Friday, August 27, 2010

Unity part 2

So I've had pretty much a full week now of dogfooding on Unity, and no major problems. Overall, I think it's a step in the right direction for a netbook interface, which it was intended for. It makes good use of the limited space on these screens, has enough eye-candy to keep up with the alternatives out there, and has buttons on the side that are potentially large enough to be finger friendly. I think things like that will become increasingly important as more devices become available with touch screens. It's been inevitable for years now, as people get more and more used to things like touch and gestures on their smartphones. This would need to come quite a ways more for a touchscreen-only interface, but for a netbook it's just about right.

One thing I did find interesting was a few days ago when my wife looked at it, having never seen unity before. She had something she needed to figure out quickly on a calculator, and said "how do I get to a calculator on this thing?" It was a good question, as it's probably not immediately obvious to someone who's never used this interface before. Getting to common apps like a web browser, email, etc are easy. They are right there on the bar with easily identifiable icons. Anything else? For that you have to know which one of those icons is for applications. Then you have to search for it. The easiest way seems to be to use the search box and start typing, but I've had it still not find certain things that way (gnome-display-properties for example). I think having an obvious, easy to use, place to click to get to those applications that are not on the dock would be a big win here.

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