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rhythmbox previews unity dash

A cool new feature has landed in the Unity Staging PPA, for Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal: previews in Dash.

With the new "previews" feature, you'll be able to right click applications or files in Dash to get a preview, along with some extra information which depends on the item you've right clicked.

For instance, right clicking an application displays a screenshot as well as user ratings, its description and so on. If the application is not installed, there's also a button to install it directly from Dash, without using Ubuntu Software Center or, if it's installed, you can launch or uninstall it:

ubuntu quantal: unity lens dash previews

If you right click a music file or album from the music lens, you get a large album cover image as well as the available tracks and options to play it or show the files in folder:

ubuntu quantal: unity lens dash previews

In my test, using the latest Unity from the Unity Staging PPA, the music starts playing in Rhythmbox and not in Dash, but hopefully users will be able to play the music directly in Dash, or at least preview it.

Video: Unity with the new "previews" Dash feature

Here's a video I've recorded using the latest Unity from trunk with the new "previews" feature:

(direct video link)

Important: "previews" hasn't landed in Ubuntu 12.10 yet and is currently under heavy development, so in the video you'll notice many bugs and as well as things that will change until the final Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal is released. In the video you'll also notice that the Unity launcher icons use a background for running applications only - I'm not sure if this is a bug or an intentional change.

Currently, the previews work for:
  • applications (both installed and suggested)
  • music (installed and available for download via Ubuntu One Music Store)
  • videos

The previews don't work for regular files or folders, but hopefully this will change soon. And not just for the default lenses, I'm sure we'll see some great new Unity lenses created for Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal that will make use of this cool new feature, so you'll be able to read the latest news for instance, from Dash, without having to open a browser.

Install Unity with Previews

The new "previews" feature hasn't landed in Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal yet, but it will probably be available very soon. Until then, if you want to test it, you can use the Unity Staging PPA in a virtual machine for instance (do not use it on a production machine, the builds in this PPA are highly unstable!).

The Unity Staging PPA contains the latest Unity builds generated from trunk, that have passed the unit tests, but didn't pass the user acceptance (autopilot) tests yet. Only use it for testing only!