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GNOME 3.16 release brings great new apps, notifications

The most noteworthy new updates to GNOME.

032715 gnome screenshot
Credit: GNOME

I'm finding it harder and harder to not use GNOME.

It seems with every release, even the "small" ones, GNOME keeps getting significantly more enjoyable to use. No matter what desktop environment I'm using at the time (and, boy howdy, do I jump around between darn near all of them), if a new release of GNOME appears, I simply can't help myself. I install it before the sun sets on that very day.

There's always one or two new goodies in every release that draw me back in. For the 3.14 release (last September), for example, it was the new multi-touch gestures. I just had to try them out.

And earlier this week, GNOME 3.16 was released with some very cool new goodies that I just couldn't wait to try out.

The most noteworthy of those goodies being the new notification system, which bears some similarity to what you'd see on, say, Android. The list of notifications comes down from the center of the top of the screen (where the date/time sit in GNOME) and is integrated in the same view as your upcoming calendar events and the world clock.

Is it a revolutionary new way of dealing with notifications? No. But it's simple, elegant, and easy on the eyes. And, like so much that the GNOME team is doing, it's equally at home on a desktop PC or on a touchscreen tablet.

The other new feature that grabbed my attention was a new application called "GNOME Books," a project that came into being as a Google Summer of Code project. It is, as you likely have guessed, an application for reading and organizing ebooks. Currently, it only supports reading comic books (such as .CBZ files) but support for other formats, such as ePub, is planned.

Just like the new notifications functionality in GNOME 3.16, GNOME Books is simple and elegant looking.

There are other new things, of course. Some updated artwork, a new calendar application, updates to the file browser and image viewer… all good updates that make this a solid release. But it's the notifications and new Books application that pulled me back in this time.

As an aside, GNOME 3.16 reminds me how well GNOME Shell works on a touchscreen. Testing it on my touchscreen laptops here, I am blown away by what an excellent experience it is. Some enterprising company should really put together a GNOME-powered tablet. I would buy one of those in a heartbeat.

You can get the 3.16 release right now from the GNOME.org download page, or packaged for openSUSE Tumbleweed, or as part of the next version of Fedora (22) to be released in May of this year. Ubuntu users will need to, as is so often the case, wait for an unofficial PPA to be created to test this new version out (the next version, Ubuntu 15.04, will not contain GNOME 3.16).

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