Blog Post

What Could Make OS X 10.7 Great?

With Apple’s (s aapl) release of operating systems slowing down considerably, some are left to wonder if OS X has any life left to it. Apple made no mention of the Mac platform at its WWDC keynote this year. Snow Leopard was considered a release aimed at polishing the experience with significant under-the-hood changes to set the stage for next-generation technologies, but what could be next? Here’s a look at some areas that would make 10.7 a significant upgrade.

Speech RecognitionSpeech Recognition

The Mac OS has had speech recognition built-in since the days of OS 9 and to be truthful, it’s never worked that great. But Apple has continued to make progress in this area with Voice Control on the iOS devices and its recent purchase of Siri. Could future Macs feature more natural and effective speech recognition?

Resolution IndependenceResolution Independence

OS X features limited support for resolution independence, but the operating system as a whole still doesn’t support this feature. If Mac displays will one day adopt densely packed pixels like the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, the operating system will need to support resolution independence.

A New FilesystemA New File System

Snow Leopard was rumored to originally include support for the ZFS file system, but due to licensing issues with Sun (s orcl) (developer of the file system), it didn’t make an appearance. Apple’s current implementation, HFS Plus, has been around since 1998 (the good ole days of OS 8.1). While it’s seen some improvements since then, an overhaul in this area could provide some major performance benefits to platform as well as better compatibility with other platforms.

Home Folder in the CloudHome Folder in the Cloud

With iDisk supporting a “home folder” like structure (Documents, Movies and Music folders to name a few) and local syncing, it can serve as a home folder in the cloud for most purposes. Without Terminal witchcraft, users are still left with a home folder on their iDisk and a home folder in their Users folder with no easy way to reconcile the two. Apple has always made a push for “a great experience” and what could be better than your whole home folder in the cloud, accessible from any Internet-enabled Mac? It’s almost like NetBoot on steroids but it would take a bit of foundational work first, for example, optimizing the file system. Could this be an extended use of the rumored North Carolina data center?

Front Row Take 2Front Row Take 2

Whatever Apple’s future plans for the Apple TV may be, Front Row on the Mac needs a substantial update. Built-in integration for Netflix (s nflx), Hulu Desktop, renting and buying content and better methods to sort and organize content could really propel this feature back into prime time. Apple would love to sell more iOS devices, but it also realizes that many of its users love the better performance dedicated media center Macs provide.

These are just a few ideas of some things Apple could introduce in 10.7. What do you think could be around the corner? What would you like to see? What do you think Apple will codename it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Report: Delivering Content in the Cloud

57 Responses to “What Could Make OS X 10.7 Great?”

  1. The glossy black minimalism of the Quicktime chrome could be rolled out to the rest of the UI, and I have to agree with the resize from anywhere comment – as someone who switched recently – this gets me every time.

    The iPad cloning of MobileMe Mail and Calendar should be rolled out to regular Mail and iCal. It is seriously strange that the best mail experience I can have, is on the smallest of the iPhone/iPad/iMac trilogy…

    If they don’t do it with the next version of iLife, then Facetime from the Mac is surely coming.

    And finally – let me sync my iWork documents via iDisk without even knowing I’ve had to do it. Including my iPad and the soon to be announced iWork 11…

    (OK, so the last lot aren’t really OS X, but the integration should be).

  2. Safari improvements. Not technically part of OS X, but close enough.

    I use Firefox mostly, Chrome frequently, and Camino sometimes. Almost never Safari. Safari’s bookmark management has fallen way behind. Apple software engineers are pretty smart about browsers, they know their weaknesses. Their claims about its speed don’t impress, otherwise I’d use Chrome all the time if speed meant everything.

  3. Larry Martin

    How about the 3D Desktop GUI effects available in Compiz such as used in most Linux O/S(s), i.e. Ubuntu? How about the 3D Desktop GUI that Sun Microsystems developed, “Project Looking Glass.”

