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I've seen a number of questions about lenses, and I've picked up enough to work out that it's something to do with the Unity shell in Natty, but I haven't really worked out exactly what is meant by it. So can someone give me (or link to) a good description of what a lens is?

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It is a graphical interface for a task, it is also linked in with the dash for search results. for example when clicking the application lens it shows the apps in a nice, slick interface , with other results for like app to download and most frequent apps.

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If you hover over the "lenses" tag below your question, you'll see this succinct description:

Lenses are elements of the Unity Dash that provide a UI to search both the web and application data.

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