Blog Post

What Steve didn’t mention

There has been a lot of complaining about the lack of new features in The WWDC keynote yesterday. I guess Apple geeks get very excited at the prospect of a new OS. I know I was queueing with everybody else for the Tiger launch.

But there are a few things which went unmentioned yesterday, a few reasons to get more excited and a few reasons we didn’t see anything really big.

First off, the ‘lack’ of, well, cool new stuff. This is the WWDC after all, so the only things that were previewed are those things the developers need to have great apps ready for the Spring. Sure, there was some flash and some fireworks, but what gets a lonely programmer (and ravenous press) fired up like little taste of “Superfluous Visual Extras”?

New iChat eye-candy shows off some of stuff. It shows how Core Animation can be put to use, and also how this stuff can be put to use in an enterprise environment. Remote Keynotes? Awesome. Not for me, but if you hook a Mac up to a projector you can pretty much beam in a presentation from anywhere. And it’s 2-way. That’s big stuff for office types. Apple are chasing the business market now.

What we saw today is a preview of the new under-the-hood stuff coming in Leopard: Core Animation, system wide integrations of ToDo lists, possibly revolutionary system wide backup (Time machine will be useless unless it works with ALL apps. All, not just most), Virtual workspaces, and what most people seem to be missing, 3D interfaces.

Yup. 3D interfaces. Take another look at Time Machine. You have a 3D bar there at the bottom of the screen, and a couple of arrows on the z-axis (pointing in and out of the screen)

I think the reason for such over the top visuals (drifting star field anyone) is to make the devs realize what they can do with the new Core Animation tool. Sure, this stuff could be horrible, but you can be that the Human Interface Guidelines will have a big new section on this stuff.

For an example of a 3d interface done (very) right, take a look at CoverFlow.
The picture explains it best:

Coverflow screenshot

This app has been in beta since forever, but with Core Animation, it looks like Jonathan del Strother, the developer, will be able to whip up a feature enhanced version in a few minutes.

Probably the most disappointment came from the lack of a new Finder.

The Finder, along with the other Apple applications, won’t be shown until at least January Macworld. These are things that a) are probably nowhere near finished (we’re at least 6 months away from a release) and b) irrelevant to the developers. And importantly c) of interest to Microsoft.

I really think what we have seen is a taster of the new nuts and bolts. The UI and app innovations will show up much nearer release. Really, guys. Apart from a few new Dock and Toolbar icons, this looks exactly the same as Tiger.

Think about it. The stuff we didn’t get to see is likely what will be changing the most. Why laugh at MS’s attempt at a Spotlight ripoff and not show anything?

Now. A few cool features you might have missed:
iChat. Remote Desktops. In 3D. Now we can troubleshoot our family and friends right over iChat. Again, the picture says it best.



Also tabbed chats, and multiple logins.

iCal: shared calendars. You publish it and other people can change it. iCal Server, which will let you book conference rooms (!)

Mail: RSS support. Yes. You heard right.

So finally, this show was for the Developers. But some of them suffered. There’s always the chance of having your great software product assimilated.

It happened to Konfabulator (although they did fine in the end at Yahoo), Watson (which was a shame, as Sherlock has all but died now), LiteSwitch.

But aften the Apple versions are not as fully featured, so there is still a (admittedly smaller) market for the original.

So what can we expect to see in trouble this time? Well, any backup applications.

SuperDuper is a good example. They have had a version to roll back the system to a previous state available for years now.
Adium is the king of chat clients for OS X. But it’s open source, so nobody will suffer except the users if it dies.
Pulp Fiction. An RSS reader modeled on Mail.
• And any virtual desktop solutions. I think these will be the worst hit. The main problem with them is that they never seem to integrate quite right with the OS. But take a look anyway. We’ve got until the Spring! VirtueDesktops and You Control Desktops.

8 Responses to “What Steve didn’t mention”

  1. Graybaby

    For those of you who recently bought SuperDuper, and appear unhappy about it, you certainly shouldn’t be.

    Unless of course you want to wait until spring 2007 to start backing up your system.


  2. Nick. I read what the ChatFX guys has to say and you’re right, they’re pretty cool about it.
    This is the kind of thing which makes Mac developers so great. Look at Gus Mueller over at VoodooPad, for instance. You just want to pay for their stuff.


    Very good point on Time Machine. I hadn’t thought of that. Which makes me think that there is maybe some other aspect that might be added to applications?


    Hey, I bought SuperDuper too. I just mentioned a few of these apps as they have a similar feature set to the new built in stuff. For every Watson there’s a Quicksilver. Remember when (nearly) everyone was sure Spotlight would kill it?

  3. It’s not brought up much, but DesktopManager/VirtueDesktop use some hidden APIs Apple built into the OS in Mac OS X 10.3, then left unused outside of 1 Infinite Loop for 10.3 and 10.4.

    Rich (The DesktopManager dude) talks about them here: (Search for CGSSetWorkspace).

    So sometimes people make cool features, and sometimes Apple uses cool features they put into the OS and other people found. :-)

  4. As far as Time Machine goes…I believe it when I see it work. I have SuperDuper! too. I thought Apple’s Backup was just awful. It never seemed to ever work. Let’s see if Time Machine works reliably first. Until then, I’m sticking with SD!

  5. Re: All apps having to support Time Machine – all apps won’t have to support Time Machine for it to be useful, not at all.

    All apps that save a file somewhere can be Time Machined by using the Finder to go back and find a past saved document.

    Sure, the experience will be nicer if you could browse the contents of the file as you go back, but purely from a backup and restore perspective, as long as you can see the file in the finder, you’ll be able to use Time Machine to go back to a previous state.

  6. Great point with CoverFlow – that hadn’t even occured to me.

    And you’re absolutely right, it’s a Developer conference. The rest of us use it as a spring board for all that’s to look forward to, but at the end of the day, it’s for the devs’ benefit.

    At least one app you didn’t reference as something that’ll most likely fall by the way-side come Leopard, is ChatFX. They currently do the ‘green screen’ action for video chats with iSight. They comment on the topic here – and are pretty amicable about it. Tough spot to be in, but makes me more likely to follow them in the future with such a good attitude towards software evolution.