Users can look forward to greater control over installed applications in the upcoming release of GNOME 3.32.

A new ‘Applications‘ panel has been created by developers that offers users more control over the majority of locally installed applications, including Flatpak and repo apps, and on a per-app basis.

Naturally a much wider range of settings are surfaced for installed Flatpak apps. Given that the fledgling format has more fine-tuned permissions model, this isn’t a surprise.

Switches to control access to your local files, system integration, notifications are present, along with a link to control permissions via the Privacy section. There’s also ‘Usage’ section that shows you how much space a given app is taking up.

applications settings panel in gnome control center

As designer Alan Day explains the need for such a screen in a bug report:

The adoption of Flatpak means that we have additional application permission settings that we need to expose. This includes things like microphone and camera access, as well as access to specific USB devices. The list could grow in the future, to include things like access to contacts and calendar data.

Snap apps also support a more granular permissions model, albeit currently surfaced via the Ubuntu Software app rather than the control center. As of writing there appears to be no integration for Snap app permissions in the new SettingsApplications panel — let’s hope that changes in the near future.

Other rejigged settings panels

Aside from the new Applications section GNOME developers have also been busy on efforts to improve the look and layout of other key settings panels.

Work to revamp the Sound panel has come up trumps in particular. The audio section now uses a vertical layout and ranks available options in a more logical order. User testing shows an appreciable uptick in overall usability, too.

sound settings panel in gnome control center

The Display panel has also been given a once over, with widgets made smaller so that they are more consistent with other panels.

Finally, work to make GNOME Settings responsive — mobile friendly — yields impressive results, as this gif from developer Georges Stavracas demonstrates:

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GNOME 3.32 is due for release in March. The April Ubuntu 19.04 release will feature the majority of the update.

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