  4. one feature from windoze i wouldn’t mind seeing is the ability to access connected media through the os (through upnp) I find it a bit silly that i have to run a 3rd party app to be able to stream my media to other devices- i’m sure itunes server or as i’d like to call it “ihub” would be able to help apple compete even more in the htpc arena.

    More home server utilities and services would be nice. For example i have 4 macs at home, including osx server’s ability to centralise os updates would be great.

    Facetime support in ichat (i’m sure this will make it to other apps if it’s an open standard)

    a standard notification system in the os – growl does an admirable job but when i’m copying multiple files for example, i’d like to have the transfer window always visible or easily accessible. Perhaps a widget in the menu bar (tho that’s getting cluttered) might help.

    more standardisation in window behaviours as mentioned by others

    anything with a small titlebar should be revamped (e.g the os font palette, colour selector etc)

    an ios layer such as dashboard that would allow me to run ios apps on my desktop – there might be practical uses but let’s be honest – it would be the quickest and easiest way to give macs a huge collection of games that wouldn’t need to be run under windows.

    a back up system that lets you create a bootable backup. I use super duper over time machine. I’d like time machine functionality to be streamlined and added into the os as a sort of history palette like you’d find in a design app. I want a history palette and multiple undo’s!

    • I really like the idea of Face Time through iChat. That’s a great idea. I would use it for sure. I would also like it if they integrated phone calls into iChat (for a premium like Skype does). That way I could call someone’s iPhone from my iChat phone number and do video chat with the person. I would let Skype go completely if I had that option.

    • I desperately await the day when Time Machine allows the creation of a bootable backup (even if has to be separate from the backups TM currently makes). I am also eager to see Time Machine give the option to open, backup, and close secure disk images or FileGuard safes. TM could do this by providing an optional advanced user interface that would support multiple backup sources and targets, the way Super Duper, Carbon Copy Cloner, ChronoSync, Synk, and most other backup programs do. None of these hold a candle to Time Machine’s method for searching through archived backups, looking for previous versions of files. If TM would just support multiple sources/targets/profiles and bootable backups, it would be perfect.

  5. I will never EVER put my home folder on another server. No matter how great the security may be. I don’t believe in cloud computing at all, do people really want to send all their personal stuff over the internet to a server far away?
    Not me.

    • Agreed. Especially when I deal with 200-500MB Photoshop files, and massive iPhoto and iTunes databases. The last thing I want is the entire computer to come to a crawl because it’s busy opening/saving/syncing a giant PS file.

      • Here’s another vote against having home folders in the cloud. Even if it were technologically practical to create a seamless experience, I wouldn’t want the security risks. It’s nothing personal, Apple. I simply don’t trust any company to keep a copy of my data on their servers, regardless of the promises of security.

  6. Lets start with the simple stuff…..

    Resize a windows from every edge.

    CUT and Paste

    Minimize/maximize buttons that have consistent behavior.

    iTunes scroll bars across the whole OS (get rid of that aqua junk).

    The ability to personalize your desktop more (kind of like themes in Windows).

    Advanced Finder for power user, much like pathfinder.

    Hover function on the dock like Windows 7.

    Fix time machine from at some point just breaking and can only be fixed with a full OS re-install.

    Fix inherited permissions on shared folders. Make it like Tiger (which is how Windows, and Snow Leopard SERVER works)

    Home folder in the cloud???? I pray its nothing like iDisk which is slower than dirt.

  7. Apple needs to focus on long-overdue, much needed improvements to text services. OS X’s existing text services are a blend of WordStar circa 1982 (i.e. ruler bar) and Word circa 1992 (RTF). They’ve changed little since 10.2, despite the fact that text creation and manipulation is one of the primary uses for Macs.

    Today, all serious word processors include paragraph and text styles, but OS X doesn’t, which means that developers of popular speciality applications such as Scrivener must either leave named styles out or spent an inordinate amount of time time developing them in-house. If OS X included named styles, creating documents as well as importing and exporting text between documents would be much easier and more predictable.

