Disclaimer: Alan is not privy to any insider information regarding Apple products, and if he did, he wouldn’t be stupid enough to post it online under his own name.
Apple have scheduled a media event for this Wednesday (around 6pm GMT) which will almost certainly announce new versions of Mac OS X, iLife and iWork. So, it’s time for some wild speculation about what we can expect from 10.7. One thing to bear in mind: I’m coming at this from the point of view of someone who is well-versed in the ways of the Mac, but I’ve tried to explain some of the more baffling Apple jargon and propaganda for general technology enthusiasts.
- It’ll be called Lion: obviously. There’s a lion on the event flyer. Things don’t get much Lion-ier than that.
- Facetime: Apple have been pushing Facetime video calling pretty hard on both the iPhone 4 and iPod touch. It’ll be coming to the iPad next year too, I’d wager. It’s only natural that Facetime will come to the Mac- probably as an iChat augmentation (and that might include re-branding iChat) and possibly as an update to the existing Snow Leopard software.
- Airplay: this is a key feature of the new Apple TV. It would be silly for Apple not to include it in Quicktime, iMovie 11 and iPhoto 11 slideshows, allowing you to stream your videos effortlessly onto your home TV. This could be even better if you can utilise third-party software and hardware to push any kind of video stream to the Apple TV, which would get around its draconian media restrictions.
- Dashboard overhaul: poor old Dashboard has been neglected since its debut in Mac OS X 10.4. Expect to see iOS apps as widgets to further leverage the success of the App Store.
- iCal, Address Book, Mail redesigns: to match MobileMe and iPad apps. There’s something wrong when using MobileMe calendar is preferable to iCal on the Mac and now is the time to rectify it. More intelligent data tagging would be a plus- Mail should pull Google/ Bing Maps information and add it into iCal event details.
- Enhanced Finder: as limited as the Finder is, it’s still better than the horrible mess that is Windows ‘Explorer’. We should expect more multi-touch functionality including tabbed views that can be swiped through- think Safari on the iPhone- pinch-zoom and rotation of icons. This could also be brought to Preview, although it has much of this already.
- TRIM support for solid state drives: rumours suggest a new MacBook Air is imminent, complete with an “SSD on a stick”. As Apple are rolling out SSDs to most of their product range, it makes sense to support these drives completely at the software level. TRIM runs maintenance commands to increase and maintain SSD performance.
- User interface based on iTunes 10: vertically arranged traffic light buttons, monochrome sliders and icons rather than multicoloured ones, windows will have a more accentuated gradient, buttons will blend seamlessly into the application frame, and it’ll look broadly similar to anyone who’s not totally anal about user interfaces.
- Lion will be resolution independent: you’ll be able to scale the size of buttons and system text to fit the size of your screen. Currently under Snow Leopard, that’s not possible, which is why text looks microscopic on a 27” iMac or 17” MacBook Pro. This will be important for users who value accessibility or their future eyesight.
- Death by a thousand cuts: Apple should have a huge community event where users submit their gripes and bugs with Mac OS X, like “you can’t have more than ten rules in Mail because it won’t let me scroll” and “clearer on-screen notifications for using multiple monitors”. Naturally you’d have to hire someone to weed out the Windows fanboys and their humorous suggestions, but it would be a great step towards tightening up the OS.
- iPhone virtualisation on the Desktop: when you connect your iPhone to the Mac (wirelessly- see my next point), it appears on-screen allowing you to quickly respond to texts, call contacts using your built-in microphone or webcam and access information in apps like to-do lists. Why can’t I do this right now?
- Easier syncing with iPhone: in an Ars Technica article published this morning, their idea of a data ‘conduit’ allowing free transfer of information between Mac and iPhone is intriguing. To take this point further, you shouldn’t have to sync with a USB cable any more. The Mac will automatically load apps onto the phone by wi-fi if you’re on the same network. New music will transfer from iTunes. It’s seamless and hassle-free. Imagine building a playlist in iTunes and knowing it’s already on your phone for your trip to the gym, or downloading a TV show before a long train journey and not having to worry about plugging in your mobile device.
- Windows 7 ‘Aero Snap’ window management: say what you like about Windows (don’t get me started!) but its seventh incarnation has brought some clever productivity enhancements. The excellent third-party utility Hyperdock replicates much of this functionality on my Mac, but it would be great to see this baked into the OS proper. I figure with all the ideas Microsoft have pinched from Apple over the past few years, it’s fair enough that they reciprocate for once.
- iPad and iPhone access to your Home folder on the Mac: iTunes document management is a joke- inane, complicated hoop jumping that is the antithesis of Apple’s core design philosophy. If you could see all your documents over a home wireless network from your iPad, browse through documents and photos… problem solved.
- Multiple monitors over Airplay: if you can stream video to the new Apple TV, why not your whole desktop? Playing games on your TV from your laptop without any wires would be amazing- and with the recent arrival of Steam on the Mac, there are many more worth playing.
- MobileMe for free: but only if you own a Mac. If Google can over similar services for free (Mail, Calendar, Contacts), soon to be joined by HTC and Microsoft (Find My Phone, online storage), I don’t see why Apple can’t open up MobileMe as a free service. The key point would be that it’s only free if you own a Mac, so Windows users would have an added incentive to upgrade. I wish people paid me for these pearls of wisdom.
Not a Chance:
- No Blu-Ray: it’s not going to happen, ever. It doesn’t look that much better than DVD; the licensing and costs would be expensive and Apple wouldn’t directly benefit from it; they want you to buy your HD movies from the iTunes Store; Mac OS X doesn’t support HDCP and it’s something Windows users have railed against; Mac sales are still on the increase without it; etc. etc. etc. In five years Sony will have developed another proprietary format that Apple won’t adopt either.
- No OS X on non-Mac computers: The Mac OS X licensing agreement currently prohibits installation on non-Apple hardware. Whether or not people adhere to this is another matter. However, licensing to other companies happened before and it didn’t work. Apple’s recent lawsuit with Psystar should be evidence enough for most people that there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of this happening in the future.
- No iOS layer on top of Mac OS: no multi-touch iMac, either. I’m not convinced iOS would work on a Mac: the iOS interface relies on the user physically tapping buttons and dragging sliders, which is broken by using a mouse. Multi-touch gestures would be a nightmare to line up on a trackpad. Also, how do you propose using an iMac with a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer? If there’s going to be a multi-touch iMac in the future, it won’t be revealed on Wednesday.
- No Mac OS app store: the App Store provides a useful repository for content on iOS, but it would be impractical at best and insane at worst to think this would work on a desktop system. Even if Apple made an online store for Mac apps, why wouldn’t you just download software directly from the developer or buy a physical disc like you’ve always done? There are no fundamental issues with content distribution on a traditional computer.
So there you have it. As a fun game, why not print out this article and tick off the points that I get right? Please post your own predictions- or just rant on how utterly wrong I am- in the comments below.