The GNOME 40 is released! This is what's new

Another six months passed, and It's time again for a new major stable release of GNOME, the most popular Linux desktop interface, and this time it's GNOME 40.

Gnome 40 It is the version that follows Gnome 3.38 that was released last September, and it is the first version to use the new versioning scheme adopted by this desktop developer team after more than 10 years of  3.x releases. The next major release will be Gnome 41 then 42, 43...etc, and the next minor releases that focus on bug fixes and interface performance improvements will be 40.1, 40.2, 40.3...etc.

This release saw a massive redesign of the activity overview; the Gnome dash has been shifted from its usual place on the left to the bottom, and now it appears horizontally just like the macOS dock. It contains the icons of favourite or pinned applications from the left to the right, followed by a small separator that separates the currently running applications from the favourites, then in on the far right there is the usual nine-dot button that, when clicked, takes you into the installed apps list.

Above this dock there are workspaces lined up next to each other horizontally as well, showing the currently running applications which can be distinguished more easily now thanks to the presence of an icon next to each running application, by default, only two workspaces appear when you click the Activities button, and new workspaces are added or removed automatically afterward as needed, Then the search bar above these workspaces, and at the top of the screen is the usual top panel, where its three areas (the system status area, the notifications and messages tray, and the activities button) have seen a wonderful change when they appear as a button with rounded corners when you hover the mouse over them.

 When entering the app list, these workspaces are minimized and sent to the top of this list with beautiful animations, and the user can then drag and drop the open apps or any other installed app from the list into any workspace they want or in an empty workspace to create a new one automatically.

Users can control and switch between different interface elements using either the new gesture system, the keyboard shortcuts, or using the mouse:

In the touchpad, a three-finger swipe left or right allows moving between workspaces, while a three-finger swipe upward allows entry into “overview” mode, and if you keep pushing, it expands to the installed app list, while a three-finger swipe down will take you back to the selected workspace.

If you don't have a touchpad or prefer to use a keyboard, press the buttons "Super + Alt + Up Arrow" from the keyboard once to enter the overview, and again to open the app grid,  press the buttons "Super + Alt + Down Arrow" once to exit from the installed applications list, and again to exit the overview, or   "Super + Alt +  the left or right arrows" to move between workspaces. Mouse scroll switches workspaces in the overview, and it can be used with the "Super" key in the regular desktop view.

Enough talk about the interface now and let's move to the basic applications. The Weather application has been completely redesigned, and it now shows more information and looks better than ever!. The new design features two main views: one for the hourly forecast for the next 48 hours, and one for the daily forecast, for the next 10 days, and it is also more mobile-friendly as it supports resizing to narrower sizes.

The web application (Epiphany) has now got a new icon and a new tabs design that allows for quick scrolling of tabs and resolves many of the deficiencies with the previous design, and can now also be configured to display Google search suggestions (disabled by default) if desired.

The software app has a new icon as well, and had many improvements for GNOME 40. The large application banners have a new and improved look and now cycle automatically, the New version history dialogues display the recent changes for each application, and the updates' logic has been updated to reduce the frequency of reminders.

The Nautilus files manager app has benefitted from a large collection of changes for GNOME 40, including a new preferences' dialogue that looks better and clear, time estimates for ongoing file operations are more accurate, executable text files can be run directly from Files with the "Run as a Program" context menu item, and  Files’ built-in archive extraction feature now supports extracting password-protected archives.

Files can also now be sorted by creation date, The location entry offers Tab completions when typing a path, and a handy preview is now shown when setting the wallpaper from the Files app, and when you try to copy or move a file to a location where a file of the same name exists, you will get an option to rename the file being moved or copied.

The Keyboard settings have received several improvements for this release as well;  the input source settings have been moved from the Region & Language to Keyboard, and additional settings have also been added so that it is now possible to configure the Compose and Alternate Characters keys, and finally, the keyboard shortcut settings are now arranged in separate groups to aid navigation and have an improved search design.

The Settings' app has some other improvements, too; The Wi-Fi settings now pin known networks to the top of the list and have an overall better layout. Additionally, the About page now shows the hardware model for your laptop, if it’s available.

GNOME 40 includes many other small improvements that include Maps who got a new information pop-up for locations, showing information from Wikipedia, as well as native location names. It is also more adaptive, making it possible to use it in a range of sizes; and the Document Viewer sidebar displays paired thumbnails when the main view is in side-by-side mode. GNOME's visual style has become smoother and refined, sharp edges are rounded, strong borders are smoothed, the sidebar design is standardized and softened, and the scroll bars are now slightly larger when used as a control, and Many GNOME apps contain visual updates to GNOME 40, with new-style window corners and menus and display switchers, including files, web, disks, fonts, calendar, images, and system monitoring.

Gnome 40 will be available on most rolling repositories in the coming days or weeks, as well as on the Fedora 34 distribution expected for release next month, while Ubuntu and other distributions will have to wait a bit for this update or a higher version of GNOME when it comes out.

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