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The Unity Smart Scopes (also known as "100 scopes") feature has landed in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander today. This feature tries to provide a smarter Dash search experience by returning results relevant to the search query.

Ubuntu 13.10 Unity Smart Scopes

The project is also known as "100 Scopes" and it was initially supposed to land in Ubuntu 13.04 but it wasn't completely ready so it was postponed for 13.10. There aren't 100 scopes yet, but there are already quite a few useful scopes, such as:
  • Amazon
  • Audacious
  • Banshee
  • Calculator
  • Chromium bookmarks
  • Clementine
  • Colour Lovers
  • Commands
  • DevHelp
  • DeviantArt
  • Dictionary
  • DuckDuckGo Related
  • Facebook
  • Firefox bookmarks
  • Flickr
  • Gallica
  • GitHub
  • gMusicBrowser
  • Google Drive
  • Google News
  • Gourmet
  • Guayadeque
  • Manpages
  • Ubuntu One Music Store
  • Ubuntu One Music Search
  • Musique
  • OpenClipArt
  • OpenWeatherMap
  • Picasa
  • Remote Videos
  • Rhythmbox
  • Shotwell
  • Skimlinks
  • SoundCloud
  • TexDoc
  • Tomboy
  • VirtualBox
  • Yahoo Finance
  • Yelp
  • Zotero
  • Wikipedia

"The Dash now gets and contributes information from a central server on which scopes are best able to answer Dash queries, in order to make the Dash home scope maximally useful through community-contributed scopes and usage data. As before, the Dash can be restricted from including any online content or contribution in the Privacy system settings."

Here's how the Unity Smart Scopes feature works: when searching for something on the home lens, Dash tries to guess which search categories should be selected by using the information it has about it in its central server. For instance, if you search for "Pantera", Dash selects "Music", "References" and some other categories. The categories selected automatically by Dash can be changed so you can manually select or unselect some categories:

Ubuntu 13.10 Unity Smart Scopes

Each category has multiple sources (scopes) and for example, selecting the "Reference" category will select the "Wikipedia", "Dictionary" and "Zotero" sources. Just like the categories, the sources can also be selected / deselected manually.

Furthermore, most of the scopes come with Dash Previews, allowing you to take a quick look at a Wikipedia article for instance, see the detailed weather forecast for a city and so on:

Ubuntu 13.10 Unity Smart Scopes

Ubuntu 13.10 Unity Smart Scopes

The Dash Previews for the new scopes still need some polish - as you can see above, the Wikipedia icon doesn't look too good in the preview -, but they work pretty great already.

The scopes can be individually enabled or disabled from the Applications Lens, by selecting "Search plugins" and then opening the preview for the plugin/scope you want to enable or disable:

Ubuntu 13.10 Unity Smart Scopes

Ubuntu 13.10 Unity Smart Scopes

Video: Unity Smart Scopes in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

Below you can watch a quick Unity Smart Scopes demo video which I've recorded in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander today:

(direct video link)

Besides this feature, there have been many changes in the Unity package uploaded today in the Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander repositories, like support for payment previews that will allow users to buy music from within the Dash and many fixes, including a fix for the bug we wrote about a while back that caused the panel shadow to show up on top of full-screen windows. You can see the complete changelog for today's Unity update in Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander, HERE.

Also, in my test today, left clicking an application in Dash opens its Dash Preview instead of launching it, but I'm guessing this is a bug.

To get the Unity Smart Scopes feature you need to either use Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander, currently under development (I don't recommend installing it yet, it's pre-alpha) or use the Unity Smart Scopes PPA in Ubuntu 13.04.