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  • The Leopard Top Secret Report: Give Me a Break!

    August 8th, 2006

    Perhaps the most important statement in an otherwise unsurprising keynote was the admission by Steve Jobs that some of the features of Leopard were still “top secret.” Now there may be a psychological factor here, to deliver the news in bits and pieces over the next seven to ten months of development time.

    But there is a more probable explanation, which is simply this: Some of the key Leopard features are simply not ready to display in prime time. They are in the early stages of development, extremely rough and won’t be rolled in until the interface and stability elements are much farther along.

    Of course, as developers get newer and newer editions of Leopard operating system builds, some of this information will leak to third parties. You’ll read about them in your favorite rumor and speculation site, or in the updates to Apple’s own Leopard site.

    So if you feel disappointed at where Leopard is going, hold on. There may be a lot more to come, and I’ll suggest a few areas where it may go.

    Of course, there’s the Finder. Lots of folks are aching for stability improvements, which won’t change the look in any meaningful way. But it’s also possible that Apple will smooth out the interface consistencies. None of that seemed in evidence during Monday’s keynote, where Leopard looked very much like Tiger, except for the feature enhancements and new capabilities.

    It is also possible that some of the other features will be fleshed out further. Mail, for example. Having stationery, notes and a To Do feature are nice, but I probably won’t use them. However, some might crave for improved support for connection to Exchange servers, and a bunch of other things that are currently provided in other mail clients.

    As far Dashboard: It’s nice to be able to build your own by the simple act of saving a Web page, but what about the ability to take a widget and move it into the normal application layer, so you don’t have essentially move everything aside when you want it to appear? Third parties add-ons can do that now, and I rather suspect Apple might as well, since Jobs made a point of saying that they were responding to user requests in making feature improvements for Leopard.

    Another question mark is Front Row. How will it be used on a Mac without the remote sensor capability, or will Apple provide a special USB-based adapter and remote control kit for older models? That would certainly justify rolling the application into Leopard, making it less dependent on specific Mac models.

    Before the keynote, I had breakfast with a marketing representative for a software company, and we both wondered whether the Rosetta emulation environment would get a speed boost. It would seem natural. The Intel version of Mac OS X was clearly rushed to market to get the hardware transition rolling. Rosetta runs fairly well as it is, but major applications lose half their speed potential.

    Of course, having a Mac Pro that’s up to twice as fast as the speediest Power Mac will compensate, but I would think that Apple and its partner, Transitive, are continuing to develop Rosetta. In the end, I expect improved compatibility, and maybe even a fairly decent performance boost.

    You see, Transitive has claimed a lot faster than 50% of native speed in its core technologies. Is it possible or just marketing-speak?

    To be sure, the chatter about Mac OS 10.5 Leopard is only beginning, and Microsoft may even now be wondering whether they can get Vista out first. Their window of opportunity is being reduced even as we speak.



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    12 Responses to “The Leopard Top Secret Report: Give Me a Break!”

    1. woz says:

      And let’s not forget Boot Camp.

      Now Built In
      Mac OS X Leopard offers some new standard features you may have seen before.
      Boot Camp

      Out of beta and standard in Leopard.

    2. a brody says:

      I’m really glad Leopard will include a backup utility. Whether it is a bootable backup remains to be seen. But it does say the entire hard disk will be backed up, which sounds like a true clone.

    3. Eva says:

      Hey if TimeMachine is included in Leapard then does what will happen to the backup software in .Mac? Hmmm.

    4. Robert Boylin says:

      I’m betting that some features are embargoed due to their being directly tied to new hardware products. Disclosure and demonstration of their merit could have disclosed Apple’s new hardware’s features. I’l bet Jobs can’t wait for their launch!

    5. Dave says:

      Finder sminder. I’ve been using Macs since ’88 and I can’t tell you where the finder starts or leaves off in the scheme of things. Wow this is a big need. Exchange is when I trade my dollars for euros. Did you think that maybe the reason Spotlight doesn’t have a QT demo may be because a demo might show changes to the Finder etc. As far as desktop widgets, I can wait for them. The very idea of Widgets, pop into view when needed, disappear when not is fine with me. The piece is a little light insight wise ….. maybe because you’re on the road. Try CR’s new issue enumerating the costs of virus/spyware and not indicating taht there are alternatives, or so I’m told.

