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Ubuntu 12.10 will bypass menus via predictive search
Jan. 26, 2012

Canonical unveiled a search-oriented Head-Up Display (HUD) interface that will debut in Ubuntu 12.04. Aiming to reduce dependence on menus and eventually replace them with the help of gesture and voice interactions, HUD could find its way into future versions of Ubuntu designed for smartphones and TVs.

When Ubuntu 12.04 ships in April, the Linux distro will debut a new alternative Head-Up Display (HUD) interface that can bypass menus via intuitive, predictive search, according to a blog announcement from Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth.

Ubuntu 12.04 ("Precise Pangolin") will offer the first formal introduction to HUD, presumably in beta form, as an alternative to the mainstream Unity menu system. Right now, HUD is available as a very early prototype version.

Initially, HUD will act primarily as a smart look-ahead search function that operates through the app and system (indicator) menus, according to Shuttleworth. Dubbed the "intenterface" because it is designed to guess what a user intends to do, HUD is said to offer a vocabulary UI (VUI) with fuzzy matching, and is capable of learning what a user does most frequently, enabling it to prioritize tasks.

While the immediate impact of HUD is to keep users' hands on the keyboards rather than being interrupted by mousing around menus, over time the project will begin to integrate touch, gesture, and voice recognition, writes Shuttleworth.

The voice integration, which has led some to compare HUD with the iPhone's new Siri speech interface, could eventually give it a greater role in future Ubuntu versions designed for smartphones and other mobile devices, as well as Canonical's IPTV platform Ubuntu TV, announced earlier this month.

The full story on HUD may be found in this LinuxDevices report.

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