Ubiquity is one of those Firefox add-ons that makes my friends go wow when I show them what it can do.
In fact, Ubiquity started as a Mozilla Labs project and is still an experimental add-on and hasn’t even reached version 1.0 yet. But, the promise it shows is unbelievable and you can read a bit about it in my earlier Ubiquity review.
By typing a few commands you can check weather, open Google Maps to the address you want, send update to Twitter, email a site link or text selection in the page you are on, etc right from your browser.
This new version is dubbed the First International Ubiquity. It features a new input parser that supports many languages and this launch brings Ubiquity in Catalan, Danish, Japanese & Portuguese.
More Natural Commands
Plus, if you had used previous versions of it, you’d have noticed we had to use hyphens in commands like ‘add-to-calendar’, ‘close-all-tabs’, etc. making typing cumbersome. Version 0.5 brings more natural commands that supports spaces. Now you can say things like ‘add 9am meeting with the boss to calendar’.
New Interactive Tutorial
Learning and utilizing a powerful tool such as this requires a little bit of practice. Tutorials and tips go a long way. Ubiquity now has an interactive tutorial inspired by levels of video game tutorials. It holds your hand, makes you a cup of coffee, is ware of where you are and tells you what you can do every step of the way! I have used Ubiquity before but still found this new tutorial fun and easy to go through. Look for a link to it in the first welcome screen you see after you install it and restart Firefox.
Earlier when you entered a command that wasn’t in Ubiquity’s vocabulary, it would have just stared back at you. Now, it can make network calls to various web services and give you smart suggestions on what you might be after! For eg. if you typed a new command ‘Pasta’, now it will look up and show you maybe you want to query Yelp! To try it enable it from the ‘Settings -> Enable external calls for all Parser 2 queries’ screen. (Settings is actually in a web page and you can get to it from Add-ons and clicking on Ubiquity Preferences.)
New Command API
This may not sit well with Ubiquity command developers. If you have written commands, you have to rewrite them using the new API to take advantage of all the new features. Fortunately, the required updates are reportedly minor. Here’s a tutorial to help you out.
Ubiquity 0.5 is a large step in the right direction in the natural language interfaces. I used Humanized Enso Launcher for the very same reason but a little saddened to see not so much progress with it. Some of the Enso team actually worked in Ubiquity project as well! I use Launchy now.
The update isn’t pushed automatically so you have to install this to update your version.
If you haven’t tried Ubiquity yet, I highly recommend it. It can change the way you interact with your browser. For the better.
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