GNOME Shell for mobile

GNOME Shell for mobile

El GNOME desktop environment it has evolved over the past decade to become GNOME 40. GNOME 40 was a major release that changed user interface design with a modern approach. You can tell by the way GNOME 40 is designed that its shell and underlying technology are ready for smaller screens. It somehow feels like a mobile operating system like Android rather than a desktop environment due to its gesture-controlled workspaces, icon grid, and dock.

In a small form factor device, the system tray, calendar, notifications, and native apps work well and efficiently. GTK4 and libadwaita help ensure that apps and controls on a mobile platform are responsive and visually appealing. After GNOME Shell version 40, GNOME developers worked on various design concepts for small devices, including tablets and mobile phones.

While big tech companies have donated to GNOME, the Prototyping Fund has helped the team sustain this work. A prototype fund has been created to allow them to continue this effort. The Prototype Fund is a grant program that provides funds from the German Ministry of Education (BMBF) to support software of public interest. Crafting a mobile interface is an extremely ambitious undertaking.

Requires a well-crafted vision to support thousands of different mobile hardware and good user support. Not to mention, the privacy and security of users on a mobile device.

Therefore, with this background, the team concentrates on one proof of concept which accommodates some essential user interactions in the GNOME Shell:

  • Rocket launcher
  • Application Grids
  • Swipe, gestures and navigations
  • Search with the mobile keyboard
  • Detect screen size and screen rotation support
  • Workspaces and multitasking
  • Settings
  • On-screen keyboard

It is always important to remember that a mobile experience is much more than the user interface. Also, GNOME itself is not an operating system. It consists of the underlying stable operating system, which provides much-needed privacy and security. Also, the "App Store" likes the concept. Phone manufacturers should work with GNOME developers to get their products to adopt this concept.


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