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  • The Leopard Report: I Bet You Haven’t Heard Everything!

    June 21st, 2007

    When Steve Jobs said at the WWDC last year that some Leopard features were being held back to keep Microsoft from starting their copying machines so early, it was really hard to take seriously. It was all a bunch of marketing hooey, the soft of stuff that’s designed just to increase the public’s appetite about a new product.

    Indeed, Jobs is a master at salesmanship, so I figured there’d be a whole lot more at this year’s WWDC, particularly since developers were supposedly going home with feature-complete Leopard betas. I also felt that pretty much everything that could be said about Leopard’s new features would be listed at Apple’s site in short order.

    To be sure, there’s lots of information to be found there, but if you add it all up, do you come up with the more than 300 new features touted by Apple?

    Now you have to bear in mind that Apple is grouping those features under broad categories, such as the new Finder, iChat, Mail, Spaces, Time Machine and so forth and so on. Each one of those applications is apt to have a dozen or two new capabilities to call their own. So it’s quite possible that if you add everything up, and accept even the slightest change as a brand new feature, you will find yourself exceeding that 300 number, although they aren’t listed as basic bulleted points.

    No, I haven’t gone that far, and I don’t intend to. I’m sure that, when Leopard ships, you will indeed find that Apple’s claims will be met or surpassed, but I’m also convinced you haven’t heard everything yet.

    I’m not assuming that developers don’t have all of Leopard’s goodies in hand. No doubt a few of them, who don’t have the good sense to obey the confidentiality agreements they signed with Apple, will reveal whatever strikes them as new or different.

    It’s also possible that some of the new features are indeed present and accounted for, but not activated as part of the graphical interface, so they are not readily visible. In fact, it would surprise me to learn that we know all about Leopard there is to know, except for the usual tips and tricks that Mac writers will present in their articles and books.

    Remember, for example, the iPhone. Just this week, Jobs revealed that the screen would be made of glass instead of plastic, and that battery life is significantly longer than originally claimed.

    As Leopard moves towards its final release this fall, it wouldn’t surprise me to read about new features that haven’t been disclosed so far. Maybe they are present in those developer betas, unknown unless one pours deep into the innards of the operating system or discovers them by accident.

    Or maybe, just maybe, there aren’t there at all. It would be just as easy for Jobs to claim, say a month or two from now, that Apple’s developers had time to roll in a few more features that perhaps were originally earmarked for Leopard’s successor. But, as a gift to the Mac community, here they are now.

    Does that sound sensible to you? It sure makes sense to me. But let’s not go too far here. Remember that Tiger’s full feature set was disclosed early on, and the final release was precisely what was presented; nothing more, nothing less.

    Certainly, developers don’t want to be surprised at the last minute, because it could saddle them with extra work to make their apps compatible with Leopard. But if Apple confines those surprise features to things that won’t impair compatibility with third party products, maybe it’ll be all right.

    Then again, you can’t predict what outside developers are going to do with their products, so perhaps anything that changes their assumptions about what Leopard’s going to be like can have a negative impact.

    Understand, dear readers, that I do not have any secret information to offer. I am not speaking with developers about Leopard, nor do I want or expect them to offer me any information they aren’t allowed to reveal. While I am certainly highly curious over what Leopard is going to mean as far as my Mac computing experience is concerned, I can surely wait for it to be fully baked. In fact, I expect to buy a copy on the day it’s available.

    However, the 10.4.10 update for Tiger is working quite nicely. Yes, there are a few of those early-release bugs that seem to crop up whenever there’s a maintenance release. Some are reporting audio issues, others poor connectivity with wireless networks and even some application launch failures. It’s quite possible that these apparent bugs are limited to very specific installations, but that may not be known for a few days.

    So if 10.4.10 is awaiting you in the Software Update preference panel, there’s no harm in letting it sit there for a few more days until you know for sure everything is in good shape. But I’ve had no troubles at all, so I’m busy contemplating the possibilities of further revelations about Leopard. There may not be any, but this is surely a way to get some rumor sites to start their gossip machines rolling.



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    8 Responses to “The Leopard Report: I Bet You Haven’t Heard Everything!”

