Convincing Lunduke: Scopes

Okay, so I think I’ve finally wrapped my head around how Scopes works.

… But I’m not convinced that I fully grok why Scopes works that way.

It’s clear that Scopes is supposed to be very different – and better – than what’s available. But I haven’t yet found a piece of functionality that doesn’t exist – in more flexible form – on, say, Android.

But, more importantly, I’m not seeing the actual – in practice – benefit.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to read some comic strips. You happen to already have the RSS feeds of your favorites set in either an Ubuntu Scope, or a good newsreader app on Android. Here’s how each works in a practical way:

  • On Ubuntu Touch as a Scope : You swipe to the side N number of times until the scope is found. This might be just one swipe. But, if you have only 10 scopes configured, you’re swiping roughly 5 times on average.

  • On Android via an App : You tap the app to launch it. If you have app category folders… two taps total.

So… for efficiency’s sake you get to your information faster (or, at least, expending less physical energy) using a more “traditional” apps-launched-from-the-desktop approach.

Or is there a trick I don’t know of to browsing through scopes in a faster way?

One way: pull up the bottom edge and pick the scope by name, as per the video.

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And again, this is where the aggregation stuff comes into play. You want a comics app which shows you both the latest Spiderman full-page comic and the latest Doonesbury strip? You can’t have it; they’re not in the same app. But with scopes, a “Comics” scope can pull in stuff from any other scope, because that’s exactly what scopes are designed for. Apps could be, but aren’t – I suppose there’s nothing technically stopping you creating an Android “comics” app which pulls in Intents from other apps, but nobody has and Android really isn’t built to work that way and so you’d find making such a thing very difficult.

As @sil says, you can pick the scope directly, and then bear in mind that if you read comics from 10 different places, that might be 10 different apps to shuffle between. With scopes, you see it all in one place, available directly from the home screen of the phone.

Hmm. Maybe I’m just not used to this yet. Feels… clumsy. And doesn’t seem to work well with large numbers of scopes.

How is this faster than launching an app, exactly? It seems to me that it’s simultaneously slower and more finicky. Going to try living with it for a while longer… I really want to give this a full fair shake. I really like the idea of having a Debian based distro on my tablet (like in the Maemo days)… but, so far, I kinda just want Unity and Scopes to die a burny death.

Let me ask you guys this: Do you find that Scopes grows on you over time? When you first started using it did you find it pointless and annoying… but, as time went on, perhaps you grew to like it?

What horrible RSS reading apps do you guys use that you need different apps for every RSS/ATOM feed? :smile:

This is actually not really how it feels. Looking at a scope just feels like you are running an application. I actually don’t see any difference, usability-wise, between running an app and a scope… other than launching a scope is a bit clunkier (lots of swipes as opposed to a single click or tap).

In other words: “Scopes” doesn’t actually feel like part of the home screen at all. It feels like a series of slower-than-normal to navigate to apps.

Side note:

Keep trying to convince me that Scope are awesome. I’m finding it really helpful in figuring out Canonical’s plans here. Not super psyched about Scopes at the moment (as you can probably tell)… but trying to use them and keep an open mind.

Use the Scopes Luke. :smile:

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Not all things expose RSS feeds. I agree, for RSS content, an RSS reader is better. Scopes expose multiple types of content though and provide tools and features to consume them.

I think… sorta, yeah. Your points have merit; I would basically agree that “launch my comics app” on Android is probably, if anything, a bit faster than “switch to my comics scope” on Ubuntu. However, one of the things I do quite a bit is a sort of quick scan to see “what’s going on”. On Ubuntu, that’s just swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe – the same gesture and I’m scrolling through Ubuntu news, my emails, Untappd checkins, etc. On Android (well, actually, on iOS because that’s what I’ve got) it’s “find app on home screen, go into it, exit back to home screen, find next app on home screen, exit back to home screen, find next app…”, and that feels way clunkier. If you know you want one thing, and you know where it is, then opening its app on Android is probably easier than opening its scope on Ubuntu. (Although opening its app on Ubuntu is the same amount of time; apps are the front page of the Dash.) And, I shall say again, aggregation: “find a particular song” (which I do a lot, when my daughter says “can you play Some Bullshit Modern Song by Ke£ha”) is way faster on Ubuntu because it’s “pull up Dash bottom edge, pick Music, enter song, see where it’s available, play it”, and elsewhere it’s a lot slower because it’s “open app 1 (youtube), enter song, oh it’s not there, back to home screen, open app 2 (grooveshark), enter song, oh it’s not there, back to home screen…”

I think the Google Now comparison is apposite, here, again. If I know that I want the Liverpool football result, I would normally open my LFC football results app to get it; I would not open Google Now and then scroll down and look for the result. Similarly I think with scopes…

So it’s kind of like the difference between…

A) having a cable TV subscription, not knowing what you want to watch, and just channel surfing for a while…


B) Knowing you want to watch a specific show and launching Netflix.

Is there a web comic you know of that doesn’t provide a feed like this? :smile:

Kinda, I suppose, although am not convinced by that analogy (Netflix allows browsing, etc). But I sorta see what you’re aiming at. I think I’m starting to conceive of scopes as “lightweight apps”, which people have said before, but I think that the mistake that’s been made is that people hear that as being “they have a lightweight UI” or “they are lightweight in terms of file size”, which are techie things that nobody real cares about. What scopes are, I think, is lightweight in attention – they’re easy to browse through and expose stuff you care about without a lot of cognitive load required to get it. (Google Now is similar, here, I reckon.)

Here is an article about Scopes:

Order of the stick doesn’t as far as I can tell. If you are into tabletop roll playing it’s an amazing comic. If it does have an official one, I haven’t found it. Not that I’d use it anyways, can’t remember the last time I actually looked for an rss feed.

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This comparison is interesting because you picked one of the few things that are actually an aggregated system already. If I understand this correctly, and I’m not sure I do, aggregated scopes are kind of a RSS for everything.

I have a folder that’s called Social on my phone, and it has apps for Telegram, Twitter, SMS and so forth. I have another folder called Sound that has apps for podcasting, mp3s. And another for video (Netflix, HBO Nordic +++) and one for Files (Dropbox,, local files +++)

Since the underlying data is thematically the same, these could be 4 scopes: messages, sound, video and files - and thereby reducing my 16-20 apps to 4 scopes.

But I don’t see the benefit of single service scopes yet.

See how many things are wrong in this

I’ve counted a few.

I am also not very convinced.

On my Android device I have two screens one for Google Now and second for my apps. Google Now is suppose to provide me with all the aggregated content in an immediate fashion in a single screen.

If Scopes are pre-made screens then that would mean all my content is segregated and there is a good chance that I will never visit a lot of screens/scopes.

Where does Scopes get its data from? Is it processed on the device and unique for each individual user?

Would using Scopes mean I will have to paint myself brown? If Scopes are Ubuntu only then I will have to use everything Ubuntu which I clearly don’t and wouldn’t. Are Scopes available for KDE, Android, iOS, and Web?

Data mining is a hard problem. Google with its army of computer science and mathematics PhDs and tonnes of data have clearly not mastered it. When I moved from US to India, YouTube, Play Store, etc. they all started showing me regional Indian content. I was quite perplexed with the choice Google made for me there. I highly doubt other folks could process data better than Google.

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