I was busy with other things when 3.2 was released, hence my only writing about it now. Having just started using the new release full time, I have to say that I’m really impressed with how it turned out. The rate of progress since the 3.0 has been extremely high.
3.2 was an important release, in my opinion. There’s a ton of minor fixes and incremental improvements in there, as well as some bigger changes, such as the new login dialogs. Together, these changes make 3.2 feel like a really big improvement. It’s smoother, more robust, more attractive, and better integrated. 3.2 has set a very nice pace of improvement to the GNOME 3 core user experience.
One area that has seen big improvements in 3.2 is GNOME 3’s messaging integration. From this release, messaging facilities are provided by GNOME 3 itself, rather than a specific application. This means that you don’t need to launch a chat application in order to receive instant messages, for example. This is really advantageous, considering how messaging is increasingly central to the user experience.
3.2 also introduces the first results of several exciting new initiatives that will become increasingly important in the future. The release marks the first step in the development of new GNOME 3 applications. 3.0 was largely about the core GNOME 3 user experience, including GNOME Shell and the new control center, but GNOME needs new applications too. The two new applications that are included in 3.2 – Documents and Contacts – are the first step in that process. These new applications will be further developed in the future, and there are already designs for other new GNOME 3 applications, such as Music and Photos.
Finally, 3.2 brings a new focus on online integration to GNOME 3. This is a really major development. 3.2 includes a new facility called GNOME Online Accounts, which allows a user’s online accounts to be accessed by different GNOME applications. GNOME Online Accounts will play a major part in all the new GNOME 3 applications, as you can see with Documents and Contacts, both of which will access data stored in the cloud (they handle local data equally well, I might add). Web applications are another important innovation in 3.2 that will make using the web an even more seamless part of GNOME 3.
In all, then, 3.2 is a major release that takes the GNOME 3 user experience forward important ways. I think 3.2 shows how well the GNOME project is doing in pursuing its ambition to create a competitive, cutting edge user experience. The new features found in the release are also the result of many collaborations across our community, which is always good to see.
I’m already looking forward to 3.4.