Unity Next seeks to create a “converged Unity implementation” across desktop, TV, tablet, and phone by focusing on two main development features:
- Integration on top of the Mir display server
- Qt-based UI
The Unity implementations as we know it are currently split between the Nux-based shell on the desktop and a Qt/QML implementation for all other form factors. After positive results from the use of Qt and QML on Ubuntu Touch and advances in OpenGL features in Qt5, it is no longer necessary to maintain Unity shells powered by different toolkits across the multiple form factors.
The developers have three primary goals in mind:
- Scaling and adaptability across multiple form factors
- Consistent user experience
With these in mind, resource usage, UI responsiveness, and a unified codebase are among the technical requirements that need to be addressed. Resource constraints will be especially important for low-end devices, but equally important for laptop and high-end enterprise tablet users needing an efficient desktop with a fluid UI experience.
What’s on the way?
The unified codebase will also see the inclusion of several Ubuntu Touch features into the core Unity Next project. Fullscreen preferences will make it possible for applications to tell Unity whether to make the menubar stay visible or autohide whilst running in fullscreen mode. Stage hints will also offer applications a way to change capabilities when running in different “stages” in the Unity shell.
But aside from the integration of Ubuntu Touch components, the Unity shell as we know it will still function as it always has, with scopes and indicators still forming the core of extensibility.
The Unity Next project is aiming for the first stages of integration with Mir in May of this year. Integrating “convergence items” is scheduled for July and a integrated Mir/Unity Next codebase is targeted for phone devices by October. Finally, Unity Next will be amongst the other projects that form the total convergence vision for 14.04.
More information on the Unity Next project is on the Ubuntu Wiki.