Will Google Desktop break under Leopard?

More than two years after Google released version 1.0 of its Google Desktop Search for Windows PCs, the company today released Google Desktop for Mac OS 10.4. But a questionable choice in its creation makes me wonder if it’ll soon be unusable with this spring’s release of OS 10.5.

In A Quick, Possibly Incomplete Guide to What Gets Installed by the Google Desktop Installer, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber reveals that Google Desktop installs an input manager hack in the top-rooted Library folder.

A discussion of why input managers are suspect is beyond the scope of this article. Matt Neuburg’s Are Input Managers the Work of the Devil? TidBits article is a good introduction and overview. Also relevant, especially with regard to installing these things silently, is my own piece on Smart Crash Reports.

But more important than Input Manager plugins being considered suspect is the question of whether 10.5 Leopard will allow them at all. In Jacqui Cheng’s March 22 post to Ars Technica’s Infinite Loop blog, developer sources said InputManager plugins are no longer allowed in current builds of Leopard.

That’s right… no more little hacks from anybody besides Apple. No more Apple menu hacks. No more Safari plugins. (InputManager is not exactly the same as APE, by the way.) “Apple isn’t really broken up about it since InputManagers were often used for nefarious purposes anyway,” our sources said, but the loss of InputManager control will break a lot of shareware and commercial software that currently makes use of that control.

The fate of InputManagers is far from definite, however. In an update to the post two days later, a developer notes that “They’re not sure what the final behavior will be. Apple says they are deprecated, and in ‘a future release’ they will be disabled pernamently. They won’t say if that release is 10.5.x or 10.6.”

Google had a very large presence at this year’s Macworld Expo, and with their increasing focus on the Mac platform I have to assume they are utilizing Apple’s Developer Connection and have access to the current builds of Leopard. If so, it seems odd they would utilize such a controversial aspect of OS X, especially one with a questionable future.


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