HUD = How Ubuntu Disappoints?
Canonical's Ubuntu Linux distribution is bringing another UI change into play in the upcoming Ubuntu version 12.04 LTS (Long Term Support). This new feature, termed "HUD" (Head-Up Display), will "ultimately replace menus in Unity applications", according to Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu's creator. Unity is the new-look desktop unveiled in the last two versions of Ubuntu, and which created quite a stir.
Unity was a considerable shift from the older default Gnome desktop, which had a Windows-like feel. Unity is a tile-based interface that bears a resemblance to Windows 8's new "Metro" interface. The desktop in Ubuntu version 12.04 will have the HUD, but likely still have menus, as the Ubuntu team attempts to wean users from depending on them.
HUD is an attempt to remove clutter and works by having users type searches for applications and commands, aided by "fuzzy matching" and auto-complete. Shuttleworth says; "It’s a way for you to express your intent and have the application respond appropriately. We think of it as “beyond interface”, it’s the 'intenterface'." He also speaks about voice commands being a natural progression in the future of this "VUI" (Vocabulary UI).
However, Unity was pretty rough when introduced, and Shuttleworth alludes to this in this post in referring to the last two versions of the OS. Also, Unity alienated a good chunk of Ubuntu users, and it's a little surprising to see another pretty major change so soon - a kind of "doubling down" by the Ubuntu team.