Ubuntu Software Center had a complete makeover recently. But I have to admit, even with all those changes, it still feels unfinished. In our earlier Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot review, we did shared our concern with the unfinished nature of Ubuntu Software Center and had promised a more elaborate take on the issue. So here is it, things I would like to see improved in the next iteration of Ubuntu Software Center. Read on.
What Can be Improved in Ubuntu Software Center?
I am aware that many of the critical features which were available in Synaptic is still missing in Ubuntu Software Center. But then, that is something they are actively working on. Below, we will discuss about the UI and basic functionalities related improvements of Software Center.
Faster Loading Time
Most among you must be familiar with the above picture. In its current form, Ubuntu Software Center takes up an awful lot of time to load. It is estimated to be somewhere around 12 seconds! Unsurprisingly, bringing down the Software Center loading time is one of the important changes finalised for next Ubuntu 12.04 "Precise Pangolin" during the just concluded Ubuntu Developer Summit(UDS). They are talking about bringing it down to less than 2 seconds! If they manage to achieve anything even closer, it's going to be awesome.
Show Prices of Apps in the Listing Itself
If you sort applications by 'For Purchase' category you will see a list of applications with no obvious indication of price. But in the home page, you could see applications with rating and price displayed below it. This same thing can be found in almost all categories when displayed as a vertical list. Small but necessary feature I think.
Theme-wise, the new Ubuntu Software Center is brilliantly integrated with default Ubuntu look and feel. But there are many inconsisties in the way Software Center works. Take for example the search box on top. When you select and app from Software Center, search box suddenly dissappears. I am not sure if there is any sort of reasoning behind the ommission. From a user point of view, I feel that the ommission was unnecessary.
Why No Home button?
If you go down two or three levels inside Ubuntu Software Center, you will notice that there are no UI clues on how to be back at home screen. Actually, clicking on the 'All Software' button wil take you to the home screen, but I didn't had any clue till I accidentally clicked on it once. I don't mind a small home icon somewhere in the top panel.
'Related Apps' Category is Missing
Take a cue from the Android Market. When you select an application in Android Market, it not only includes the screenshots and user-reviews of the application, but a whole bunch of categories such as "Users who viewed this also viewed", "Users who installed this also installed" and "More from developer". It even includes statistics on the popularity of that particular application. Some of the things Ubuntu can also emulate.