    There’s also an powerful open-source Unix utility Apple needs to bring into text services. GREP is like search and replace on steroids, as anyone who uses InDesign can attest. Apple should build a powerful GREP engine into OS-X, one that would allow GREP S&Rs to be saved and shared between applications and between users. The ordinary user wouldn’t need to know the intricacies of GREP. They could simply get the scripts from others and wow their poor Windows 7 friends with what they can do in a flash.

  8. wish: a dock icon hover function like on Windows 7–the only Windows feature I’d like to see on my mac. I know expose is great and all, but the hover function is simpler.

    • I have to disagree, though you certainly have the right to your opinion. I like expose a lot better. Now that I use a Magic Mouse, I have the hot corner set up (top left) for my expose, and I like holding down space as I move around to get a zoomed look of the windows. I hope they don’t get on the window snapping bandwagon, though. I tried it with BetterTouchTool, and I didn’t like it at all.

      I still think Windows 7 is an accident waiting to happen. Very unstable at times. It lives on the brink of disaster.

  9. Yes. Actually, I think these listed changes, plus improved speed from refinements and bringing all the out-of-date UNIX components up to date for the sake of security and so on — that would make for an excellent 10.7 update. It doesn’t need a bunch of new bells and whistles. It needs to be a meat-and-potatoes update that actually adds to functionality.

    Resolution independence especially; it’s just ridiculous to have a platform with manufacturer and third-party display options for anything ranging from about 85dpi to 133dpi — a range that’s growing all the time — without proper scalability of the user interface. And especially when you’re locked into a particular option with a particular machine; 102 for a 21 inch iMac; 110 or thereabouts for a 27 inch iMac or 13 inch portable; 128 dpi for a hi-res 15 inch MBP and 133 for the 17 inch MBP. People who pay the extra for higher resolution computers shouldn’t then also have to pay yet more for a trip to the optometrist and a new pair of glasses after the inevitable eye strain.

  10. I think it’s time to fix iTunes. First, separate device management from the iTunes Store, separate both of these from music database management.

    And then integrate these functions into the OS. For example, music database management could be done with a client-server model that handles multiple databases and multiple users using multiple devices. Same with photos, or iOS apps.

    • Yes, this would be a welcome addition, managing photos in a family has become a nasty business… everyone has their own pc and camera and hence their own library. Selling a low cost server which were to handle these for a family would be great!

  11. How about fixing file sharing and screen sharing’s ridiculous ability to NOT remember authorized user names and passwords? Honest to goodness, this is all I want from any update, large or small.

    • Open Keychain, it’s under Applications>Utilities, the go to the Keychain Access Menu, select Keychain First Aid (Alt+CMD+A).

      That helped me when program’s weren’t saving passwords. I don’t think its a problem with the sharing. It’s your Keychain.

      Give it a shot and see if it helps.

      • Thanks, but I’ve done that many times. It doesn’t help.

        We have no cable/satellite TV. Just two Mac Minis connected to four HDTVs throughout the house. We use iPhones and iPod Touches via AirPort to remotely control these TVs running Plex, Boxee etc.. It works beautifully with one big (and unnecessary) exception. Being forced to type in names and passwords with this rig is less than convenient, to say the least.

        This is not a new thing. I have seen this inept behavior with storing and recalling names and passwords since the earliest generations of OS X on many Macs. Problems with Keychains and Permissions are probably also related behavior. It seems high time that they fix it.

  12. 100% for resolution independence. The next “revolutionary” MacBook Pro, at least for me, will sport a retina display. Hey, that’s the display most of us spend the most of our time on, so it’s only a question of time before it’ll get to the same quality level as the iPhone 4.

