Mark Shuttleworth has announced HUD, or Head-Up Display, an alternative to application menus especially designed for Unity, which should solve many issues with existing menus "by connecting users directly to what they want":
Say hello to the Head-Up Display, or HUD, which will ultimately replace menus in Unity applications. [...] The HUD concept has been the driver for all the work we’ve done in unifying menu systems across Gtk, Qt and other toolkit apps in the past two years. So far, that’s shown up as the global menu. In 12.04, it also gives us the first cut of the HUD.
- Mark Shuttleworth
HUD works everywhere the appmenu (global menu) works and lets you search through the application and system menus. It uses a smart search so it can learn what you do to prioritize various items. Further more, HUD lets you interact with both the focused window as well as the whole application (for instance, you can perform various actions for an IM chat window but also set the status, through the same menu).
Mark is even speaking about integrating voice recognition into HUD, but that will take a while to implement:
Searching is fast and familiar, especially once we integrate voice recognition, gesture and touch. 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. But even without voice input, the HUD is faster than mousing through a menu, and easier to use than hotkeys since you just have to know what you want, not remember a specific key combination
In a comment to his blog post, Mark also said that HUD "may be default, but optional", so it will not replace the regular menus, at least not for now. Also, I'm not sure how this will work in the future, but for the moment, regular menus aren't removed and they are still displayed on the top panel, so HUD is only an alternate way of using the menus.
Here's a video introduction to HUD, recorded by the Ubuntu developers:
More about HUD @ http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/939
Install HUD in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin
According to Mark's blog post, it's not yet known if HUD will be available by default in Ubuntu 12.04, but it's already available to test via PPA (for Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin only):
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:unity-team/staging sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade
Then log out and log back in. To invoke the HUD, tap ALT.
Please note that HUD is currently available as a prototype, for testing only and has some missing features. Installing it will replace your current Unity version!
To remove Unity with HUD and go back to the original Unity from the Ubuntu repositories, use the commands below:
sudo apt-get install ppa-purge sudo ppa-purge ppa:unity-team/staging
What do you think?