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Smart Scopes ‘Not Mature Enough’ to Ship in Ubuntu 13.04

smartSmart Scopes will not ship as part of the Ubuntu 13.04 desktop as originally planned. 

The feature, which powers up Unity’s Dash with data from a wide variety of online sources, has been deemed ‘not mature enough’ to be included in Ubuntu 13.04 by default.

“[Smart Scopes] does not meet the quality requirements for Ubuntu. We would prefer to delay the feature until the next release cycle to ensure that it is rock solid,” explains Olli Ries, part of the Product Strategy team at Canonical.

But the feature isn’t being abandoned. On the contrary, Ries describes the feature as being of considerable ‘benefit’ to Ubuntu users by ‘improving the search experience in the Dash, which is Unity’s weak spot’.

“We would prefer to delay the feature until the next release cycle to ensure that it is rock solid,”

Instead, the smart dash features are to be held over for the Ubuntu 13.10 release. Work on it will continue shortly after the release of Ubuntu 13.04.

Ubuntu will also be making Smart Scopes available through a PPA for 13.04 users who want it.

Smarter Dash

Plans for to make the Dash smarter more comprehensive and more relevant were first announced back in late January. Reaction to news of the feature was, at the time, generally positive – especially as Ubuntu announced additional privacy features would also ship alongside it, mitigating concerns many had had with the ‘Amazon Shopping Lens’ in the previous release.

New of this postponement comes just weeks after being given a ‘Feature Freeze Exception’ by Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth to ensure that it could – should it be ready – land.

As well as not including the Smart Scopes, the previously-announced amped up privacy controls will also not be making it to Raring.

So what went wrong?

Timing, it seems. I’ve been tracking the Smart Scopes feature for the last few weeks and during that time it has matured at an exceptional rate, although is still far from being perfect.

With Ubuntu 13.04’s release date now less than a month away, and Ubuntu developers burned by shipping less-than-satisfactory code in previous releases, time and attitudes have been firmly stacked against it.

You can see a video Smart Scopes in action in the video below

Credit for Bring Cautious

I’m a massive fan of the Smart Scopes idea. The notion of putting so much data within reach of the desktop is inspired. But am I sad to hear that it won’t be arriving in Ubuntu 13.04 as planned? Not a jot.

Ubuntu deserve credit for being bold enough to plan features like this – features that are worth of the ‘disruptor’ title recently awarded to Mark Shuttleworth. They’re not universally popular, but they’re new, innovative, and, for many, incredibly useful.

So to renege on what was, to be frank, one of the key new features in the 13.04 desktop is pretty commendable. Admitting that the code isn’t up to par, being frank about its shortcomings, and wanting to ensure that the Ubuntu experience is as solid as possible are all mature, sensible approaches.