Whats New for Users
Based on user feedback, lots of small changes have been made to give a smoother experience in GNOME 3.2. Some noteworthy highlights:
It is now easier to resize a window as the area for this has been increased.
System Settings now includes links to related settings found in other locations. For instance, the Keyboard section now has a link to the keyboard layout.
Titlebars, buttons, and other controls are less tall, making it easier to use GNOME on small screens.
Notifications in the lower-right corner now include a counter. This makes it easier to see how many emails are waiting for you without having to open your email program, or to determine how many messages you have missed in a particular chat.
The highlight effect that indicates that an application is already running has been made more obvious.
In the user menu, notifications can be configured independently from the chat status.
The workspace switcher in the overview remains expanded by keeping its full width displayed when you are using more than one workspace.
Instead of assuming Evolution, the application for the calendar drop-down can now be customized.
The battery power status is now shown using a bar.
Focus-follows-mouse handling has improved, though more work is needed.
Documents, contacts, calendars — They can be stored locally on the computer, but storing this type of information online is becoming increasingly popular. In GNOME 3.2, Online Accounts provides one place to manage these online sources. These online accounts are automatically used by Documents, Contacts, Empathy, Evolution as well as the calendar drop-down.
Certain web sites are used as if they are applications. Some sites are opened the minute the computer is turned on; the site is open all the time and checked periodically. Wouldn’t it be nice if GNOME treats these sites as actual applications?
GNOME 3.2 makes it possible to use a site as an application thanks to Epiphany, our standard web browser. To do so, press Ctrl-Shift-A, or access the File menu and select Save as Web Application. Once the web application has been created, it can be launched from the overview.
The following is a brief list of the benefits:
Web applications can easily be launched from the overview mode. They can also be pinned as favorites.
The entire window is used for the site.
The application is restricted to the saved site. Attempts to go somewhere else, say by clicking a link, are shown in a normal browser window.
The icon used when switching windows or to start the web application shows the site’s logo or a clipped screenshot of the site.
The web application is distinct from the normal browser. Should the main browser crash, the web application will not be affected.
Manage your Contacts
Contacts is a new application focused on people. The goal is to provide one overview of people, whether the contacts are stored online, within Evolution or the chat application Empathy.
Manage your Documents and Files
When dealing with a lot of documents, it can be hard to keep track of them. In GNOME 3.2, steps have been taken to make this easier.
Helpful File Open and Save dialogs
Opening and saving files has been made easier. When opening a file in an application, GNOME will helpfully show a list of recent files. Similarly, a list of recent directories will be shown when a file is saved.
In GNOME 3.2, the Documents application is focused on providing a simple and effective way to find, organize and view documents.
Thanks to the Online Accounts integration, finding documents is the same whether they’re stored locally or online.
Quickly Preview your Files in the File Manager
File Manager can now quickly preview movie, music, picture and other files. The preview can be shown and hidden again by pressing space.
Due to differences in the way colors are shown, the same picture can look different between monitors. Similarly, when the picture is printed its colors might have changed again.
GNOME 3.2 allows you to calibrate devices to ensure the shown colors are representative.
Messaging Built In
You no longer have to open a separate application to sign in to chat and messaging services. In 3.2, GNOME will do it for you.
Change available or unavailable status quickly using the user menu at the top-right hand corner of the screen.
Easily approve or reject new buddy requests, audio/video calls, and file transfers.
Get notified in case there is a connection problem with a chat or messaging service.
Wacom graphics tablets
Wacom graphics tablets can be configured in System Settings.
The GNOME 3 login screen has been integrated with the rest of the user experience.
On tablets and similar touchscreen devices, rotating the device will automatically rotate the screen. Additionally, touchscreen devices will not show a mouse cursor unless a mouse is attached.
GNOME 3 now features integrated media hotplugging notifications.
The search box in the overview mode now lets you search through your contacts.
Documentation That Really Helps You
Traditional user documentation is written like a paper book; a good story, but it is very long and takes time to read through. It’s not ideal if you just want to quickly find out how to perform a certain task. To address this, the following applications now include topic-orientated documentation:
The accessibility explorer Accerciser
The Integrated Development Environment Anjuta
The CD and DVD burning application Brasero
The webcam application Cheese
The image viewer Eye of GNOME
The mail and calendar application Evolution
The remote desktop viewer Vinagre
There have also been large improvements and enhancements to the Desktop Help.
Even more beautiful
3.2 has received lots of visual polish, making it even more beautiful than before. This would not have been possible without the work done on the CSS support in GTK+, see Section 4.2 ― GTK+ 3.2 from the developer section for the changes.
The visual polish includes:
Dark theme: media applications can now opt to use a dark theme variant. This is used by Movie Player and Image Viewer.
Window corners are now smoothly anti-aliased.
Chat notifications are more visually pleasing.
Various dialogs such as the network dialogs now match the style used by GNOME shell.
Various visual improvements for people with an eye for detail, such as drop shadows on button labels, new inline toolbar and raised button styles, and refined pressed button states. Additionally, focus rectangles will only be shown when using the keyboard to interact with an application.
But Wait, There’s More…
As well as big changes, there are also various small additions and tweaks that happen in every GNOME release.
Ability to access and modify documents shared via the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP).
Movie Player has a new plugin to allow videos to be rotated in case they’re in the wrong orientation, such as those recorded on a photo camera or a smart phone.
Encryption and certification improvements:
Improved access of applications to certificates and keys and more consistent behavior when dealing with certificate authorities, keys, and smart cards by using PKCS#11. (Further improvements in this area are planned for version 3.4.)
A new viewer for certificate and key files so you can quickly inspect such files by double-clicking them in the File Manager.
Empathy’s log viewer for previous conversations has a cleaner design. Empathy also supports sending SMS messages, and SIP accounts can be marked as being able to make PSTN calls. Such accounts can be used to call landline and mobile phones.
NetworkManager version 0.9 provides fast user switching, improved WiFi roaming, WiMAX support, flexible permissions and centralized storage of network connection information.
Evolution can now show the pictures of contacts stored in Google address books. Furthermore, to make clear that a port number of a mail server can be set, a separate field has been added.
The text editor Gedit offers new snippets for Mallard and Markdown files, and refreshed Quickopen and Search dialogs.
Various performance improvements. Most noticeable improvement is with fullscreen 3D games.
Ability to set regional settings in Region panel of System Settings.
A redesigned font chooser dialog.
What’s New in Accessibility
GNOME 3.2 is the most beautiful accessible desktop to date, with an emphasis on being reliable and usable for everyone.
Until GNOME 3.2, assistive technology users have faced an unfortunate dilemma: It was not possible to dynamically activate accessibility support. Thanks to improvements to AT-SPI2, applications now have a cross-desktop way to determine if accessibility support is enabled and a way to enable it. GNOME is first to implement this, so more work needs to be done to really work across desktops.
For those users who require an on-screen keyboard, a brand new one has been built in.
Using the overview mode with a keyboard works better than ever. In addition to being fully keyboard navigable, users of the screen reader Orca will experience much more reliable and accurate presentation while navigating.
Orca’s migration to introspection has made GNOME’s screen reader noticeably snappier. And now that the ATK bridge only listens for signals when assistive technologies are being used, enabling accessibility support in GNOME should no longer result in a significant performance degradation.
The accessibility service interface AT-SPI2 has been greatly stabilized: Crashes, memory leaks, and a variety of other bugs have been fixed.
GNOME’s Accessibility Implementation Library Gail has been completely merged into GTK+, bringing GNOME yet another step closer to accessibility that’s built in, not bolted on.
The full set of release notes can be found on the gnome website
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