    1. Ronald says:

      The 200 features claims was done also for Tiger. I have it save as a PDF somewhere, and you can find it here:
      http://www.apple.com/macosx/newfeatures/over200.html. So nothing extraordinary, that Apple will pull the same rabbit out of their hat again. Does not mean however that all those features are going to be useful…

    2. Link33 says:

      I wonder if maybe Apple juste can’t get a decent Finder rewrite. Maybe they are just not up to the job of writing an application that interacts with the file system. I think of Labels for files and I remember when they added it to System 7. But then in OS X, it took them 3 major releases to get Labels back again. And it’s no better than the 1990 technology. So for my money, if they have to put 200 of those new features into a remarkable Finder… I can live with that. A Finder that doesn’t lose it’s head on a bad CD or DVD would be worth it.
      And not just the Finder. Why can’t Mail assume it ought to load into RAM all the unread messages in your inbox? Especially those with graphics. Or at least process them so it doesn’t have to parse a full resolution image down to a scaled version when you do read it. Seems logical if I bother to check for unread messages at some point I will read them. Just anticipate it already.
      Apple can do better and I don’t understand why they don’t.

    3. Steven says:

      Leopard does look like an excellent update and will be very successful but am I wrong in saying I expected more?
      Vista has not gone well, there was no ‘wow’ and it will be a while before it supplants xp. I thought this was an excellent opportunity for Apple to ‘wow’, but from what I’ve seen it’s at most a ‘cool’.
      Hopefully you will be right and there will be more in this update and Apple can capture more disillusioned windows users. With this update Apple has the chance to not only keep the momentum going but make larger inroads.

    4. hmurchison says:

      apple Inc. certainly hasn’t played their full hand. The finder is more than just superficial treatments. Reports are that the aggravating pauses when dealing with network shares is gone. Local sharing of computers has improved. And I’m sure there are more features. People often forget that Apple has a reputation for keeping things simple. Thus you’re not going to generally see them skew towards feature creep (iTunes being the exception)

      Every new version of OS X comes with time to assess what is better left to 3rd parties vs what’s best done by the OS. The OS isn’t supposed to be your application it’s supposed to enable applications to utilize the frameworks available to exceed the functionality of native tools. We still use Word and other WP apps although text edit is capable for many text needs.

      Each person needs to accurately assess what their own personal needs are. A lot of people want flash and new shiny stuff without regard to whether or not the features really work or improve efficiency. Leopard is flashy enough where it needs to be but there are a lot of nuts and bolts stuff that have been polished and retrofitted. My OS doesn’t need to entertain me…it needs to make me a more efficient computer user.

      I think consumers have grown resistant to learning new things. On one hand people want to be impressed but when confronted with a new way of doing thing or a new paradigm many freak out. Take a PC user who’s fluent in Office 2003 or earlier and put them on Office 2007. The tools are generally the same but the location is vastly different. Many are not happy.

      Leopard is the evolution that it needs to be. Everyone gets something. Developers get Objective C 2.0 and fantastic tools like Xray. Consumers get niggling issues corrected and new stuff to play with. The key thing to remember is is doesn’t come easy. Developers have to learn the new stuff and consumers need to explore new ways of doing things as well.

    5. gjs says:

      I was (and still am) hoping for increased ease-of-use and intelligence, especially in the Finder. I see some hope in announcements saying active windows will be more visually prominent and networking will be simplified. I wish I’d heard something about my personal pet peeves — such as Finder’s sometimes muddled column view navigation and open & save dialogs that lack the smarts “Default Folder” adds. Not sexy stuff, but things that slow me down every day.

      I’ll withhold judgement until the final release comes out, but speed, stability, and useabilty are the metrics I will use to decide whether this Leopard roars.

    6. You bet I haven’t heard everything? How about this headline? “Vista more secure than OS X” 🙂

    7. You bet I haven’t heard everything? How about this headline? “Vista more secure than OS X” 🙂

      Well, they never explain why every single penny that’s been lost as a result of a virus happened under Windows.

      Peace,
      Gene

    8. JFrater says:

      While I really enjoyed the keynote, I was a little dissapointed that we didn’t get more – and I was also annoyed that so many of the ten exciting new features were things that had been announced at last year’s WWDC. I hope that there more hidden secrets coming that we don’t know about, but something makes me think that won’t be the case. I guess this is a constant problem when Apple products are so over-hyped by the community before they come out.

      http://www.joyofapple.com/os-x/new-features-in-os-x-leopard-server

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