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Ubuntu’s New Sync Menu In Action

sync-menu mock-up by Matthew Paul ThomasA new ‘Sync Menu’ is one of several new features available to those testing Ubuntu 12.10 Beta.

Designed to be a one-stop drop-down menu for both mounting the status of, and controlling, downloads, the Sync Menu has the potential to make life that little bit easier.

Ubuntu One is supported by default, though Dropbox and podcast downloaders are also mentioned in the design spec for the indicator.

One thing the menu isn’t designed to do is monitor all downloads; it’s not a ‘download menu’. Torrent apps, browser downloads and the like lay outside the scope of the utility.

So what’s it like?

Fresh from the sky

The necessary Sync Menu packages have been included in development builds of Ubuntu 12.10 for some time but have only recently started ‘working’.

With Ubuntu One open (and signed in, naturally) the menu is easy to find: just look for the ‘cloud’ icon in the notification area.

As menus go it fairly standard stuff. There’s nothing particularly new or special on show at first glance, bar the use of a ‘switch’ embedded in the menu (fondly remembered from the days of the ‘alternative indicator-network’ menu).

It is when Ubuntu One is active that things are more interesting.

With an operating in progress the ‘Current and Recent Transfers‘ sub-menu will become accessible. Here we can see a new style of widget for menus – progress bars.

I find that the left-margin is too wide, sync names are overly lengthy, and the way the sub-menu “overlaps” the main menu is at odds with the rest of the notification area’s behaviour.

Wait – Didn’t this Already Exist?

The Sync Menu isn’t the first time that Ubuntu One has had its own indicator.

A third-party applet - Ubuntu One Indicator - has been knocking around since Ubuntu 10.10. It was most recently updated In April this year, adding support for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Syncing An Arrival

But with so many last-minute changes to Ubuntu 12.10′s features and interface – not all of them Amazon-shaped – it’s likely that this new Sync Menu won’t come installed by default in Quantal.

If that’s the case the menu will most likely be available to install from the Ubuntu Software Center manually.

But whether it does land by default or requires me to click an ‘install’ button it will finally be nice to use Ubuntu One with a better degree of design integration with Ubuntu than it’s had until now.