Richard Hughes posted information about the current PackageKit development. Recently PackageKit become capable of managing repositories and performing automatic updates with GUI support. Additionally, version 0.1 will be released these days and there is also work under way to create a KDE/Qt GUI.
PackageKit now includes the feature to switch repositories on and off. This is indeed useful for most Linux users out there since almost every user includes at least one more repository than the standard repositories (most often the additional repository comes along with non-free software). Of course average computer users are only supposed to change these values when they are advised to do so by the computer support or by a (good) howto – but there might be situations why this can become necessary, and in such cases a GUI is always better than the command line (this is the opinion of someone who is a voluntary help desk for years now).
As another feature PackageKit is now also able to notify when automatic updates are performed. The user can also cancel the task until further notice. The idea is that the automatic update is only done when the computer is idle (screen saver) and has a network connection (NetworkManager is used for that). If that is the case the user is still notified in case he wants to do something else or is short in front of a meeting or similar where he needs the absolute reliability of the machine.
Besides these new features of PackageKit itself we might see a KDE/Qt GUI in the near future: Adrien Bustany has started working at this and already published first results (Qt bindings). It would be really great to see native PackageKit support in for example KDE 4.1.
Speaking about future releases: the first official release of PackageKit is around the door: it was announced for this week and should therefore arrive soon. Besides the technical numbering for better planing and packaging such a release is also a declaration: PackageKit is stable enough to test it the first time. The APIs have matured up to a certain point and it is now worth looking at it.
And indeed: the Foresight distribution plans use PackageKit as their native frontend in the future. Congrats to the PackageKit team for that!
Besides these larger news the development goes on at high speed: the PackageKit team implemented local file install, support for new repository GPG keys and support for rollbacks. As usual, if the feature will work on your system depends on the backend and how far the backend supports these actions. In case PackageKit gets more spread (and I really hope it will do so) I wonder if we will se more development in the backends to better support PackageKit. Usually package management developers are very stubborn but PackageKit could even change that.
And maybe in some months PackageKit could start replacing the distribution specific tools slowly but steadily (relax, just for the average users!). That would be a silent, but large and really necessary revolution.