LINUX VENDOR Canonical has shown off its 'intent driven interface' for its Unity interface that will appear with Ubuntu 12.04.
Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu Project, introduced the head-up display (HUD) in Ubuntu's Unity user interface. Shuttleworth explained that the overlay is an intent aware interface, in that users are expected to type verbs rather than nouns into the search box.
Shuttleworth said of the HUD, "This concept of 'intent-driven interface' has been a primary theme of our work in the Unity shell, with dash search as a first class experience pioneered in Unity. Now we are bringing the same vision to the application, in a way which is completely compatible with existing applications and menus."
In a video demo, Canonical shows how its HUD can interact with third party applications as well as built-in Ubuntu functionality. Examples of third party application interaction include Mozilla's Firefox and Thunderbird, but most surprisingly there is a command-line version of the HUD.
Shuttleworth said that voice recognition for the HUD will be the next step for Canonical's developers. "We want to make it easy to talk to any application, and for any application to respond to your voice. The full integration of voice into applications will take some time. We can start by mapping voice onto the existing menu structures of your apps. And it will only get better from there," said Shuttleworth.
Canonical's decision to ship Unity as the default interface in Ubuntu has caused some in the community to look at other Linux distributions. However with its HUD, Canonical is showing that it is trying to do a lot more than just package up the wider community's efforts and build a support business.
Ubuntu 12.04 will be out in April and if Shuttleworth's claims hold up, the next four releases will see a maturing of its HUD interface. µ