From visual overhauls to performance enhancements, it is one of the biggest updates that GNOME has received since GNOME 3. Let’s take a look at a few of the best features and changes that this release brings to the table.
1. New Workspace View and Dock
Unlike the previous versions of GNOME, the latest GNOME 40 release embraces a horizontal workspace view and workspace switching with the dock anchored to the bottom in a horizontal position.
This new change is more user intuitive as GNOME smartly creates or removes workspaces automatically as per the number of applications open. Additionally, you can also drag and drop your applications across the workspaces and GNOME will smartly rearrange them in a cognizant fashion.
The dock also underwent some minor changes compared to its former version, now allowing the users to have separators to separate user favorite applications and running, but non-favorite applications.
2. A Beautiful Visual Overhaul
GNOME 40 looks delightful right out of the box. Rounded corners have been added to multiple components of the desktop like workspace switcher, dock, top bar, and the application windows. The user interface looks modern and cleaner vied to its previous iterations.
Adding to its beauty, GNOME 40 comes with a lot of new transitions and animation which bring out the best in the new innovations. It is a pleasant blend of both performance and aesthetics. The app window now includes icons for easier identification of the applications in the workspace view.
3. Fresh Workspace Gestures
With the introduction of horizontal workspace layout, GNOME 40 takes it a step further with the fresh workspace gestures for your touchpad, mouse, and keyboard. Thanks to the buttery smooth animation and the set of prudent gestures, navigating through multiple workspaces and apps just became so much easier.
The most notable ones are the three-finger swipes towards the left and right to switch between the open workspaces. This is accompanied by a three-finger swipe up to display the Overview and app launcher, which can just as easily be closed again with a three-finger swipe towards the bottom.
With the combination of Super + Alt + ↑ or ↓ for bringing up or closing the Overview and Super + Alt + ← or → for workspace switching, you’ll still be able to use all of the wondrous gestures. On the mouse, you can use the scroll wheel instead of the arrow keys for the same effect.
4. App Updates and Redesigns
While bringing a plethora of new and exciting features with the latest release, GNOME doesn’t shy away from updating its built-in applications too. Multiple applications like the Files app, Weather app, Maps app, and the Web app received cosmetic changes and functionality enhancements to provide a better user experience.
The Files app has received noticeable changes such as a better and cleaner preference dialog, and improved time estimates for file operations. You can also sort files by creation date, preview wallpaper, and extract password-protected archives using the built-in archive extraction feature.
The Weather app has been completely redesigned to provide more information in a simplistic yet modern user interface. It comes with two main views embedded: one for an hourly forecast for the next 48 hours and one for a daily forecast for the next 10 days. Additionally, it has been crafted to be more mobile-friendly as it supports resizing to narrower sizes.
Similar to the Weather app, the Maps app also received some major redesign to its place bubbles and information popups. The place’s name will also be shown in the user’s language if present in the OpenStreetMap data. The application has become more adaptable to mobile and narrower devices in the latest update as well.
Epiphany or the Web application now comes with a more polished tabs design and new features like unread notification indicators and pinned tabs. Several deficiencies from the previous design have been resolved in the latest release. Search suggestions can be configured to display results directly from Google too.
5. The Addition of a Compose Key
The Compose key is an excellent example of small features that could have a big impact on the user experience. Although disabled by default, it can now be enabled from Settings > Keyboard. All you need to do is to set up a key binding to trigger the Compose key. The user interface has also been enhanced and compose sequences are shown in realtime as they are being entered.
This is an extremely useful feature if you want to type special characters such as ©, ™, ½ or °C in a more intuitive manner without copy-pasting them each time you need to use them.
The Wi-Fi interface in the Settings app has been re-engineered to pin the most relevant Wi-Fi networks to the top of the list and a better layout in general. Browsing and searching for keyboard shortcuts in the Settings app.
The input source settings have been moved from the Region & Language to Keyboard. This makes them easier to find, and groups all the keyboard settings in one place.
It’s Time to Upgrade to GNOME 40
The latest iteration of software comes with a bunch of changes that present the featured app banners in a modern layout and cycle through them automatically. Information regarding the source of installed applications is also shown now. Moreover, the update logic has been further optimized to achieve a reduced number of notifications.
Evidently, GNOME 40 is a refreshing experience for all the GNOME enthusiasts out there. Although it is not widely available on many distributions following launch, GNOME 40 is expected to arrive on the major distributions that offer the GNOME desktop soon.
If you’re excited already, you can try out Fedora 34 Beta, GNOME OS Nightly, or openSUSE which already have GNOME 40. Head to gnome.org to learn more.
You can download and use the Fedora beta right now, along with the shiny new GNOME 40 update.
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