    6. Tero says:

      Actually, the most interesting new feature here is the spaces. Although a Linux/UNIX UI (age old) rip-off, it is a must-have, killer functionality, if done correctly. I’m personally amazed how people can work effectively without virtual desktops (as they’re known in the *NIX world). I’m always running a bunch of applications simultaneously and–without virtual desktops–having them all on a single “desktop-view” drives me nuts: Accessing the desired app is just plain difficult and annoying; having more than 10 apps running at the same time goes beyond the limits of traditional Windows’ and OSX’s application/windows management capabilities. You wouldn’t want to go that far, though at times you need to.

      A good idea is for each virtual desktop to have its own wallpaper that quickly separates it from the others, and scatter the applications to various desktops so that they’re grouped logically.

      That’s why I always, when working on an old fashioned desktop UI, desperately try to strike CTRL+4 to go to the desktop number 4 where my email/contact application resides, etc.

      Finally Apple has seen the light and dared to copy this. OK, they perhaps copied a lot more stuff than this alone for Leopard, but of those this is actually important and something that had to be done to make people more productive with their Macs. Too bad one needs to buy this half-hearted attempt of an OS update to get that feature… Why do you need to pay for a service pack? And if new features are indeed coming, and can’t even be demoed at this point of time, then how can this thing be released within 10 months from now?

    7. 2stepbay says:

      And what about the comment ” Leopard’s complete package”. Is Apple going to include the iLife suite with the new cat? Jobs alluded to it, but didn’t go any further.

    8. The Amazing Carnack says:

      I somehow forsee Apple making heavy use of Core Animation in the Finder and Dock. Just take some of the visual cues from the Time Machine demo (with the windows) or that album screensaver demo (probably much more relevant if you watch the type of interactivity) and there is probably going to be a bunch of eye candy with how windows and other things work. This is probably one reason why the Finder in the demo looked unchanged. Come MWSF 2007, the real Leopard Finder will probably be unveiled and the change may be reminiscent of how OS X DP3 had the OS8/9 style Platinum theme during WWDC 1999 and Aqua was first unveiled at MWSF 2000. Somehow though, I doubt lot of the annoying things that people have been complaining about will be fixed either.

      I just hope the effects won’t be annoying during real use IF Apple does indeed turn the Finder into a sort of dimensional navigational space ala the old Project X (aka HotSauce) concept app they had back in the System 7 days. For those too young to even know what it was, there is a brief blurb and screenshot on Wikipedia -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HotSauce)

    9. The Amazing Carnack says:

      I somehow forsee Apple making heavy use of Core Animation in the Finder and Dock. Just take some of the visual cues from the Time Machine demo (with the windows) or that album screensaver demo (probably much more relevant if you watch the type of interactivity) and there is probably going to be a bunch of eye candy with how windows and other things work. This is probably one reason why the Finder in the demo looked unchanged. Come MWSF 2007, the real Leopard Finder will probably be unveiled and the change may be reminiscent of how OS X DP3 had the OS8/9 style Platinum theme during WWDC 1999 and Aqua was first unveiled at MWSF 2000. Somehow though, I doubt lot of the annoying things that people have been complaining about will be fixed either.

      I just hope the effects won’t be annoying during real use IF Apple does indeed turn the Finder into a sort of dimensional navigational space ala the old Project X (aka HotSauce) concept app they had back in the System 7 days. For those too young to even know what it was, there is a brief blurb and screenshot on Wikipedia -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HotSauce).

    10. Taylor says:

      These CoreAnimation effects sure look similar to those features available in WinFX (in .NET).
      “New” email features look pretty lame. Doesnt this stuff already exist in other email clients (Entourage).

    11. JoshT says:

      Stationary, notes, to-do notes are new features? We had this in Outlook for the last decade. Whats so innovative about that?

    12. DWalla says:

      Finder and issues with Finder and networking are my primary concerns. IMHO it’s by far the biggest area that needs fixiing/enhancing.

      Second on my list would be greatly enhanced PC/Mac networking.

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