Today Canonical has released the second alpha of Ubuntu 11.04, codenamed Natty Narhwal. This released will be followed by another alpha, a beta and a release candidate before the final version is released in April 2011.
Compared to the first alpha, this release marks the addition of most of the new features we will see in the final release. One of the most significant changes in this release has to the inclusion of LibreOffice in place of OpenOffice.org. Another change in the default application is that Banshee music player has replaced Rhythmbox.
People who have been calling for the Unity launcher to have an auto-hide feature will be happy to know that intelli-hide is now enabled by default. What the intelli-hide does is that it hides the launched only when it is obstructing an active window. The Software Center continues to get improved as well. The long-awaited application rating and review system finally makes an appearance in this release.
The much talked about global menu has also been included in this release as App Menu. Users of Mac OS X will already be familiar with this. It is the system where the menu is included in the panel instead of having it separate for different open windows. It was originally planned for inclusion in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition, but did not make it. The App Menu is supported in both the Unity UI and the classic GNOME desktop.
If you want to try out these new features, you can download the live CD from http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/natty/alpha-2/
WebUpd8 has also made a video review of these new features.