  13. Thibault Halpern

    Another few things:

    1. iTunes and Front Row seem to have been somewhat developed independently of each other and now is the time to thing about how to better integrate the functions of iTunes and the functions of Front Row with the functions of the Finder. For instance, without knowing the history of how iTunes developed, it would seem to make no sense that one needs to open iTunes in order to sync iPod touch and iPhone. Why not simply allow the functions of iTunes become part of the Finder? Front Row is somewhat an invisible application in that pressing the ‘Menu’ button of the remote activates it and it becomes a TV like interface. That’s good, because we want the interface to be as seamless as possible. However, it’s silly that one can’t browse the App store and the iTunes store in an easy way via Front Row and that one can’t rent videos via Front Row.

    Essentially what I’m arguing for is a seamless integration of the functions of iTunes and Front Row with the Finder. This kind of seamless-ness means the user will not have to think about what application to open in order to do whatever it is they want. We basically want an environment where it is as much plug and play as possible without the user interface showing up its ugly head.

  14. How about TRIM support for SSDs? TRIM has been an ISO standard for almost a year now and still no support from Apple.

    A better printing/driver installation system would be much welcome. I was shocked at how much better Windows 7 is at printer installations, especially network printers. Automatic driver identification/download/install is much more user friendly.

  15. Like above person said fixing 10.6 Bugs first would be nice. Not sure what I personally would want to see apart from again like someone else said above no more Rainbow Wheel of Death! Something as polished as iPad would be great, hopefully it would not end up like iOS 4 on iPhone 3G though…. Lol.

    10.7: Black Panther?

  16. How about a built in server. You just place any documents that you want to access with http into a folder. The system converts them to PDF, indexes them then serves a website to access them. You would be able to access and or share any of your documents via the web without learning html or paying for hosting. Instant new www.

      • Yep, my vote would be to run Windows and Linux alongside OS X on top of an ultra high performing hypervisor.

        And fix the finder usability because it’s always been sucky. Maximizing unavailable/doesn’t work properly, folders not refreshing… gah.

  17. How getting rid of some of OS6’s bugs first,like

    overheating, waking up from sleep for no good reason, Safari 5.01 that refuses to add extensions,erratic spaces, etc.

    A glance at ” Snow Leopard: This Cat Has Fleas” will show some more.

  18. That wasn’t much of a wish list. The only thing I do not agree with is the ‘Clouded Home Folder’, which essentially is the same thing as the iDisk — which, well .. we already have :P.

    Although Front Row isn’t all that important to me, I could definitely become if it got a major overhaul — looking forward to see what Apple is going to do with all these Apple TV rumours too. An actual Apple TV set? Let me just check my wallet — oarh, I would very much like to have one of those.

    I’d like to see some more involved system enhancements, like new core features of how you work with a computer. Like, say some A.I. that recognizes your day-to-day patterns and uses this to aide you, possibly some integration with the speech recognition — getting deeper and deeper, sounds like sci-fi (Goodmorning Mac, Goodmorning Casper, Could you please read the headlines for me while I go get my coffe?, Sure thing Casper).. lol? :)

    Anyways, the point being I wish for something big, like really big and good stuff. Not just trivial stuff. Things that’d make you go ‘This is technology that belongs in like .. year 3647 .. -ish …”. :P

  19. Resolution independence would be a great new feature, as would having an entire new file system. I’m not so sure that having my home folder in the cloud would do much good. The reason is that in the U.S., we still don’t have enough regular, every day bandwidth to support this kind of a feature. I’ve worked on server/network configurations where the network just wasn’t fast enough to host homes on the server. That’s easy to fix with a faster switch, but just try to convince your ISP to speed up your bandwidth for a home folder in the cloud. I was disappointed that Apple didn’t mention 10.7 at WWDC this year, but I’m encouraged to know that they are indeed working on the new OS. My own blog stats from August 2nd show that someone at Apple visited my website from a Mac running 10.7.

  20. Dimandia

    I want you to make OS, here’s the point: User logs in as root, Admin and Guest. And if user is logged in as root, then root is in the file system, broken clusters attack Admin and Guest. Also you can rob Microsoft.

  21. Resolution Independence +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ yes! i thought of that too! its great to know someone else is thinking the same.

    also for apple tv it needs to pass ac3 through mdp not decode it.