The developers of Gnome for mobile devices integrate a new 2D gesture control. However, some features are still missing before the user interface is finished.
In a post on the Gnome blog, developer Jonas Dreßer reports on the progress of the “Gnome Shell on mobile” project. The project was started during the development of Gnome 40 to adapt the Gnome desktop environment to mobile devices.
The project has now cleared a major hurdle with the integration of 2D gesture navigation. Users swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see an overview of running apps and the application grid (app grid). Users can cancel or reverse animations at any time. When an app is running in full-screen mode, users can swipe left or right at the bottom of the screen to cycle through the running applications.
The behavior of the on-screen keyboard was inspired by other mobile systems. For example, the active keystroke is replaced as soon as you hit another key. When the on-screen keyboard appears is now more understandable. There’s also a new gesture to slide away the on-screen keyboard and the emoji picker has been revamped.
Users move apps around the application grid or sort them into folders just like they do on the full-blown Gnome desktop. Next, the changes flow upstream into the Gnome project. The desktop version should also benefit from the revised gesture control. Developer Dreßer expects the merge to take up a large part of the Gnome 44 development cycle.
Long wish list
The developers now want to tackle emergency calls, haptic feedback when typing, unlocking with a PIN and a flashlight switch in the quick settings. Also an API that enables calls on the lockscreen, an adjusted terminal layout and the revision of the notification area and the overview. The appearance of the mobile Gnome offshoot is also to be improved, for example the panel should be transparent and the app previews in the overview should have rounded corners.
Difficult hardware situation
It is difficult for interested parties to try out the current version due to a lack of suitable hardware. The developers use a PinePhone Pro as a test device, but its components are not yet fully supported. The regular PinePhone is further there, but too weak for everyday use. The more powerful Librem 5 is not readily available and very expensive. The developers still want to publish experimental images in the future.
The mobile system PostmarketOS is also working on integrating the mobile Gnome Shell into its own repositories. Gnome Shell on mobile is funded by the Prototype Fund of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. With Phosh, which was developed for the Librem Linux smartphone, there is another user interface for mobile systems that is based on Gnome components.