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The first change you’ll notice is the introduction of this splash screen while Raspbian loads, complete with version number in the bottom-right. The Foundation’s Long stresses that boot times remain the same.
Icons on the taskbar, menu, and file manager have been refreshed.
The Foundation’s Long said their new design is businesslike but “with a touch of playfulness”.
To create a cleaner interface, icons have also been removed from individual application menus by default.
Another change should make it more obvious when the Pi is not getting enough power or is overheating, thanks to new bolt and thermometer icons.
There are 16 new desktop backgrounds, a selection of stunning landscapes from around the globe.
The backdrops can be swapped using the Appearance Settings application.
Chromium for Pi
Perhaps the biggest change to the default applications is the replacement of Epiphany web browser with Chromium for Pi, which uses the Pi’s hardware to accelerate video playback.
It’s now easier to control the Pi from another computer, thanks to the addition of the remote access software RealVNC.
Both the server and viewer are included in PIXEL, to allow the Pi to both be controlled by and control other machines.
For those who want to experience what it’s like to use the Pi to control hardware, Raspbian now also includes the Sense HAT emulator.
Sense HAT is an add-on board that is bundled with various sensors, a joystick and an LED matrix that the Pi can interact with. The emulator allows you to test code written for Sense HAT without owning a board.
The bundled versions of the drag-and-drop programming tools Scratch and Node-RED have also been updated.