10 New Features Added to Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

I had a less than ideal experience with Ubuntu 12.04 Alpha 2. But two recent updates have resolved almost all the issues I had with Ubuntu 12.04. A lot of new features and minor UI improvements keeps on coming in. Let's make of list of them all, shall we? So here is a quick roundup of everything that is new in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin.

whats new in Ubuntu 12.04 precise pangolin

Unity Dash's Home Screen has Changed

top things new in Ubuntu 12.04 precise pangolin
  • Unity Dash's default home screen has changed. Now, it shows 'Recent Apps' first, 'Recent Files' next and lastly, your most recent Downloads. Take a look at screenshot below and see how the Dash homescreen used to look like prior to recent changes.
Ubuntu 12.04 precise pangolin
  • The older one definitely looks classy, but I think the new updates has made the Unity dash a little bit more useful.
Unity Dash Quicklist
Unity Dash Quicklist
  • As if to compensate for the loss of older homescreen, Unity Dash now has quicklists support, which is really nice.
New Home Folder Quicklist

Home Folder Quicklist
  • This one is among the clear cut examples of the fact that, Canonical is constantly listening to feedback from its users and learning from their mistakes. 
  • Home menu quicklist is a really useful addition. This is something normal Ubuntu users like me have been asking for long. 
Brand New Video Lense

Video Lense Ubuntu 12.04
  • Apart from the usual three Unity lenses (Applications, Files and Music), there is now an additional Video lense too. (Keyboard Shortcut: Super + V)
  • It lets you select and play videos from a variety of sources ranging from your local collection to YouTube Movies, BBC iPlayer and TED Talks to name a few.
HUD is a Default Now

HUD is Default in Ubuntu 12.04
  • Mark Shuttleworth created quite a furore by announcing HUD (Head-Up Display) for Ubuntu earlier this year.
  • Mark Shuttleworth concluded that, HUD will eventually replace menus in Unity applications. This send shockwaves across the length and breadth of the community. 
  • A good majority of Ubuntu users still believed that, HUD will not find its way into Ubuntu until at least Ubuntu 12.10 is released. But to everyone's surprise, HUD is now an integral part of Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin.
  • HUD have not yet replaced menus in applications though. So no need to panic.
Launcher Icons Can Now be Resized

whats new in Ubuntu 12.04
  • Size of launcher icons can now be changed directly changed from 'Wallpapers' menu. No need to install CCSM just to do that anymore.
  • As you can also see, there is now an option to change the default Ubuntu 12.04 theme from the same window. Useful additions and nicely done too.
Default Launcher Behavior Changed

whats new in Ubuntu 12.04 precise pangolin
  • This is perhaps the biggest visible change to new Unity. Launcher won't be in the 'dodge windows' state anymore (by default) and instead will be 'always visible'.
  • This seems like a nice move since dodge windows functionality used to create all kinds of confusion among users, especially for newbies. 
  • But its execution leaves a lot to be desired. See the screenshot above where a good portion of the webpage is hidden and you need to scroll every time to see those portions. Very annoying. Expecting improvements to it in the near future.
  • But there's more.
Dodge Windows is Not Even an Option Anymore

Dodge Windows Removed from Ubuntu 12.04
  • In the same Appearance window we talked about earlier, there is now a new 'Behavior' tab where you can set the Launcher to autohide.
  • Dodge windows is not even an option anymore. It is completely removed. It will be interesting to see how regular users respond to these changes when Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin is finally released some time in April 2012.
Changes in Alt + Tab Behavior

Alt + Tab Behavior Changed in ubuntu 12.04
  • I initially thought it was a bug. Not anymore.
  • Initiating Alt + Tab shows you just the open windows in the current desktop and not from all the desktops like it used to be. 
  • I expect at least an option to change it to the previous setting before the final release.
Goodbye Banshee, Welcome Back Rhythmbox!

Rhythmbox in Ubuntu 12.04
  • The decision was taken during the last Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS). Rhythmbox has just replaced Banshee in Ubuntu 12.04.
  • Note taking application, Tomboy, has also been removed. Canonical seems serious about completely removing Mono from Ubuntu.
Other minor improvements: As we noted in our earlier Ubuntu 12.04 review, there are significant boot time improvements already in place and battery consumption has also improved (slightly). That's it for now. Good luck to Canonical and all the devs. Hoping for a rock star release. Thanks for reading. (Click on the screenshots to see them in full size).