, Unity Previews has been designed with "intelligence" in mind, meaning, previewing the fourth item from Recent Apps (while there are 4 Recent Apps), displays only the left navigation icon (meaning, an accurate app ordering has been implemented), thus reaching the "end" of a app category is properly perceived.
Unity Previews, along with the mentioned features, open the "door" to an unlimited creative ideas to be implemented, with numerous use cases (such as, clicking on a temperature icon via the Utilities lens, could trigger a preview for the item with city's most important touristic objectives, local history, Wikipedia data, clicking on a translated term via Unity Translator lens could expose its complete conjugation, synonyms, antonyms, etc).
Along with the work of Ubuntu developers on the new fresh exciting technology, third-party lens developers could harness the power of reviews in order to create new powerful lenses, such as a taking advantage of the big-sized image preview, ability to expose long portions of text (Unity Previews supports in its description the ability to scroll through the displayed text), item sequences with fast scroll, etc.
Unity Previews is to land in Ubuntu 12.10 in the near future.
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