What Will Apple Borrow Next?


Apple has a history of either buying apps or boldly copying features from developers and including them in OS X. So what borrowed features could we see next in OS X?

Software companies frequently acquire other technologies to speed up development of their own platforms, and Apple is certainly no stranger to acquisitions. Cover Flow, LogicPro, Shake, DVD Studio Pro, and several other high-profile apps and features all arrived on Apple desktops via acquisitions. iTunes is probably the most well known of those acquisitions — formerly known as SoundJam MP from a company called Casady & Greene, which Apple bought in 2000.

But Apple has also borrowed its fair share of features from other developers without acquiring the company. OS X’s Dashboard feature is thought by many to be a complete rip-off of an older software package called Konfabulator from Arlo Rose (now owned by Yahoo, called Yahoo Widgets).

With Apple’s next operating system, code-named Snow Leopard, rumors have surfaced that the OS will implement screen recording features using Quicktime. This capability has long been left to third-party developer apps such as Snapz Pro, SceenFlow, and iShowYou. Time will tell how well (if at all) Apple actually implements such a feature, but if it does, it’s just another one on a long list. More than a few developers are probably already stewing over the fact that Apple introduced minor editing and sharing capability into Quicktime X at WWDC.

So what could Apple add next?

Though the recent rumor of Apple acquiring Twitter was laughable in my mind, it got me thinking. Apple doesn’t need to buy Twitter, but it could easily borrow a few features from other developers and add Twitter connectivity into OS X on a few levels.

First the obvious. Apple already bundles iChat with every Mac. It’s easy to use and already offers integration with AIM and Jabber, so why not add Twitter into the mix as well? It’s a good-looking app, has shortcuts available via the menu bar, integrates with OS X’s Mail application, and more.

Safari140 Plugin

Safari140 Plugin

Because Apple controls the most popular browser on the Mac platform, Safari, it could also integrate URL-shortening and “Tweet This” -style features into iChat and Safari, making it the most complete Twitter client for Mac users. Oh, by the way, the ability to “Tweet This” in Safari is already available via Safari 140, a plugin from David Watanabe.

It’s clear that social networking is here to stay, and Apple has a great opportunity to add many social networking features into their apps, and the OS itself. The only questions are will Apple do it, and from whom might it creatively “borrow” features?

What features do you think Apple should add next?


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