Refine Ubuntu apps indicator

Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth stated on his blog that Ubuntu 12.04 release cycle will focus on polishing. I believe App Indicators are a good point to start. I really appreciate Ubuntu Application Indicators and I think they are pretty original and well-designed if compared to other projects. In my opinion, however, some of them seem to be confusing and not properly organized. That’s why I started working on some mockup.

Ubuntu Message indicator

That’s my best App Indicators; I use it many times during the day and I appreciate the way it informs me on new events. Efficient and not intrusive. That’s how it looks now:

  • Why the IM status is at the top? What kind of status is it? Which applications it refers to? Why a status is displayed even if I’m not connected to any IM client? After some checks, I realised it is not a global IM status but simply my Empathy one.
  • The presence of the UbuntuOne Control Panel in this App Indicator is unclear to me. Does it notify something? Is there something I’m missing?

That’s how I redesigned it:

  • I locate the IM Status Indicator in a different position (within the Empathy section)
  • If you change your status, the “Chat” icon changes accordingly
  • The status menu is disabled when you are offline
  • I didn’t remove the UbuntuOne menu waiting for further explanations

Ubuntu Volume indicator

I wonder whether the Volume Control Indicator is the right place for music player notifications. Aren’t multimedia applications such as Totem, VLC and Audacity more suitable to this end? I believe volume applets should only manage sound. It may be valuable to design a new Multimedia Indicator, something like the Gnome-shell multimedia applet. Below you can see how it looks now:

  • Why is the “Mute” menu the first item? I believe it may be perceived as intrusive
  • I don’t like the Play/Prev/next button look and alignment

Below, my actions on that:

  • The “Mute” menu is now placed at the bottom (I think that most of the times a user doesn’t want to disable the sound but simply turn down the volume)
  • I redesigned the Banshee section, even if I’m still convinced this is not the proper location

Network indicator

I think this is the worst Ubuntu indicator. Let’s have a look at it:

  • It shows useless information (a “Disconnect” menu below the “Wired Network” section even if no wired network is available)
  • Sections are not well-organized (have a look at “Wireless Network” to have an idea)
  • It is not intuitive to understand which networks are used and how to properly disconnect from them

And here my solution:

In this version there are helpful messages, a better organization - separators are used when needed -, it is easy to see which networks you are connected to and how to disconnect from them.

User Switch indicator

As I have one user on my PC, I don’t have much to deal with it. Anyway there is still something unclear to me about this indicator:

  • Why the first item is a “Change User” menu? Considering that I can switch from a user to another by simply clicking on it, isn’t it a duplication?
  • What does this icon mean?

After some attempts, I’ve understood that it indicates when a user is logged in. Below the new, redesigned indicator:

I hope this is the first of several articles dealing with the Ubuntu features I don’t like and on how I will redesign it.
What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Refine Ubuntu apps indicator

  1. Ottime considerazioni, solo un appunto: chi usa linux al lavoro spesso ha bisogno di zittire il pc (ad esempio quando sul web finisci in uno di quegli orribili siti con musiche di sottofondo).
    Al tempo stesso ritengo però inutile un pulsante, basterebbe che nella barra di regolazione del volume fosse integrare un’area che disattivi i volumi

  2. The tick next to the user in the switcher means that they are logged in. This is useful if there are a number of users on a computer and you want to check that nobody else is logged in before shutting down the computer. Hope this helps!

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